Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights: Trans voices must be heard

Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights: Trans voices must be heard - Civic Space

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Today, 17 May, we celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). This year’s theme, ‘Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights’, seeks to highlight how many LGBTQI+ people across the world live LGBTQI+-phobias in very personal, profound ways. IDAHOBIT was established in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQI+ people. This day represents an important global annual event that aims to highlight to decision makers, the media, the public, corporations, opinion leaders, and public authorities the alarming situation people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics face. All individuals have a right to live free and with dignity.

It is essential that we keep fighting and advocate for the rights of all: claiming rights to live sexualities and to express gender(s) freely, but also demanding to be free from physical violence and from conversion so-called ‘therapies’ and forced sterilisation of trans and intersex people. As part of this advocacy, ARTICLE 19 took part in the Conference Against Transphobia, in Amsterdam, on May 13th and 14th, a series of events organised by the Transgender Network Netherlands with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and which hosted close to 100 participants from civil society, research, and policy.

Considering the violence that trans people continue to face, legal and social support for the community is more urgent than ever. The Conference against Transphobia focused on what it will take to make sustainable change and was held with the aim of connecting activists and members of the community, giving them an opportunity to share experiences and transform local, regional and international policies. Sessions included discussions on research, national, European and international policy, the sharing of stories by activists and experts, as well as networking, brainstorming and envisioning. 


Decolonisation of our gender identities and expressions:  Trans* voices must be heard, trans* rights must be protected.

Trans people face immense levels of physical, psychological and sexual violence, whether on the streets, at school or work, at home, or at the hands of government officials. Trans people face high levels of oppression and discrimination, including from systems of economy, politics, society – albeit often this is invisible to the rest of society. This violence is only worsened when intersectional factors are taken into account. In the United States alone, trans people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent attacks[mfn]https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/ncvs-trans-press-release/[/mfn]. The year 2021 saw at least 50 trans and gender non-conforming people killed, according to  a report by LGBTQ advocacy organisation the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), with rates higher for trans women and trans people of colour[mfn]https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2020[/mfn]. This number is of course likely to be higher as so many cases of violence remain undeclared. Globally, there remains a lack of data, but studies show there has been a steady increase in the number of reported murders of transgender or gender non-conforming persons each year, with at least 3664 murders documented since 2008; 97% identified as trangender women[mfn] https://gate.ngo/defending-lives-of-transgender-women/[/mfn]. The stories told in all corners of the world are shocking. As LGBTQI+ people, including trans people, become more vocal and visible, violence is on the rise. For this, more support and effort is needed.

Some of the main conclusions – albeit out of many! – included, first and foremost, the need to include trans people at the core of policy-making processes and research, with funding for capacity enhancement. Policy-makers must become more understanding of the actual lived realities of all trans people, how current policies impact them specifically, and develop policy in accordance. It is also crucial that we do not adopt all-encompassing research but disaggregate some of the research and findings. For this, representation is key, including trans people in high levels of decision-making. 

Legal progress is key, it is not enough: there needs to be huge change in social attitudes. Policy-makers, but also the media, civil society actors, and researchers have a key role to play in terms of promoting more positive narratives of trans stories. In recent years, there has been a rise in anti-gender movements in many countries, including those countries deemed ‘safe’. This must be tackled, offline and online, in all countries with the support of tech companies, member states, and institutions at all levels.


Find out more about the conference, follow this link: https://www.conference-transphobia.eu/

Find out more about IDAHOBIT