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Newsletters > To Be Who I Am > 2011

To Be Who I Am

ISSN 1179-0210All 2011

Welcome

Kia ora, talofa lava, malo e lelei, fakaalofa lahi atu, nisa bula vinaka, kia orana and welcome to the November 2011 edition of the To Be Who I Am e-newsletter. This issue is full of new resources for schools, health professionals, employers, youth workers, trans people and their families including:

  • a trans human rights poster to be launched on Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • FAQs for schools as part of the Commission’s new online fact sheets: Trans people: facts and information Continue reading…

  • the latest international standards of care for the health of trans people (released on 25 September)
  • the first New Zealand guidance for health professionals (released on 1 August)
  • recent changes in Australia that improve trans and intersex people’s ability to change sex details on passports and birth certificates
  • details of some Transgender Day of Remembrance events in New Zealand
  • how to find out what is happening internationally on gender identity and sexual orientation human rights issues, including how to be involved.
  • New trans resources for NZ schools

    • How can schools support trans students and their families?
    • What name and pronoun should be put on a trans student’s school documentation?
    • What uniform or dress code applies to trans students? Continue reading…
  • Who needs to know that a trans student is enrolled at the school?
  • What changing area should trans students use?
  • If trans students want to play sport which team should they play for?
  • These are just some of the questions answered in Supporting trans students, one of the FAQs in the Commission’s new set of fact sheets Trans people: facts & information. These bright-coloured resources include images of people from around the world who attended the inaugural Pacific and Asia regional trans and intersex hui in March 2011.

    The fact sheets talk about common human rights issues faced by whakawāhine, tangata ira tane, fa’afafine, fakaleiti, akava’ine, trans, gender queer and other gender diverse and gender questioning people. They include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), links to community groups, resource lists and workshop outlines.

    The full set or individual fact sheets can be downloaded here and include:

    A. FAQ: Supporting trans students

    B. FAQ: Transitioning at school

    C. LINKS: Some trans groups and networks

    D. LINKS: Trans youth

    E. LINKS: Some trans-inclusive groups and networks

    F. RESOURCES: Trans people and employment

    G. RESOURCES: Health

    H. RESOURCES: Terminology

    I. RESOURCES: Trans children, youth and their families

    J. WORKSHOP: Trans 101

    K. WORKSHOP: Young and Trans

    Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Transgender Day of Remembrance poster

    The 20th November 2011 is the 13th International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Two New Zealand commemorations are being held a week later on 29 November. They are a chance to remember Diksy Jones who was killed in Upper Hutt in 2009, aged 64. Diksy was a quiet, gentle, cabinet-maker who loved old cars, cricket and cats. TDOR also demonstrates the power and resilience of trans communities speaking out against violence, proudly being who they are. Continue reading…

    In Auckland: GenderBridge has a community event at St Matthew-in-the-City at 7pm on Tuesday 29 November. The church is on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson Streets. BYO a plate of food to share.

    In Hamilton: Agender Waikato, in conjunction with Hamilton Pride, are holding a Transgender Day of Rememberance at the Riff Raff statue Hamilton at 7pm, 20th November. Local politicians are invited to attend and those who attend usually give a short speech.

    In Christchurch: the recently reopened Te Whare Puakitanga / Transition House will be holding a community meeting from 7-9pm on 29 November. Nau mai, haere mai koutou – everyone is welcome. Contact Cherise Witehira on (03) 372-9298 or agenderchch@clear.net.nz for the address.

    The Human Rights Commission would really like to hear about any other Transgender Day of Remembrance events around New Zealand this year. Please send any details to juliew@hrc.co.nz.

    The first Transgender Day of Remembrance candlelight vigil was held in San Francisco in 1999 to remember Rita Hester who was murdered on November 28th, 1998 simply because she was trans. It sparked the “Remembering Our Dead” web project to publicly mourn and honour the lives of those who might otherwise be forgotten. TDOR raises public awareness of violence and hate crimes against trans people, and provides an opportunity for non-trans people to stand alongside their trans friends, partners, children and parents. In New Zealand the Police Diversity Liaison Officers regular participate in these community events.

    The Trans respect versus Transphobia (TvT) project monitors trans murders around the world. In the first nine months of 2011 alone, 116 murders of trans people from 23 countries had been registered with the project. Since January 2008, TvT has documented 681 reports of murdered trans people from 50 countries. Diksy Jones is remembered on that website and in this November 2009 article about TDOR.

    In December 2010 two men were convicted of manslaughter for killing Diksy Jones, and jailed for 9.5 and 10 years respectively. Justice Robert Dobson in the High Court in Wellington said he gave the younger man the longer sentence because his part in the "brutal and tragic" attack constituted a hate crime. This was based on comments the man had made to police that he followed Diksy home "to beat up a transvestite", that he "believed in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve", and thought Diksy did not deserve to live.

    In July this year, three Court of Appeal judges ruled that the longer jail term be reduced to nine years, and the minimum non-parole period be cut from five to four years. The appeal court judges considered Justice Dobson "overstated the seriousness of the hate crime aspect of the homicide".

    Trans Human Rights Poster

    On 20 November, Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), the Human Rights Commission will release a poster affirming the human rights of trans people. Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the poster says “trans people are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Continue reading…

    The poster is designed by Sam Orchard, a young trans man currently completing his Masters in creative writing at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

    “The Commission made it clear that it wanted a person on the poster. I was equally clear that I didn’t want just one image, as there’s not just one way to be trans or genderqueer”.

    Sam enjoyed the design process, particularly the challenge of trying to come up with an image that was not stereotypical “because we look like everyone”.

    The poster includes couples, families, people off to work and people just being themselves. They are set against a cityscape made up of a wide range of terms that trans people use to describe their gender identity.

    “Just as we don’t all look the same nor do we use the same words to describe ourselves,” Sam said.

    You can pre-order these A2 colour posters from the Commission for free, with no delivery cost, by emailing Ata on ataraitiw@hrc.co.nz.

    Visit Roostertails Comic if you want to see more of Sam’s inspirational work including Queer 101 “a super, simple comic guide” to gender, sex and sexuality

    Sam Orchard

    Image of a health professional

    Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) has published the first resource for New Zealand health professionals about working with trans people. It  is available as an online guide on the Ministry of Health’s website. Continue reading…

    In the February 2011 To Be Who I Am email newsletter, the CMDHB project team called for submissions on the first draft of this good practice guide. The final document represents a considerable amount of work by the small CMDHB project team, its Reference Group and trans people and health professionals who made submissions.

    The CMDHB project team has acknowledged and thanked everyone for the feedback received. They said “the final draft has included many, but not all, suggested changes made in submissions. This document is a first of its kind in New Zealand. It is primarily guidance for health professionals, and it is acknowledged that it provides a snapshot in a time of change”.

    The guidance is based on the 2001 World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) standards of care. It specifically notes that “the WPATH standards are about to be revised. This guide attempts to apply those standards to local circumstances.”

    On 25 September the 7th version of the WPATH standards of care were launched. They include some significant changes, soothe CMDHB guidance should be read alongside this WPATH document.

    The Ministry of Health has advised the Royal College of GPs about the CMDHB guide and will look at seeking funding for reviewing the document in 2 years time. The Human Rights Commission has given the Ministry a small list of suggested corrections picked up through final proof-reading. The Commission understands that any further substantive changes, including those that would update the document in line with the revised WPATH standards, would need to be part of the proposed 2013 review.

    In late August, the Commission held a national video-conference so that trans members of the project’s Reference Group could report back to the wider community. Trans people attending were interested in continuing to work with health professionals and their professional bodies to improve access to quality healthcare for trans people. In September, the Commission and three local trans people presented a workshop at the Public Health Association conference at Lincoln University.

    Large changes to WPATH Standards of Care

    Wellbeing image

    It has been ten years since the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) revised its standards of care (SOC). The latest version, released on 25 September 2011, explicitly states that “being transsexual, transgender or gender nonconforming is a matter of diversity, not pathology”.”This is a momentous occasion,” said WPATH Revision Committee Chair and University of Minnesota Professor, Eli Coleman, as he launched the new SOC. Continue reading…

    "We've made a clear statement that gender nonconformity is not pathological . . . This is no longer about hormones and surgery — it's about health in a holistic sense," Coleman said.

    Christine Burns, one of the trans community representatives on WPATH’s International Advisory Committee summed up the significant progress made over the last decade. “The previous versions of the SOC were always perceived to be about the things that a trans person must do to satisfy clinicians, this version is much more clearly about every aspect of what clinicians ought to do in order to properly serve their clients. That is a truly radical reversal . . . one that serves both parties very well.”

    WPATH recognises that many trans people live comfortable lives without having to seek therapy or medical interventions. Its clinical guidelines are about meeting the health care needs of those trans people who do seek medical support because their gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

    The 2011 SOC acknowledge that these “are first and foremost the client’s decisions – as are all decisions regarding healthcare. However mental health professionals have a responsibility to encourage, guide and assist clients with making fully informed decisions and becoming adequately prepared”.

    In this interview Walter Bockting, the outgoing WPATH president, said the latest standards of care represent a significant departure from the past. "Some of the changes we've made really incorporate the latest science," Bockting said. "Research in this area is really increasing so . . . our standards of care are more evidence based."

    "Oftentimes the standards of care were perceived as a barrier even though they were meant as access to care for hormone therapy and surgery," he said before going on to identify some key revisions in the new SOC. One major change is, that the standards "allow for a broader spectrum of identities – they are no longer so binary." For the first time the standards consider the health needs of people who are gender queer.

    "The new standards showcase the important role [transsexual,transgender, and gender nonconforming people] have played in changing the landscape of transgender health in the U.S.," Bockting added.

    Trans people are increasingly involved in WPATH itself and in local and national projects such as that coordinated by CMDHB in New Zealand. Aucklander Jaimie Veale is chair of GenderBridge and has attended the last two WPATH symposia. She was in Atlanta for the launch of the SOC, presenting a paper about her PhD research.

    “I'm pleased to see that WPATH have moved away from using pathologising language and having rigid steps that trans people need to take in order to convince health professionals to grant them access to treatment. These revised standards enable trans people to access medical procedures and focus on informed consent. I look forward to seeing these standards implemented in New Zealand”.

     Dr Janet Say from the Auckland Sexual Health Service was one of the New Zealand health professionals at the WPATH conference.

    "Attending the WPATH meeting with its launch of the new SOC document was a major education for me as a physician, realising the comparatively small but sometimes essential role we provide to transgender people. I realise that advocacy locally and internationally from health professionals, with the community defining their needs, is imperative. Destigmatisation and depathologisation is what we all have to work towards.”

    In October 2011 the New Zealand Sexual Health Society held a Transgender update session lead by Dr John Newman and his team who provide health services for trans youth. Last week Dr Say attended the International Union against Sexually Transmitted Infections (IUSTI) World Congress in New Delhi. Her talk "Improving the quality of life for transgender people: the role of Sexual Health clinics” included an update about WPATH and the new SOC.

    If health professionals, trans people and community groups around the country are interested in holding a discussion about the new WPATH standards, the Human Rights Commission is happy to host this using its video-conference facilities in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. This session would need to be held during office hours. Those interested should contact Jack Byrne on jackb@hrc.co.nz

    STP2012 logo

    On 28 September the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to remove gender identity disorders from its International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The resolution suggests that, instead, the WHO should develop a “non-pathologising reclassification” as part of its current review that aims to produce a revised ICD in 2015. Continue reading…

    This was another step in what Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE) has described as “a historical moment for trans* movements worldwide”. GATE is coordinating an international experts’ meeting to develop a proposal to be submitted to the WHO before the end of 2011. This meeting will be held in The Hague and has both government and community support, from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands and the Transgender Netwerk Nederland respectively.

    The proposal to the WHO will focus on:

    • removing all references that define trans people or gender diversity as ‘disorders’ while
    • giving trans people access to medical procedures and
    • ensuring trans people are able to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity.

    If people have questions, comments or suggestions, and/or want to submit information to be included in the proposal to the WHO, they can contact GATE at icd@transactivists.org.

    In New Zealand, GenderBridge has started an online Facebook campaign Being Trans is Not an Illness. It was launched on 22 October, International Day of Action for Trans* Depathologization alongside demonstrations and actions in 70 cities of 32 countries around the world.

    In this recent article Genderbridge Chair Jaimie Veale explained why she thinks it is important for people in New Zealand to support this international campaign:

    "In Aotearoa and across the Pacific there is a proud history of gender diversity. Whakawāhine, tangata ira tane, fa'afafine, leiti and trans people should be treated with dignity and respect - not labelled as having a ‘gender identity disorder'. Trans people who physically transition require certain health services. It is time to stop labelling gender diversity as an illness, and start treating trans people as equal human beings, with some specific health needs."

    GenderBridge are keen to work with other trans organisations, community groups and health professionals to provide input into the GATE proposal. More information can be found on the Genderbridge website or people can contact GenderBridge on info@genderbridge.org.

    Sex Files report

    A 6 October 2011 decision by the High Court of Australia allows trans people in Western Australia to alter their identity documents without first having major surgery. The decision is in line with the findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2009 Sex Files Report which recommended that surgery should not be required before a trans person could legally change their sex. Continue reading…

    The High Court upheld the appeal of two trans men who challenged the interpretation of the West Australian Gender Reassignment Act (WAGRA) 2001. It overturned a Court of Appeal decision that chest reconstruction surgery and hormone treatment were not enough for a trans man to be recognised as male under Western Australian law. The WAGRA requires a trans man to have the “physical characteristics by virtue of which a person is identified" as male.

    Aram Hosie, spokesperson for the WA Gender Project said “Previously transsexual people in Western Australia, as in other parts of the country, have been unable to legally amend their sex without invasive, medically unnecessary surgeries that may be unwanted, impractical or unattainable. This has resulted in difficulties in proving one’s identity on essential documentation, a loss of privacy, and the risk of exposure to discrimination, harassment and sometimes even violence.”

    Sally Goldner, spokesperson for TransGender Victoria said “The High Court ruled that the law should be applied in a beneficial way that makes life easier, not harder for people, and therefore that there was no justification for requiring people to have costly and unnecessary surgeries in order to have their sex recognised.”

    “The High Court's decision will now make it much easier for transsexual people in Western Australia to obtain documentation that accurately reflects their identity and physical appearance. In turn, this will further help those same people to more easily obtain discrimination protection under West Australian law.”

    Peter Hyndal, spokesperson for A Gender Agenda said he hoped that the decision would “set a precedent about the way that laws governing the recognition of sex in Australian should operate, and so help make life easier for transsexual men and women in Western Australia and the rest of the country.”

    “To this end, we call on other State and Territory Governments around Australia to reflect the High Court’s decision in their interpretation and administration of the law and to act on the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission Sex Files report” Hyndal added.

    Australian passport

    Trans and intersex people in Australia can now change the sex details on their passport to female (F), male (M) or indeterminate / unspecified / intersex (X). Sex reassignment surgery is not required. A letter from a doctor confirming the trans or intersex person’s gender identity can be supplied instead. Continue reading…

    Under these new federal guidelines trans and intersex people can change sex details on their passport without amending their birth or citizenship certificate.

    Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced these new guidelines on 14 September.

    “This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance,” said Mr Rudd.

    The initiative is in line with the Australian Government’s commitment to remove discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.

    “Most people take for granted the ability to travel freely and without fear of discrimination,” Mr McClelland said. “This measure will extend the same freedoms to sex and gender diverse Australians.

    “Importantly, this policy addresses a number of the recommendations contained in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Sex Files report.”

    Trans and intersex organisations worked closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to review the existing policy.

    Until now passports could only be issued in the same sex as that shown on a person’s birth certificate. This was a major barrier for many trans and intersex people who, for financial, medical and other reasons, were unable to meet the legal threshold for changing sex details on their original birth certificate.

    Peter Hyndal, spokesperson for A Gender Australia (AGA), described the very real safety issues for trans and intersex people travelling overseas under the previous policy.

    “We are aware of specific instances where individuals have been detained in international airports, or denied visas because the sex on their passport did not match their presentation and identity.

    “This is, in my view, the single most important piece of trans/intersex law reform that I have ever seen in Australia in my lifetime.”

    Read or listen to this ABC Law Report about legal recognition issues for trans and intersex people in Australia.

    Massive Steps at the United Nations

    ARC International's logo

    This year there have been “massive steps” taken internationally to recognise sexual orientation and gender identity human rights, according to ARC International. Their co-founder, New Zealander John Fisher, attended the Wellington Outgames human rights conference in March. Read ARC’s e-bulletin to find out what is happening internationally on these human rights issues and how you can be involved. Continue reading…

    People who attended the Outgames human rights conference may remember John Fisher’s daily count of countries that had signed the joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council. The statement’s title and purpose was “ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity”.

    The final vote was just a few days later, on 22 March. A total of 85 countries signed the joint statement. Across the Pacific these included New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Timor-Leste.

    Less than three months later, on 17 June, those countries who are members of the Human Rights Council passed the first UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity. Other countries who are not members of the Human Rights Council could co-sponsor the resolution. In the Pacific these included New Zealand, Australia and Timor-Leste.

    This is how Justus Eisfeld, Co-Director of Global Action for Trans* Equality, described the importance of the UN resolution.

    “That we are celebrating the passage of a UN resolution about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation is remarkable, however the fact that gender identity is explicitly named truly makes this pivotal moment one to rejoice in. The Human Rights Council has taken a step forward in history by acknowledging that both sexual and gender non-conformity make lesbian, gay, trans* and bi people among those most vulnerable and indicated decisively that states have an obligation to protect us from violence.”

    Read more about the Human Rights Commission’s work on sexual orientation and gender identity on our website. This year it included support for the Outgames human rights conference and the regional trans and intersex hui held the day before. The Commission’s presentations and photographs and interviews with many of the conference participants are available on the Outgames legacy website.

    CMDHB logo

    The project team from Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) have just released their draft good practice guide for health professionals working with trans people. Gender Reassignment Health Services for Trans People within New Zealand is now open for public consultation. Continue reading…

    The project team are inviting people to give feedback on this draft guide by Monday 21 February. You can email any comments to healthinfo@middlemore.co.nz or fax them to (09) 261 2273.

    Read the revised Draft Gender Reassignment Health Services for Trans People within NZ Guide including appendices [PDF] or a Word version without the appendices.

    The documents will shortly be on the health page of the Action on the Transgender Inquiry website and on Counties Manukau DHB’s website.

    Trans people are invited to join a community video-conference to discuss CMDHB’s draft guide. This will be held in the Human Rights Commission’s Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices from 3 – 5pm on Monday 14 February. Continue reading…

    Trans people from other parts of the country will be able to phone into the videoconference free of charge. This is a new system so people need to contact Jack Byrne to get instructions about how to join the call. Please RSVP to jackb@hrc.co.nz by  Friday 11 February if you are coming or want to phone in to the discussion.

    If possible please try to read the draft guide before you come, particularly the first 32 pages. This meeting is a chance to:

    • talk with the five trans reps on the project’s Reference Group
    • suggest any changes that would make the guide as useful as possible for health professionals and trans people
    • share ideas about ways to encourage health professionals who work with trans people to make submissions on the draft.

    Counsellor Mani Mitchell and Psychologist Daniel Eakins have confirmed the details of a Wellington meeting to discuss CMDHB’s draft guide. This meeting is for health professionals working with trans people. The details are: Continue reading…

    Date Monday 14 February
    Time 6pm
    Venue Pacific Ghya Centre, Level 12 Willbank House, 57 Willis Street
    RSVP to mani.mitchell@xtra.co.nz including for details about after-hours access to this floor

    CMDHB’s draft good practice guide will include a list of health professionals who regularly work with trans people and have agreed for their contact details to be made available to other professional colleagues. This section of the guide is still in development.

    Anyone interested in discussing being included can contact CMDHB on healthinfo@middlemore.co.nz.

    aft good practice guide will include a list of health professionals who regularly work with trans people and have agreed for their contact details to be made available to other professional colleagues. This section of the guide is still in development.

    Anyone interested in discussing being included can contact CMDHB on healthinfo@middlemore.co.nz.

    Hui Logo

    Come and meet your trans and intersex whānau / family from the Pacific, Australia, Asia and beyond. Local trans and intersex activists are hosting a regional gathering 15 March, the day before the Outgames human rights conference. Continue reading…

    Date Tues 15 March 2011
    Time 9.30am – 5.30pm
    Place St Andrews on the Terrace Hall, 30 The Terrace, Wellington
    $$ / cost? FREE
    Register Fill out the registration form and email it to: aotearoa_jack@hotmail.com by Monday 28 February
    Volunteer to help NOW!

    This regional hui/gathering is a chance for trans and intersex activists and those who support them to:

    • share the work they are doing to improve human rights in their own countries
    • learn the terms used to describe gender diversity across this region, in many languages
    • develop a stronger regional network that reflects that diversity
    • identify the challenges trans and intersex communities face, and the support they can give each other
    • build trust, get to know each other and have fun!

    There is no registration cost for the hui. However people need to fund their travel to Wellington and accommodation. Download the  Regional Hui poster [PDF 476KB] and Regional Hui information sheet and registration [Word 263 KB]. Please pass them on other trans and intersex people, particularly people who will be in Wellington for the 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames.

    After the hui, Wellington organisation Tapatoru are hosting a BBQ from 8-10pm at Thorndon Pool.

    Trans and intersex people at the regional hui will have an opportunity to report-back to the  Outgames human rights conference which runs from Wednesday 16 – Friday 18 March. Many of the trans and intersex participants are giving presentations, running workshops or are members of panels during the 3 day conference.

    Medical Image

    Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) is just completing its draft resource for health professionals working with trans people. As soon as it is available, the draft resource will be circulated as a special edition of this email newsletter. Your comments will be needed to make this resource as useful as possible for health professionals and the trans people they support.

    A video-conference has been set up on Monday 14 February to get community feedback on the draft. Psychologist Daniel Eakins and counsellor Mani Mitchell are also organising a Wellington meeting in February for health professionals to discuss this resource. Continue reading…

    Meeting and Video-conference

    Health professionals wanting to attend the Wellington meeting can contact Mani Mitchell on mani.mitchell@xtra.co.nz.

    Trans people are invited to join a community video-conference to discuss the draft resource. This will be held in the Human Rights Commission’s Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices from 3 – 5pm on Monday 14 February. The Commission can also phone in people from Dunedin and up to three more places. Please RSVP to jackb@hrc.co.nz by Friday 11 February if you are coming or want to be phoned in.

    This is a chance to:

    • talk with the five trans reps on the project’s Reference Group
    • suggest any changes that would make the guide as useful as possible for health professionals and trans people
    • share ideas about ways to encourage health professionals who work with trans people to make submissions on the draft.

    There is more background information about the project on the Inquiry website including:

    • notes from the November Trans Health Hui held at Papatuanuku Kokiri marae in Mangere on Saturday 27 November and attended by over forty people. These have been sent to the CMDHB project team and health professionals on the project’s Reference Group
    • minutes from  the three Reference Group meetings in June, August and October 2010
    • community feedback presented by the five trans reps to the August and October meetings.

    Challenging forced sterilisation

    Activist Guide

    One case study in the Activists’ Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles focuses on the work of Transgender Network Netherlands. They are using the Yogyakarta Principles to challenge the legal requirement that trans people must have undergone sex reassignment surgery in order to change their sex / gender details.  The Netherlands is one of a number of countries where trans people are pushing for similar law changes. Continue reading…

     In Germany, in a decision released on 28 January 2011, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the requirement to undergo sterilisation or gender-confirming surgery before gaining legal gender recognition is not constitutional. Requiring such surgeries, in order to change one’s sex details, is incompatible with the right to sexual self-determination, physical integrity and privacy. This is likely to have implications across Europe. Many other countries have similar legal requirements and Transgender Europe reports that both the Council of Europe and the Committee of Ministers have indicated these should be reviewed. Read more.

     In New Zealand, a June 2008 Family Court decision found that full gender reassignment surgeries are not always required before someone is able to obtain a Family Court declaration changing their sex details. The Transgender Inquiry recommended that the ‘physical conformation’ test in the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995 should be amended, to clarify that such surgeries are not essential. The Inquiry proposed an alternative legal threshold whereby a trans woman would need to show she “has taken decisive steps to live fully and permanently” as a woman, and vice versa for a trans man. This recommendation is yet to be implemented.

    Sharing international successes

    ARC International logo

    Do you want to know what is happening internationally to improve human rights for trans people? How are people using the Yogyakarta Principles to make a real difference in their communities? Here are links to online resources explaining how the Yogyakarta Principles are being used successfully around the world. Continue reading…

    In December the Activists’ Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles [HTML or PDF ] was launched, alongside a website which tracks how the Yogyakarta Principles are being used internationally.

    The Activists’ Guide is a toolkit to increase people’s understanding of the Yogyakarta Principles and the international human rights law on which they are based. It includes successful case studies about the work of trans groups around the world, and profiles the Transgender Inquiry.

    In January ARC International launched its E-Bulletin [PDF 2.72MB]. It provides a quarterly update on international developments around gender identity and sexual orientation human rights. This and other cutting-edge human rights information, including videos, can be found on the ARC International website.

    ARC co-founder John Fisher will be one of the speakers at a Yogyakarta Principles Forum being organised by the Human Rights Commission on the opening day of the 2nd Asia Pacific Outgames human rights conference.

    UN logo

    The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken out against human rights violations based on gender identity or sexual orientation twice in recent months. This progress has come about in part because of the powerful statements made by trans, intersex, lesbian, gay and bisexual activists on panels held at the United Nations. Watch this moving speech by transpinay activist Sass Rogando Sasot from the Philippines on Human Rights Day 2009.

    Continue reading…

    In a panel on Human Rights Day (10 December) 2010  Ban Ki-moon said:

    "The responsibilities of the United Nations and the obligations of States are clear. No-one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No-one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No-one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression."
    Read full statement [PDF]

    Then on 26 January 2011, in a special sitting of the UN Human Rights Council, Ban Ki-moon gave a strong statement calling for an end to such human rights violations. This is the first time in the history of the United Nations that a Secretary-General has directly addressed an official UN body specifically on these issues.

    The Secretary General dedicated substantial attention to the issues in his address, concluding:

    “When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out. That is what I am doing here, that is my consistent position. Human rights are human rights everywhere, for everyone.”

    Cover of Human Rights in NZ 2010

    The Transgender Inquiry’s final report was released two years ago. What progress has been made since then and what further changes are necessary? These questions are asked in the sexual and gender minorities’ chapter in Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. It concludes that there needs to be a continued focus on legal recognition, the rights to education and health, and explicit protection for trans people under the Human Rights Act. Continue reading…

     On International Human Rights Day (10 December), the Human Rights Commission launched Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. This report card identifies where New Zealand does well, and where it could do better across the full spectrum of human rights. It lists these four recommendations from the Transgender Inquiry as top priorities for improving the human rights of trans people:

    • amending the Human Rights Act to explicitly state that discrimination on the grounds of gender identity is prohibited by the ground of sex
    • amending the physical conformation threshold in section 28 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995
    • sharing best practice so that trans students’ right to education is fully protected
    • building on the Counties Manukau District Health Board project to develop standards of care and treatment pathways for trans people wishing to transition physically.

     The Commission is very grateful for the large number of comments received on a draft version of this chapter. Many were incorporated into the final version.

    Other highlighted concerns include:

    • violence against trans people including bullying and harassment in schools
    • the need to raise these human rights issues in all New Zealand country reports to the United Nations.

     In addition, the chapter summarises suggestions raised in two roundtables looking at the human rights of intersex people. It concludes there is a need to:

    • build understanding about the specific human rights issues faced by intersex people
    • use a human rights-based framework to develop best practice for meeting the health needs of intersex people, with a particular focus on infants with intersex medical conditions.

     Read the full Rights of sexual and gender minorities chapter  [PDF) or a summary on pages 81–86  of this Summary Report.

    The Commission has selected 30 priority areas from over 100 identified by the research and public consultation process undertaken in preparing Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. Further action in these areas is essential over the next five years.

    The priority area for action for sexual and gender minorities is:

    • Legal Equality: Completing the legislative steps required for formal legal equality, including rights to found and form a family regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Kia ora, Welcome!

    Kia ora, talofa lava, malo e lelei, fakaalofa lahi atu, nisa bula vinaka, kia orana and welcome to the February 2011 edition of the To Be Who I Am e-newsletter.

    Counties Manukau DHB is about to release its draft guidance for health professionals working with trans people. Inside this issue you will find details about a trans community video-conference and a Wellington meeting organised by local health professionals to discuss this draft resource. Plus find out how to register for the Pacific and Asia regional trans and intersex hui being held in Wellington on 15 March, the day before the Outgames human rights conference. Continue reading…

    Other articles profile:

    • human rights issues for trans people identified in Human Rights in New Zealand 2010  and
    • new websites and toolkits to keep you informed about exciting international human rights developments for trans people.

     Enjoy!

    Outgames conference logo

    Register for the Outgames human rights conference before Monday 7 February, to save $25 on the Outgames participation fee. Other important dates are listed below including Friday 18 February, the deadline for applying for a SS4Q youth scholarship to the conference. Continue reading…

    Put these dates in your diary:

     Sunday 6 February 

    the last day to pay the $89 Outgames participation fee. It then increases to $114

    Friday 18 February

    applications close for three SS4Q conference scholarships for queer, trans or intersex youth aged 25 or under. These covering the Outgames conference registration costs. Contact jalison@ppta.org.nz for more details

    Monday 28 February

    registrations close for the Outgames human rights conference and for the Pacific and Asia trans and intersex hui

    Tuesday 15 March

    Pacific and Asia trans and intersex hui, Wellington

    Wednesday 16  - Friday 18 March

    2nd Asia Pacific Outgames human rights conference, Wellington

    You are currently reading articles from To Be Who I Am , This was a quarterly newsletter for trans people and others interested in progressing the Transgender Inquiry’s actions and recommendations,. It is not longer published but you can still add your name to be included on a contact list for those interested in trans issues. by the Human Rights Commission.

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