Last Saturday, 13 March 2010 we had forum on the right to self-determination. The forum was co-sponsored by Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines and the Metropolitan Community Church Quezon City (MCCQC).
The forum was very well-attended (see pic above). After the talk, we opened the floor to questions. One particular question that struck me was from a human rights defender who asked if there really could be a separate category that could be called "transgender human rights" to which I replied with a loud, resounding "YES!" The language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was so general that TLBG activists needed to clarify what this set of human rights standards had to say regarding issues on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). This is the primary reason why the Yogyakarta Principles came into being. This is also the reason why the concept of SOGI rights is being articulated by TLBG activists now to affirm the idea that different people experience discrimination, marginalization and persecution on different grounds. Some are oppressed because of their sexual orientation while some are treated badly and with disrespect because of their gender identity or expression. Of course there will be overlaps.
But the Yogyakarta Principles themselves are a set of general rights that do not explicitly outline what exact entitlements people deserve as transgender human beings. For example, there is no provision in the Principles that states outright that people have the freedom to determine their own gender. The idea is only referred to as a premise to the Right to Recognition before the Law. This is why transadvocates from around the world plan to come together to articulate clearly a set of rights in response to the human rights violations committed against transpeople. Of course some of these rights will be similar with existing human rights standards but they will be nuanced by the experience of transpeople. For example, the Right to Found a Family should be clarified by the idea that in many parts of the world transpeople are required to be sterilized which tramples their right to be parents and rear children.
After the Open Forum, we took several pictures.
And of course the night would not have been complete without the required picture of the ladies present at the forum (see pic above).