Monday, June 7, 2010

Congenid closes

The second day of the International Congress on Gender Identity and Human Rights or Congenid was even more tumultuous. The dissatisfaction of the international participants came to a head at dinner during the first day and a town hall was called. The biggest complaint that people had was that they felt left out and excluded in the organization and decision-making of and for the Barcelona conference.

The Congenid was organized by Spanish activists who wanted to create a document that could be used as reference by governments in protecting the human rights of their transgender citizens. Prior to Congenid, an International Executive Committee (IEC) was created composed of transactivists from different continents to help identify the people who would be invited to the conference. All the activists were then asked to choose among four work groups that separately would flesh out human rights protections for transpeople in the area of Violence and Criminalization (Group 1), Access to Health (Group 2), Equality and Discrimination (Group 3) and Legal Change of Sex (Group 4). A special group that everyone could be part of was tasked to work on creating a global trans network (Group 5).

At the town hall, people took issue with the four groups. Who decided that these would be the working groups? Who decided who should be leading the working groups? They also questioned the constitution of the IEC. Why were people not consulted on the creation of the IEC some asked. After sharing sentiments, it was decided that the program for the second day should be scrapped. Instead, since the aim of the conference was to create a document outlining trans rights, it was agreed that the second day should be devoted for the work groups to spend the day together polishing their documents. In the afternoon, a plenary would be called where the output of each group would be presented.

The plenary sadly was unable to achieve what it was meant for. More people raised objections to the handling of the conference as a whole. Sex workers from South America expressed their dismay that the Conference did not respect their issue and give it due space in the work groups. In fact, many of them took offense at the term sex work for they said it masked the real dangers that they faced daily. Many of them have experienced violence and persecution because of prostitution. They said, if what they were doing were really work, then how come they were not enjoying the same benefits as someone who worked in an office? They said that sex work was a misleading euphemism that did not do anybody any good and a concept that was being imposed on them. What they did was prostitution and it should be called as such.

Others felt that the Spanish organizers were trying to rush a document that should take more time and more consultation. In the end, the plenary was divided into two: those who wanted to produce a Barcelona declaration (mainly those from Spain and Latin America) and those who wanted to stall a declaration and instead treat the Congenid documents as working papers that could be discussed further in the future (the rest of the international participants from Asia, North America, Eastern Europe and Africa).

I am home now and reflecting on what happened in Spain. In hindsight, a world congress would have been successful if prior regional meetings were held first. For example, the Asia and Pacific activists could have met before Spain and discussed the Asia and Pacific transagenda. The same thing should have happened in South America, North America, Eastern Europe, and Africa with help from the organizers in Spain. That way, a relationship was established with the local organizers in Barcelona. A year-long preparation time should have been devoted to these regional meetings before a world congress was called. As well, the pre-conference that happened in Barcelona should have been spent towards the work of the four work groups instead of devoting those three important days to workshops that sometimes had nothing to do with the topics of the work groups.

In the end, a Barcelona declaration could have still been possible if it was kept local. Opening the idea to international participants was a mistake. But the Barcelona meeting was not completely useless. Giving transactivists from around the world a chance to meet is always fruitful in a way because it opens doors to create connections and friendships. Whenever I am with other transactivists from different countries, I feel extremely humbled and feel less alone in my activism. Their stories inspire me to do so much more back home in the Philippines. I am sure it is the same for them. Meeting your contemporaries is always a refreshing and renewing experience. It is really up to you how you will nurture the linkages made. I do look forward to working with all of these lovely activists from different continents. It is truly my honor to have met all of them.

5 comments:

Acera Del Frente said...

Naomi:
I found you blog!!! I totally agree with you. Even if I was one of the organizers, I always declared that I felt that participation from the gobal trans community was running short, and that even if I was the relator of the health group, I considered that having only 2 hurs per group to close the document was unfair. So I am gladthat we can still kep on working on those drafts.

Big kisses sexy girl!!!
Alira

PinayTG said...

Alluring Alira!

I am glad to see your blog as well. I will visit it often to get updates on the work that you are doing there.

By the way, thank you for all your hard work in Spain. I wish that all of us could have done more to ensure Congenid's success. We were all responsible for its outcome after all.

I feel that it was not completely a waste but we could have done better. Next time, I hope it will be better. :)

Take care always my beautiful friend. Keep in touch and stay as awesome as you are!

tgibson said...

It's great!!............................................................

Maria said...

Hi Alira and Naomi,
Yes you are both right, we could have done more if we used part of the pre-conference and yes tha Spanish organizers with you Alira as one of the excetions, were not that thrilled to include transactivists from other parts of the world. It felt so good to see how, Alira you stood up for the global trans movement and for intersectionalism and solidarity.

Still Barcelona was a mind blowing experiance, even for me who's been around for so long.

A Mega hug from the old Mega Bitch
Maria

PinayTG said...

HUGS back Maria!

Like you, I am so proud of the work we did for Group 4. I am glad we had that day working together and spending time with each other and Lukas.

I really hope that we will have more opportunities in the future to continue what we started in Barcelona.

Congratulations again on your new role in RSFL. I am so proud of you.I know that you will do a lot of good in your position. Take care always you beautiful, smart and kind Mega Bitch! LOL