Recap: APTN at ILGA World Conference 2022

Published May 20, 2022
Location Asia Pacific

The ILGA World Conference is a place to assess where our communities stand, share experiences and best practices, build alliances and partnerships, discuss the future of our movement, and collectively chart ways to advance equality worldwide. The 31st edition of the ILGA World Conference took place from 2 to 6 May 2022 in LA Long Beach, hosted by the It Gets Better Project under the theme LGBTIQ youth: future present change.

Conference Theme: LGBTIQ youth – future present change

Change: our world has never needed it more than now. Covid-19 is only one of the emergencies that our planet is facing: climate change, sexism, racism, social injustice, and economic disparities are only a few of the deadly presences we are battling against. Crises build upon the damages made by other crises. Those who are already marginalised end up struggling to survive even more. 

LGBTIQ communities have always stepped up in times of hardship, and we are again called to bring radical, positive change. Youth has been a crucial presence in social justice movements: the way they mobilise others, speak truth to power and weave intergenerational alliances is a powerful force for our community and society as a whole. LGBTIQ youth are our future. 

APTN attended and led some of the workshop sessions at the ILGA World 2022 Conference. Our Executive Director, Joe Wong; Senior Human Rights and Advocacy Officer, Nhuun Yodmuang; and Senior Program Officer, Cole Young attended the conference as APTN representatives.

Cole Young and Nhuun Yodmuang with fellow trans activists and advocates

Beyond the Gender Backlash: An Interactive Debate

Nhuun Yodmuang, our Senior Human Rights and Advocacy Officer moderated a Thematic Session titled “Beyond the Gender Backlash: An Interactive Debate,” together with Chamindra Weerawardhana.

It was an important space allowing trans activists across the world to discuss current contentious situations for trans movements worldwide, namely Anti-gendered backlash. There, the participants shared their experiences of encountering the anti-gender activities that were trying to present the negative narratives of trans people, as well as the strategies to cope with the situation. The discussion was concluded with the importance of building allyship with other movements such as intersectional feminist movements.

Nhuun Yodmuang moderating the thematic session “Beyond the Gender Backlash”

Nothing to cure: Conversion Therapy Practices and Experiences of Trans and Gender Diverse People in Asia
This session was moderated by our Senior Human Rights and Advocacy Officer Nhuun Yodmuang while Joe Wong, our Executive Director and Mitch Yusof, Executive Director of SEED Malaysia attended as the speakers of the session.

Highlight from Joe Wong on this session.

In this session, we presented our report and findings on conversion therapy in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and India. Joe Wong also spoke about the research process and highlighted and highlighted the importance of this work, despite the difficulties of listening to trans individual’s experiences of conversion therapy. Mitch Yusof also shared moving experiences of Malaysian Conversion Therapy Survivors.

Joe Wong presented APTN’s ‘Conversion Therapy’ research report

Decolonising the UN: How UN Human Rights Bodies Can Do Better to Address Trans Rights in Asia
The speakers in this session are Rashima Kwatra (RFSL), Mitch Yusof (SEED Malaysia), and Chamindra Weerawardhana (ILGA World). Nhuun Yodmuang, APTN’s Senior Human Rights and Advocacy Officer was the moderator of this session.

Highlight from Nhuun Yodmuang on this session.

In this session, we had a fruitful presentation and discussion regarding the UN systems and how we can move forward as a collective to push the prospect of change. “We need a clear goal in mind to change this structure to something more caring and human […] There is a need for an intersectional feminist agenda at the united nations that sit on the footing of reform. When people from the Global South and marginalized communities make complaints, they need to be seriously and genuinely into account.”, as highlighted by Chamindra. Rashima also shared that there is a need for human rights and sustainable development languages at the UN to be inclusive of the lived reality of trans people in the global south, as a strategy of decolonising the UN. 

Nhuun Yodmuang moderating the session “Decolonizing the UN”.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Trans Communities: Survival, Resilience, and Sustainability
In this collaborative session with Transgender Europe (TGEU), APTN and TGEU first presented findings on the experiences of trans communities and then facilitated a reflective space with participants. Cole Young, our Senior Program Officer presented findings from APTN’s COVID-19 Community Based Monitoring of the pandemic in Asia-Pacific, while Zhan Chiam and Masen Davis (TGEU) shared their learnings from Europe and Central Asia. 

Highlight from Cole Young on this session.

Cole Young highlighted the resiliency of the trans organisations during the pandemic for trans communities in the Asia Pacific. While there were a lot of restrictions like lockdowns and travel barriers, they worked very hard to provide support for the community.

 Mitch Yusof, SEED Malaysia and co-chair of APTN’s Regional Steering Committee invited participants to join in a healing space; to reflect and share with each other what they have gone through during the pandemic. It was an emotional, but moving session. 

Overall, attending this conference is a very inspiring experience. Our team also hosted social events for fellow activists who are working or based in Asia and the Pacific region. It was such a great time to meet and reconnect with fellow trans and gender diverse activists after such a long time apart! We hope that this conference can strengthen our bond to develop solidarity for the movement in our region.