Reimagining Our Future: Trans and Gender Diverse Peoples Convening in South Asia – Live Coverage

APTN is back with its series of subregional convening. On 16-20th January 2023. More than 40 trans and gender-diverse individuals are coming to represent our partner organisations in Kathmandu, Nepal. This event is the second of the sub-regional convenings, to be followed by one more in each of the sub-regions in Asia and the Pacific that APTN currently works with.

Announcement of the convening:

Follow the live coverage of each day of the Regional Convening.

Day 1 – 16 January 2023

Day 1 started with opening and welcoming remarks by Blue Diamond Society, National Human Right Commission Nepal and APTN. Followed by an agenda introduction and the “What Colour Are You?” exercise to get to know each other better. Participants worked on the “Head, Heart, Hand” activity, where they wrote down and posted on the flip charts what they wanted to learn and feel from these five days, and what they wanted to do once they returned to their respective communities after the convening. After that, Joe Wong of APTN gave a background journey of how the APTN was founded. 

After lunch time is the plenary on “Migration, Asylum and Refugee” where they discussed about the critical factors of challenges the trans refugee facing, what system and community support there are for those who wants to migrate. Guest speakers were invited and shared their own experiences, process and feeling while answering the questions from the participants. Everyone discussed about how the UNHCR processes can be taking times, mental trauma of trans refugee people, high cost for getting the visa, lack of financial and physical supports from the international community and how low digital literacy can affect on those who tried to apply asylum. 

The last session of the day was a break out session into two topics.

1. Legal Gender Recognition: where participants discussed about the barriers to LGR, the power to change, strategies have been used to progress LGR in their own countries, highlight and recent key developments on both positive and negative, how to document the process of LGR better, identifying the allies and influence, and how the information on LGR can be widely disseminated. 

2. Conversion Therapy Practices & Hate Crimes in South Asia: where the facilitator of APTN introduced the importance of talking about conversion therapy practices and hate crimes and the existing mechanisms that APTN has developed to collect data on hate crimes. And then they co-created the definition of Hate Crimes, and definition of Conversion Therapy. Group discussions were also done about what is the hate crimes mean to each of them, the process when a hate crime occurs in their countries, what sort of documentation is there, what kind of support is available, what strategies have they used to tackle the CT and Hate Crime practices, highlight and recent key developments on both positive and negative.

Day 2 – 17 January 2023

Day 2 started with a Panel discussion where the speakers talked about “Fundamentalism, Authoritarianism and Anti Gender mobilization”. 

Questions are: 

– Tell us about the rise of attacks against trans and gender diverse people in your context?

– Would you classify these attacks as a unified ‘anti gender movement’? Why/why not?

– Who are major non-state actors participating in these attacks? What are their links to the state actors and institutions (viz: police, courts, parliament, politicians from the ruling party and/or ministers)

– Would you characterise ‘anti-gender’ movement in your country as something that is comparable to what is happening in other countries in the region or is each context different with little or no connection between these anti gender proponents? 

After the break, there was a break out sessions with following topics.

1. Engagement with International and National Policy: where they discussed about engaging with international human rights mechanisms, have they used theses mechanisms to bring about national/local policy change, the opportunities for trans people to engage with UN mechanisms and the barriers, the allies to work with for advocacy, highlight and recent key developments (both positive and negative) that have taken place across this region. 

2. Community responses in Emergencies, disasters and Future Crises including political crisis: where they talked about the emergencies, disaster, and crisis that had faced,  highlight and recent key developments (both positive and negative), successes and challenges in accessing the support, allies and supports that need. 

After lunch are the group work sessions on Building an understanding of movement building and accountability. Participants break out into small groups to discuss the goals and movements and report back following with questions and comments from other participants.

Day 3 – 18 January 2023

Day 3: Trauma healing day

Day 3 of the South Asia Convening is designed to be a short break in the middle of the 5-day intense session in the convening. On this day, we had a Trauma Focused Workshop with Narrative Practices India, which was undocumented as it has a lot of confidential information. At night, we had a solidarity dinner at Hard Rock Cafe Kathmandu, attended by all of our participants, APTN team, and two honoured guests Jyotsna Maskay from Urgent Action Fund, and Torun Dramdal, the ambassador of Norway in Nepal.

We are very happy to host this meaningful solidarity dinner where participants can take a break from the intense work at the convening, and create networks and connections with fellow participants and guests.

Day 4 – 19 January 2023

Day 4 started with the mapping state of trans healthcare and rights where the facilitator introduced the history of mapping the state of trans healthcare and rights in Asia Pacific, baseline understanding of health models and interventions and gaps in asia and pacific by mapping the regional landscape of the state of health, access, models and monitoring. And participants are divided into different groups by country and discussed to identify the focal points of the group and fill out the questionnaire online. 

After lunch APTN introduced the Trans COMP CBM Tools by Cole Young, our Senior Program Officer. The tool measures the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality (AAAQ) of healthcare services for trans and gender diverse people.

This is an essential tool that communities will be able to use to advocate for better healthcare systems and services and to hold government and healthcare providers accountable. The Key Findings are a number of key issues that pose as both challenges and opportunities for services providers and stakeholders at the regional and country content were identified in all country scorecards.

1. Stigma and Discrimination

– More than 60% of data gatherers said that they feel judged because of their gender identity 

– Only 27% of Data Gatherers strongly aged that government staffs at the facility addressed them appropriately

– Only 35.69% said that the healthcare provider or doctors denied calling them by their preferred name and pronoun/salutation.

2. Lack of Knowledge on Gender Affirming Care

3. Safely and Wellbeing

4. Affordability

After that the panel discussion with the data collectors and focal points people who are participated in last pilot project where they shared the challenges and experiences they faced to roll out the tools, followed by country brainstorming to discuss if/how the Trans COMP CBM tool may be useful in their contexts and advocacies. How they would be able to use the process results of trans-specific monitoring activity in your advocacy, how to roll out in their own context, the process, the challenges and what supports they need.

Then the “Transformative Healthcare: Asia Pacific Trans Health & Rights Module” was launched with a few exercises, comments and feedback. 

Day 5 – 20 January 2023

Day 5 started with the panel discussion about “Speaking from the Margins”. The objectives are to learn more from all sub populations of transgender community and ensure that everyone is included in the movements, to identify the specific challenges of the marginal groups and how to address them programmatically. Facilitator also introduced the T-HAT Thailand program, Transgender homeless program by SEED malaysia and Deaf Unit SWING Thailand. 

Then the participants were divided into 3 groups.

1. Advocating for Gender Affirming Care and Trans Competent Healthcare: A Community Perspective

2. Trans masc sexual health needs and gaps

3. Reach the Unreached: where they discussed the communication and outreach activity, how to reach to community, which type of community/activity can be implemented. 

After lunch, the participants fill in the templates for “Building the Movements”, followed by the “Anger, Hope, Action” exercise where they answered three main questions:

1. What present situation and issues affecting your community makes you angry?

2. Reimagine what the future looks like for the community?

3. What collective action can we take to make this future a reality? 

Participants shared what they learnt when they shared with each other in the group for these exercises and that they are hoping for a better society without discrimination, equal opportunity and support to each other.