The two most recent readings in class have been about a more radical form of trans* activism, that includes not only the plight of transgender individuals but anyone who doesn’t directly benefit or fit into the current system as it exists.
For my presentation I chose GATE or Global Actions for Trans* Equality. My reason for choosing GATE is not necessarily because I think it represents the all encompassing abolition movement discussed in Spade and Juang’s articles, but because it is the first tans* activism site to come up. I find this interesting because while GATE does operate on a grassroots level, work for the decriminalization of sex work, as well as feel excluded and unrepresented by the most prominent LGBT organizations their approach appears different. For example one of their goals include lobbying, which is much more trying to appeal to the system as it exists. GATE’s focus is predominately for trans* individuals and does not discuss the “subjection” of all individuals who do not fit the privileged white male identity.
– Believes that the respect and celebration of gender diversity is an integral part of a society that is based on the fulfilment of human rights.
– Aims to protect the Human Rights of trans* people worldwide.
– Works for the empowerment and self-determination of all trans* people and aims to increase the visibility and respect of all trans* people.
– Opposes the continued exotisation of trans* people and the persistent pathologisation of gender variance as a mental disorder.
– Works to combat the violence, discrimination and unequal treatment experienced by trans* people.
– Regional and international lobby on trans* issues
– Help build trans* movements and structures in all parts of the world
– Make critical knowledge and resources available to trans* activists”
GATE seems to have a heavy emphasis on the removal of trans* from the list of mental disorders. This was very interesting to me, because while we have touched on it it has not been a major discussion in the class as far as the necessity to remove trans* identification from the list. GATE argues that:
Trans* pathologization affects different communities in different ways, but its effects are always devastating. The diagnostic classification of trans* people as mentally disordered is, even today, a legal requirement in many countries to grant legal recognition of a gender identity when it varies from the sex assigned at birth. In many countries, the same classification is required in order to control trans* people’s access to gender affirming procedures (such as surgery and hormones) and to ensure, where possible, their coverage. Moreover, those diagnoses that pathologize us have been, and are still used, to promote and justify human rights violations, including forced institutionalization and treatment without consent (such as conversion therapies). The current identification of trans* existence as pathological affects negatively the realization of our right to health in different ways: in order to avoid the harm caused by pathologization many trans * people prefer to avoid accessing all forms of health care; additionally, trans* people’s real health needs are diminished or ignored in the context of a biomedical system obsessed with diagnosing, treating and “curing” our gender identity and expression. This dynamic is particularly damaging, for example, at the intersection of trans* pathologization and the HIV response.”
GATE’s argument in this regard seems very relevant to many of the concerns discussed in our class thus far, especially the process that many trans* individuals must undergo in order to receive access to gender affirming procedures.In the beginning of Juang’s article he discusses the definition and desire to achieve justice within a liberal democracy, an idea we are somewhat sold as citizens. GATE has a similar desire for trans* individuals to be represented, and seems to operate as an organization to aid small grassroots communities in their goals by giving access to information and finding funding. To quote a press release by GATE:
“All around the world, trans* and intersex people face fierce discrimination, ceaseless violence and incalculable ridicule because of who we are. We also face barriers in pursuing education, obtaining health care and receiving fair treatment by police and other authorities,” said Justus Eisfeld, co-director of GATE. “While a small number of foundations and donors understand that trans* and intersex communities need support as we advocate for justice, most do not. We urge other donors to take up this opportunity to advance human rights and fund our movements.”
Their reflection on the needs to remove the barriers that deny trans* individuals education, health care, and equal protection from police and authorities are relevant to Juang’s discussion of individuals such as S. and Tyra, both who were denied these privileges associated with citizenship. With further reading I discovered Susan Stryker to be on the international advisory board, who I believe we have all come to accept as a reliable source. At the same time I cannot help but think critically of the multicultural/global approach of activism, as discussed in Juang’s article, how can trans* rights be synonymous worldwide if the definition of trans* isn’t necessarily translatable itself? GATE does have representatives and advisors worldwide, so perhaps these differences are discussed and understood. I find the activism work of Spade to be a more revolutionary plight, as it focuses on all systems of oppression, and all individuals involved, and works at a local level trying to bring justice and alter systems as they exist here in America. At the same time the work of GATE to recognize the exclusion of trans* individuals from existing systems, and the dangers of labeling transgender as a mental disorder are relevant and important steps in the world of trans* activism as we have discussed and identified in the classroom, and unlike hate crime legislation, G.A.T.E focuses on raising the state of living for trans* people instead of being transfixed on their death.
Currently GATE is trying to advocate for the rights of Monica Jones, who was wrongfully accused of sex work and arrested and harassed by police. ” Action is planned to show we won’t tolerate systematic profiling and criminalization of transgender people of color and sex workers” To quote Monica:
Ms. Jones states, “I believe I was profiled as a sex worker because I am a transgender woman of color, and an activist. I am a student at ASU, and fear that these wrongful charges will affect my educational path. I am also afraid that if am sentenced, I will be placed in a men’s jail as a transgender woman, which would be very unsafe for me. Prison is an unsafe place for everyone, and especially trans people.”
This is very relative to our discussions and readings that reference the systematic violence and exclusion that exists in the current situation. The intersectionality of race and gender is apparent in the situation of Ms.Jones as she is being persecuted for both. Thus I think it is more effective to rally for the complete reconstruction of systems as they currently exist to be inclusive of the issues that challenge every group not included in the idnetity the current systems where intended for.
Link to GATE :