Wednesday, 2 November 2011

STRAP commends the PAP

On 27 October 2011, the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) released a statement affirming the inherent dignity of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Filipinos. The statement is considered historic and groundbreaking. STRAP sent a letter of commendation addressed to the PAP leadership which is posted in full below.

Dr Maria Caridad H. Tarroja PhD
Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP)

CC: Prof Jay A. Yacat
Head, PAP Public Interest Committee

Dear Dr Tarroja

We, the members of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), the pioneer support group and human rights advocacy organization of transpinays ( transgender/transsexual Filipinas), commend the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) for its October 2011 statement on Non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and congratulate the PAP for taking a clear and unequivocal stand against any form of prejudice directed toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos.

We share the PAP’s view that indeed “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos continue to experience stigma, prejudice and discrimination in Philippine society.” This stigma, unfortunately, is perpetuated by individuals and institutions connected to the field of psychology and psychiatry whose precepts have been used to “cure” and change people’s sexual orientation and gender identity through harmful and unethical reparative therapies.

We hope that the PAP’s statement will just be one of the many steps it will take to bring the practice of psychology out of the darkness that views a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity as a condition that needs to be treated, cured or suppressed into the light of affirming the agency of every human person and their capacity to self-determine their gender and sexuality. We hope as well that the PAP’s statement will reflect a psychological practice in the Philippines that strikes a balance between science and humanity, a psychology that adds to and does not take away from every Filipinos’ right to lead meaningful, happy and fulfilling lives free from the stigma of psychopathology.

We salute the leadership of today’s PAP. We hope that your wisdom and courage will mold a generation of psychologists who are more humane, more caring and more nurturing of the Filipino mind, body and spirit! Mabuhay kayo at mabuhay ang PAP!

In solidarity,

Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)

Written for STRAP by Chairwoman Ms Naomi Fontanos

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Transpinay speaks on German panel

Naomi Fontanos, STRAP Chairwoman

20 October 2011 – Naomi Fontanos, chairwoman of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) the pioneer human rights advocacy organization of transgender/transsexual Filipinas or transpinays, spoke on a panel called Trans* Rights Are Human Rights organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Berlin, Germany on 5 October 2011, Wednesday (see video below). The panel focused on the initial research findings of the TransRespect Vs TransPhobia (TvT) Project of Transgender Europe (TGEU), which investigates the legal and social situation of transgender people globally.

Talking about transpeople in East and Southeast Asia, Fontanos said "From East Asia to Southeast Asia, transpeople face a similar situation: silenced, excluded and erased. Most transpeople have no say over their identities; their lived realities are belittled and dismissed and state and cultural forces act to render them powerless, with no control over their own lives.”

“Like others elsewhere in the world, transpeople in East and Southeast Asia are coerced to make a choice between a life of dignity and their gender identity as if these two were exclusive of each other,” she added.

The packed auditorium was attended by locals, human rights advocates, and members of the media and the transcommunity in Berlin. In the panel with Fontanos were Carla LaGata and Jan Simon Hutta, the main TvT researchers, Witnes Booysen, Outreach Coordinator of GenderDynamix in South Africa, Tamara Adrian, a lawyer and transactivist from Venezuela, Agniva Lahiri, Executive Director of People Like Us (PLUS) Calcutta, Joleen Mataele, Chairperson of the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN) from Tonga and Kristian Randelovic of Transgayten in Serbia. The panel was chaired by Julia Ehrt, co-chair of TGEU.

You can see a video of the panel here.

Monday, 19 September 2011

STRAP's ASEAN Declaration

On 20-21 September 2011, the Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB) will be holding a regional training-workshop entitled Women's Rights in the ASEAN: Maximizing Human Rights Mechanisms in the ASEAN that seeks to strengthen women's rights groups' engagement with and participation in the ASEAN. Below is STRAP's official statement written by Co-founder Ms Sass Rogando Sasot and edited by Chairwoman Ms Naomi Fontanos released in the regional training-workshop.

Recalling the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that states that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world;”

Affirming Article 1 of the UDHR that states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and that “they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood;”

Affirming Article 6 of the UDHR that states that “everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law;”

Affirming Article 22 of the UDHR that states that “everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality;”

Invoking Purposes 1.1 and 1.6 of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which respectively are “to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of the peoples of ASEAN,” and “to uphold international human rights standards as prescribed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are parties;”

Recalling that the top priority of the ASEAN Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) includes “elimination of violence against women and children; trafficking in women and children; women and children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS; social impact of climate change on women and children; promotion and protection of the rights of women and children with disabilities; ASEAN and other instruments related to the rights of women and children; child protection system: integrative/comprehensive approach for children in need for social protection; the right to quality education, including Early Childhood Care, Development and Education (ECCDE); the right of children to participate in all affairs that affect them; women participation in politics and decision making, governance and democracy; strengthening economic rights of women with regards to feminization of poverty, women's right to land and property; promoting implementation of international, gender equality in education (textbook, curriculum, and equal access); strengthening institutional capacities of ACWC; and promotion of consultation and dialogue with stakeholders at national and regional levels;”

Recognizing the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity;

Upholding the International Bill of Gender Rights which states that “all human beings carry within themselves an ever-unfolding idea of who they are and what they are capable of achieving. The individual’s sense of self is not determined by chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role. Thus, the individual’s identity and capabilities cannot be circumscribed by what society deems to be masculine or feminine behavior. It is fundamental that individuals have the right to define, and to redefine as their lives unfold, their own gender identities, without regard to chromosomal sex, genitalia, assigned birth sex, or initial gender role;”

Recalling the societal vision of our organization of a nurturing society that affirms, respects, and upholds the dignity, the right to self-determination and good quality of life of all;

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), in adopting this declaration, hereby:

Affirms the inherent dignity of all transgender people in the ASEAN Region and the rest of the world;

Affirms that gender identity and expression is a matter of self-determination and an exercise of the human right to the free development of personality;

Calls on the AICHR, ACWC and the ASEAN Commission to Implement the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) to uphold, protect, and promote the human rights of transgender populations across the ASEAN which include children, disabled, aging people, migrant workers and people living with HIV and AIDS;

Calls for rights-based legislation in the ASEAN member countries that (1) would protect transgender people from discrimination and bias-motivated crimes and (2) allow transgender people to change their legal sex into their gender identity.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Filipino transsexuals sue PH for discrimination vs gays at UN

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippines' number one broadsheet.

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Three Filipino transsexuals have sued the government for discriminating against gays before the United Nations, it was revealed in a forum at the University of the Philippines-Baguio last week.

Lawyer Evalyn Ursua, who represents Naomi Fontanos, Juliana Marian Giessel and Rio Moreno, said her clients still carried Philippine passports that identified them as males, owing to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that said the absence of a law regulating sexual reassignments meant that Philippine jurisprudence could not recognize their new gender.

The transsexuals, with the help of Ursua and students in UP-Diliman’s women and development studies program, complained to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last month, urging the world body to compel the Philippine government to issue a law that will recognize their change of sexual identity.

Ursua presented the complaint at a June 24 forum on transgender situation at UP Baguio.

Ursua, who was here for the 5th Baguio Gay Pride celebration, said the suit preempted the UNHRC resolution on June 17 that officially recognized gay rights and commissioned a world report for December that would compile evidence of gay discrimination in member-states like the Philippines.

The document, transmitted by Ursua to the UN on May 23, said: “Their lack of gender-appropriate legal identity has severely restricted their freedom of movement and right to travel.” Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Jocelyn Uy in Manila

Sunday, 22 May 2011

STRAP makes history with UN communication

CSWCD, UP Diliman -- The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) makes history as they send off a communication to the United Nations (UN) that calls attention to state responsibilities of the Philippine Government as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to pay careful attention to how the justice system updates itself with current developments in international human rights law in its understanding of gender identity through the lived experiences of transsexual women.

The communication aims to put a spotlight on the plight of transpinays (transsexual Filipinas) and their struggle with institutionalized transphobia--the negative attitude towards transgender people that leads to cruelty, abuse and discrimination--as demonstrated by the 2008 Supreme Court (SC) decision that denied a transsexual woman's petition for legal name and sex change. The communication, which highlights the debilitating effects of the the SC decision on the lives of three transpinays--Naomi Fontanos, Juliana Geissel and Rio Moreno--was made possible in collaboration with the Women and Development (WD) Women and the Law class 2010-2011 of the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD) under Atty. Evalyn Ursua.

The communication will be launched and sent off to the UN at the CSWCD grounds at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman at 5:30 pm on 23 May 2011.