This year we worked together with T-Action, a transgender organisation in Russia, to bring you Russian translations of some important resources.
The resources are about healthy relationships with yourself and others. We are releasing these for Trans Day of Visibility, 31 March 2023 #TDoV.
Trans people in Russia are currently illegalised, and it is illegal to “promote” being transgender in Russia. This means that being visible poses very real danger to a trans person, and makes it incredibly hard for organisations like T-Action, which do similar advocacy to us at Gender Minorities Aotearoa.
Trans people cannot be visible without freedom from laws that criminalise us.
We stand together with trans people in every country where laws are hostile to trans existence. We are very grateful to T-Action for their continued work to support trans people, for reaching out to us, and for translating our resources.
We hope that these translations will benefit trans people in Russia, as well as Russian-speaking trans people in Aotearoa, and across the world.
Message from T-Action
Visibility is a form of empowerment.
We become stronger not only when we become visible to the cisworld, but also when some trans communities become visible to other trans communities.
On Transgender Day of Visibility, trans initiative group T-Action announce a precious collaboration with Gender Minorities Aotearoa. We proudly present you a Russian translation of resources from “The Transgender Guide to Sex and Relationships” – as translators Aleksandr Grin, Inga Grin and Anna Polyakova believe, one of the best materials on the web, created by trans people for trans people.
In a situation where any talk about transgender and sexuality is prohibited by outrageously unfair laws, an ability to access such materials is a necessity for Russian-speaking trans people. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish the translation on Gender Minorities Aotearoa website.
As we all continue to face challenges and discrimination, it is important to remember that we are not alone, the community is looking after us and ready to give us a place to belong, listen and help.
Despite the geographical distance and cultural differences, we can find common ground and work together toward a world where trans people are free to live, love, and thrive without fear of discrimination, rejection, or violence.
T-Action is the major trans organisation in Russia operating since 2014. Our mission is to empower transgender people, strengthen the trans community, and raise trans awareness and trans sensitivity in society.
In 9 years of its work, T-Action has made a “trans revolution” in health care services in Russia:
– Educated hundreds of medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other professionals about transgender physical and mental health.
– Conducted research projects about the life of trans people in Russia with medical institutions – that had never been done before.
– Changed perceptions and beliefs about transgender people in the Russian medical, media, and social field. Organized programs, research, and activities with professionals from different areas.
– Organized a Trans*Fest – a unique annual festival with educational events made by the community for the community (not for the people outside, as many trans-related events have to be). Each Trans*Fest is visited by hundreds of trans people throughout the country, both online and offline.
– Empowered many transgender people themselves to be proactive, to know, and to protect their rights.
In current times T-Action was declared a foreign agent and as a result, announced its liquidation. Instantly, a new group was founded with exactly the same goals and activities which works with and for so-called ‘kilkots’.
Within the trans community, Kilkot is a well-known mascot of our group – half-cat, half-fish, a kind of cat-mermaid – and our audience is well aware of it and associates it with us. This way, our audience easily understands the context, and, in the end, it’s just fun if we are accused of “propagating kilkotism”.
In November 2022, we will be launching a free online course on relationships and sex for transgender adults.
Whats in the course
The course will cover foundational knowledge, our relationships with ourselves and our bodies, communication, relationships, safer sex, and better sex.
It has around 12 hours of content, including videos, workbooks, and articles. It includes collaborations with Intersex Aotearoa, Adult Toy Megastore, NZPC Aotearoa – New Zealand sex workers’ collective, Dr Jen Hayward, and Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
The course is generously funded by Te Puna Aonui – diverse community initiatives fund for sexual violence prevention.
Keep up to date
If you would like to receive updates on the course, you can follow our blog using the ‘subscribe’ box in the main menu. You can also see our online courses by clicking the button below.
Today we’re sharing with you a draft of one of our videos – Solving Relationship Issues. [draft video removed – final here].
The voice files in this video are temporary – we’re looking for transgender voice actors in Aotearoa.
All of our scripts are single voice and non-sync. We’re looking for one voice actor per character, with a total of 30 characters of varying ages and genders, and scrips ranging from 29 words to around 1,000 words. The average file length is 50 words.
We’re looking for a professional job with a quick turn around. Scripts will be sent to our voice actors on September 26th, and we will need the completed files in WAV or MP3 format by October 3rd (1 week).
If you’re interested in applying, please send us your portfolio and prices by September 22nd, 2022 to [email removed as this project is now completed].
Submission on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill
We support the intent of this Bill, however as it stands we believe it does not fulfill it’s intent to protect transgender populations from conversion practices. The following are our main (though not only) concerns.
Every year we hear the personal stories of a great number of transgender people who have experienced conversion practices in healthcare settings.
They are offered anti-depressants as an alternative to being trans, or told that are simply confused and need counseling, while being referred to a counselor who doesn’t “believe in” being transgender.
Conversion Practices Carried Out in a Healthcare Setting
The Bill states that:
The purpose of this Act is to—
1. prevent harm caused by conversion practices; and 2. promote respectful and open discussions regarding sexuality and gender.
However, in its current state it defines conversion practices as not including conversion practices which are carried out in a healthcare setting. This allows healthcare providers to continue to engage in conversion practices with vulnerable patients, and effectively excludes transgender and intersex people from protection in the setting where they are most likely to experience conversion practices.
In clause 5, the Bill states:
Meaning of conversion practice
(1) In this Act, conversion practice means any practice that—
a) is directed towards an individual because of the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; and b) is performed with the intention of changing or suppressing the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
(2) However, conversion practice does not include—
a) a health service provided by a health practitioner in accordance with the practitioner’s scope of practice; or b) assisting an individual who is undergoing, or considering undergoing, a gender transition; or c) assisting an individual to express their gender identity; or d) providing acceptance, support, or understanding of an individual; or e) facilitating an individual’s coping skills, development, or identity exploration, or facilitating social support for the individual; or f) the expression only of a religious principle or belief made to an individual that is not intended to change or suppress the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The Bill compares this to similar legislation in Australia, however, all the similar exemptions in the Victoria Act are prefaced by the requirement that the practice “is supportive of or affirms a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation”.
This exemption for conversion practices in healthcare settings is not something that was suggested in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). The RIA only suggested that conversion practices are not common in healthcare settings. While this may be true for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and other sexuality minorities, it is complely contradictory to the available evidence on transgender and intersex populations, including the evidence cited by the RIA.
We need to ensure that this error is not carried through into the legislation and compounded.
Conversion Practices in Healthcare Settings Target Transgender People
The Counting Ourselves (2019) transgender research report found that more than one in six of all participants (17%) reported that a professional, “such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor”, had tried to stop them being trans or non-binary. A further 12% were not sure if this had happened to them. (p.38).
Researchers asked (p.37) “Have you had any of these things ever happen to you, as a trans or non-binary person, when you were trying to access healthcare? You were discouraged from exploring your gender…” This means that while trying to access healthcare, these transgender people were told that they should stop being transgender. This is conversion therapy, in a healthcare setting.
16% of trans people said yes, they had experienced this. 4% said they had experienced this in the last year. This means 16 out of every 100 transgender people face routine conversion therapy from doctors, therapists, and other professionals in a healthcare setting.
While healthcare practitioners must be able to make medical decisions in the best interest of their patients, that is not what conversion practices are. This Bill should not include exceptions for carrying out conversion practices in healthcare settings.
If we acknowledge that conversion practices are harmful and we want to protect rainbow people from them, we should not exclude transgender people from these protections by allowing their abuse in healthcare settings.
Nothing raised in the Regulatory Impact Assessment suggests that including conversion practices done by healthcare practitioners in the definition of conversion practices would create any issues or further risks.
Conversion Practices in Healthcare Settings Target Diverse Sex Characteristics
The exclusion from the legislation of conversion practices that are directed/performed on the basis of sex characteristics is also unacceptable. While sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are currently protected in the wording of the Bill, the Bill as it stands would allow conversion practices that target people on the basis of their variations of sex characteristics, or that aim to change their sex characteristics. This affects almost all transgender people – whose sex characteristics are not typically associated with people of their gender.
Historically, conversion practices have almost always been targeted at people based on perceived mismatches between their sex characteristics and other aspects of their sexuality and gender. Sex characteristics have often been a specific target of coercive control. It is important that the definition of conversion practices in this Bill encompasses all types of conversion therapy.
It is not necessary to use a narrow framework here: most strong definitions of conversion practices, and indeed most human rights frameworks that intend to protect rainbow communities, such as the Yogyarkata Principles plus 10, and the PRISM report by the Human Rights Commission, do not exclude sex characteristics. This is especially relevant because the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill includes an amendment to the Human Rights Act, and therefore the definition of conversion practices in that Act will be based on the language in this Bill, should it become an Act.
If conversion practices on the basis of sex characteristics are not prohibited by this Bill, these harmful practices will continue in Aotearoa.
Nothing raised in the Regulatory Impact Assessment suggests that it would create any risks or issues to include conversion practices on the basis of sex characteristics, or aimed at changing sex characteristics, in the definition of conversion practices.
What Needs to Change
The RIA identified a risk that conversion practitioners may adapt their practice to get around the legislation, while still performing conversion practices. In our professional opinion, this risk applies in healthcare settings. Therefore, it is imperative that the definition of “conversion practices” is robust.
Conversion practices in healthcare settings must be included in this definition, along with the explicit addition of conversion practices on the basis of “sex characteristics” alongside “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
Gender Minorities Aotearoa is offering a free online course, Supporting Transgender People. This course is designed to increase your knowledge of issues affecting transgender people in Aotearoa, and to build your confidence in speaking about these issues and supporting transgender people. It is a 101 course and suitable for people with any level of knowledge on transgender issues.
The course takes 2 to 3 hours to complete, and is broken into 3 sessions. You can stop at any time and continue later by logging in again. There are links to further reading at the end of some sections – these are optional and are not included in the time allocation.
This course is suitable for families, friends, supporters, and professional development. A certificate of completion is issued at the end of the course.
What each chapter covers
By the end of chapter 1. you will be able to:
1. Differentiate between gender, sex characteristics, and sex assigned at birth. 2. Explain the meaning of words like transgender, cisgender, and non-binary. 3. Talk about the difference between intersex and transgender.
By the end of chapter 2. you will be able to:
1. Understand how stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination interact. 2. Distinguish between discrimination in public life and private life. 3. Recognise the impact of discrimination across multiple areas of life. 4. Recognise physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and social impacts of discrimination.
By the end of chapter 3. you will be able to:
1. Name protective factors which assist trans peoples well-being. 2. Identify ways to support trans people in your personal life. 3. Identify ways to support trans people in their public life. 4. Find more information.
Content warning: this course discusses stigma, discrimination, and violence experienced by transgender and intersex people. Some content may be distressing.