Hopes were high when Aotearoa New Zealand became the first nation to hold an inquiry into discrimination experienced by trans people in 2006. 200 people rocked up to talk to the Human Rights Commission. The subsequent report found 80% had experienced discrimination, from avoidance and insults to violent physical and sexual assaults. Difficulties accessing affordable healthcare including around gender reassignment services were widespread – but so were problems with finding somewhere to live, work and play – the kinds of things that we should all be able to take for granted.
According to questions in parliament a couple of months ago, progress on the report’s recommendations has been slow and patchy. The decision not to explicitly include gender identity within the Human Rights Act because this government feels it’s covered already by “sex” – without going to select committee – may need to be tested by an individual trans person, according to Rainbow Wellington.
I’m interested particularly in how the government answered questions about whether they had implemented a human rights education programme to improve understandings about human rights and discrimination issues for trans people. They said:
The Human Rights Commission has worked to improve the public’s understanding, and that of the transgender community, of gender identity issues by: running workshops in five cities alongside the Assume Nothing exhibition (from April 2008 – February 2010); hosting two national human rights training hui for trans people including opportunities for them to meet with government officials; collating FAQs, resource lists links and workshop notes from that human rights education work which should soon be on the HRC’s website; and created on line FAQs and resources, some specifically targeted to enable schools to support trans students. The HRC has also: included a chapter on the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Human Rights in New Zealand 2010; supported the Outgames Human Rights Conference and the pre-conference regional hui for trans and intersex people.
These are good things, but not exactly wide-reaching in terms of numbers. And I’m not sure that to reduce discrimination we need to be working with trans people – unless the aim is increased reporting – seems like it’s cis types who probably need the learning. So here’s something kinda cool (with some potentially triggering scenes, so please be careful) from trans activists in the USA, focusing on access to public toilets:
So bring on the toilet training. Because as Helen Keller said, the highest result of education is tolerance.