"Caribbean trans in action": building a Caribbean regional transgender movement
J. Simpson1, I. McKnight2
1Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS), Georgetown, Guyana, 2Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Kingston, Jamaica
Issues: Building a regional, rights-based movement of transgender communities in the Caribbean requires continuous and sustained support from stronger allied groups with common values and similar goals.
Description: CARIFLAGS and CVC co-organized the first Caribbean regional transgender meeting in Curacao from September 24 to 26, 2009, bringing together 15 persons of transgender experience from 9 Caribbean countries - Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Martin, Dominica, Curacao, Jamaica and Belize. As the first regional gathering of its kind, the meeting took the form of a training and strategy consultation on transgender human rights and health issues. Aiming to equip transgender leaders in the region to better advocate for their human rights and health care that meets their needs, the meeting took a participatory approach which allowed the participants to determine a strategic agenda to advance transgender issues in the Caribbean and form an alliance of transgender activists in the region - Caribbean Trans in Action - while electing its first regional board.
Lessons learned: This historic convening was an important first step in building a regional transgender movement but given that transgender activism is relatively new to the Caribbean, this alliance will require continuous and sustained support from more established groups in the region to build its capacity to manage its own affairs. The board of Caribbean Transgenders in Action will also need to be supported in work-planning in order to move the Curacao strategic agenda from intention to action. CARIFLAGS, as the wider Caribbean regional LGBT network, and CVC, a regional coalition of key, affected populations, have overlapping interests, invaluable expertise and are well placed to support this newer regional grouping.
Next steps: CARIFLAGS and CVC are working towards mobilizing resources to support a work-planning meeting of its new regional board and a larger, follow-up meeting of Caribbean Trans in Action.
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