One of the Asia Pacific’s leading transgender activists has warned against rising violence and discrimination against transgender people in the region and has urged concerned community members to unite in concerted action against prejudice and inequality.
Tuisina Ymania Brown – a Fa’afafine trans activist from Samoa – made the warning and call to action while accepting a prestigious lifetime achievement award for her activism at the recent Asia Pacific HERO Awards gala in Bangkok.
Standing for HIV, Equality and Rights, the HERO Awards acknowledges outstanding service to the HIV response in Asia and the Pacific, and to the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. Ms Brown was one of 10 people and organisations who were honoured at the gala World AIDS Day event on 22 November at The Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok which was a fundraiser for the Bangkok-based APCOM Foundation, a leading NGO which works to fight HIV and advance LGBTI health and rights across the Asia Pacific region.
Ms Brown received the Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement for decades of groundbreaking activism for transgender people and communities in the Pacific, Asia and internationally. The award, presented by APCOM, is named after the late Shivananda Khan, APCOM’s founder and a pioneering hero of the Asia Pacific response to HIV and LGBTI health and rights.
During her acceptance speech, Ms Brown said while transgender people are becoming more visible across the region, the increase in visibility is being accompanied by rising violence against transgender people.“Parents are grieving for the loss of their trans children’s lives to violence, murder and suicide. So while we are out there being visible, being present, showing up to forums to represent and fight and claim our human rights and dignity back, there are others that are mapping out our demise. They do this because of misplaced fears, and twisted ideas about the supremacy of the binary when we know, in Asia and there Pacific and around the world, there are many genders on the spectrum, and many more sexual orientations. That is science. That is fact.
“We have major issues in our region of inequality, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status and we do not have universal access to health and social services. We need to continue to work together with governments, civil society, regional institutions and other stakeholders to advance the social inclusion of our LGBTI Asia Pacific people because our marginalisation results in various forms of stigma and discrimination.
“So to all the younger LGBTIQ activists that are coming up and stepping up, stay united in our fight for full and unconditional acceptance, for freedom from violence and discrimination, for lives to be enjoyed in a truly free and equal society, with full access to treatment of our health issues including HIV and AIDS. We will always remember. We will never forget. And we will not rest.”
Holding a Masters Degree in Law, Ms Brown became the first transwoman and first person from the Asia Pacific region to be elected as Co-Secretary General of ILGA World, the United Nations of LGBTIQ organisations and NGO’s with over 1400 member organisations in over 150 countries. Ms Brown has also led the International Trans Fund and the Global Interfaith Network on Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity.
The videos can be viewed on the APCOM youtube channel.