London, July 16th 2015
I am very honored to receive this award, which I accept understanding it as a great acknowledgement of collective achievements in collective struggles. And by collective I have specially in mind those human rights activists in many Global South countries, those who everyday challenge and change the world beyond the limits of the English language, and whose deeply transformative knowledge and practices rarely obtain international recognition. I am saying this recognizing, of course, that trans geopolitics defy mapping conventions, and that many trans people face extreme poverty, social and institutional violence, criminalization and incarceration in so-called Global North countries, in particular, trans women of color, trans sex workers, trans migrants, trans people who are HIV positive, and trans people in the prison industrial complex.
Just yesterday, and after struggling for decades, the trans movement in Ireland achieved their gender identity law. I am a proud member of a movement that all around the world is challenging the perverse politics of making trans people pay the high price of pathologization for their human rights. And I am a very proud member of the Argentinian trans movement, leading the way to granting full access to legal recognition and transitional healthcare. Argentina is proving to the world that the only valid requirement to access those rights is respecting human rights, and that it’s possible.
As many other intersex activists I started my involvement with the intersex movement because of experiences that until recent times were defined as simply “medical”. After more than twenty years we have expropriated that definition, and are putting those normalizing procedures that mutilated our lives where they belong: a horrific list of human rights violations. However, those human rights violations against intersex people keep taking place, everyday, everywhere –including the same medically unnecessary interventions, but also genetic de-selection, selective abortion, sterilization and the many forms of stigma, discrimination and violence. This means that we not only must place this present reality definitively in the past of human kind, but also in the horizon of a reparative justice.
I don’t want to lie to you. I am accepting this award on equality works sustaining, at the same time, that for both trans and intersex people equality is not a standard, but still an aspiration –I would say, even access to defining the very meaning of equality happens to be still aspirational. Therefore, I interpret this ceremony as the expression of a shared commitment in expanding the realization of critical equalities.
This award is a warm and encouraging recognition of our collective work. I would like to share it with GATE, the organization that has been my place in the world for the last six years, its Board, staff, donors, former and current co-directors; with the Intersex Fund at Astraea, thanking them for the chance of supporting it; with Akahata, and its undefeatable belief in Latin American activism; with the International Stop Trans Pathologization Campaign, for sharing the dream, and with Iñaki Regueiro and Emiliano Litardo, who work to give those dreams the force of law.
My surgeon would be very surprised to know that I am here, speaking out loud instead of sleeping and recovering. Waking up is a long and difficult process, and I am extremely grateful with those activists and friends that helped me out of that nightmare and got me into activism: Marcelo Ferreyra, María Luisa Peralta, Lohana Berkins and Alejandra Sardá.
I really appreciate your hospitality tonight. I am alone here, a language and an ocean away from home so I would like to share this moment with those that, invisibly, accompany me everywhere. With the loving memory of the revolutionaries that raised me, my grandparents Juana Seguí and José Siriczman, with my siblings Pablo, Julieta and Anabela and my niece Carmela; with Juan Duggan, the friend whose love saved my life, and with my partner and companion in survival and joy, Elian Faiman.
Director of Programs and Advocacy
GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality