Keynotes

Religion, Spirituality and Wellbeing for Trans People – by dr. Susannah Cornwall

Abstract

This keynote lecture introduces some historical and contemporary responses to trans people from various faith traditions prevalent in Europe, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, and asks whether and how religion and spirituality may be positive sources of wellbeing for trans people today. It identifies barriers to good spiritual care provision within healthcare systems, and explores how these may be overcome.

Bio

Susannah Cornwall is Senior Lecturer in Constructive Theologies at the University of Exeter, UK, and director of EXCEPT (Exeter Centre for Ethics and Practical Theology). She currently leads the Modelling Transgender Spiritual Care project in partnership with the West of England NHS Specialist Gender Identity Clinic. She is the author of several books on the theologies of sex, gender and sexuality, including Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology (2010); Controversies in Queer Theology (2011); Theology and Sexuality (2013); and, most recently, Un/familiar Theology: Rethinking Sex, Reproduction and Generativity (2017).

She also edited Intersex, Theology, and the Bible: Troubling Bodies in Church, Text and Society (2015); Thinking Again About Marriage: Key Theological Questions (2016, with John Bradbury); and a special issue of the journal Modern Believing, on variant sex and gender, law and the church.

Becoming myself – by Vladimir Luxuria

Bio

Member of Parliament of the 15th Legislature during the Prodi government, she was the first transgender person to be elected to the parliament of a European state. She promoted and was the first to sign the bill of law on transgender rights, and has been committed to LGBT+ rights for many years with the Circolo di Cultura Omosessuale Mario Mieli, where she has served as artistic director since 1993. During this time she was responsible for creating the renowned Muccassassina event, which today still represents a cult event for LGBT+ friendly nightlife in the Capital, and which over the years has hosted international artists of the caliber of David LaChapelle, Grace Jones, Rupert Everett and Alexander McQueen. In July 2012 she gave a talk at the Global LGBT Workplace Summit, an international debate on employment organised in London by OUT and EQUAL, a US organisation engaged in securing workplace equality for the LGBT community. An undisputed commentator on major newspapers and the most important national television programs, she has also written novels and was awarded the Premio Margutta for literature in 2011.

Depathologisation: opportunities and challenges – by Dinah Bons

Abstract

Depathologisation is currently the greatest opportunity to improve trans people’s health and well-being. For it to become a reality many agents must take action: governments, insurers, institutions and professionals. We are at crucial time: the WHO has taken a clear position to end stigmatisation through wrongly coding trans identities as mental illnesses, countries and regions are passing depathologising legislation and healthcare protocols are being developed. On the other rising populist sentiments across Europe put pressure on trans people and might distort the historic chance to revolutionize how we think trans-specific healthcare. TGEU will briefly offer an overview of the current situation in Europe, potential obstacles and give an inspiring outlook of progress that is also taking place.

Bio

Dinah Bons is the strategic director of Transgender Europe (TGEU) working on the implementation of the strategic goals and development of the organisation, representation, fundraising and cooperation. She works closely with the Policy team. She is also founder and director of the Amsterdam trans health clinic; a trans led medical center with health care, psychological care, social care, HIV and STD care. She has been an activist in Trans United, PROUD Union for sexworkers, HIV Vereniging, NSWP and ICRSE and has a background of 15 years of management experience. Dinah brings intersectional stigma to the table, cross-cutting ethnicity, discrimination, erasure of trans black and people of colour, sexworkers’ rights, access to trans health care for minorities and speaking up for trans migrants.

Sexual Intimacy, Gender Identity and ‘Fraud’ – by prof. dr. Alex Sharpe

Abstract

Despite a trajectory of reform, transgender people continue to face numerous problems in European societies: violence, workplace discrimination, inadequate healthcare … the list goes on (and on). However, and importantly, these and other material realities are underscored by a prior violence, what we might call an ontological wound. I am speaking here of the denial of gender identity. Many other concrete problems can be viewed as symptoms of this deeper refusal, at the level of civil society, if not the state, to recognise us as properly gendered, and therefore as fully human.

In order to illuminate this problem, my lecture will focus on an example from the UK, one that serves both to dramatise the problem and to emphasis the stakes for trans people. The example I will explore is one borne of material reality: the criminal prosecution of young trans and other gender non-conforming youth for not disclosing their gender histories prior to intimacy (R v Gemma Barker [2012] unrep; R v Chris Wilson [2013] unrep; R v Justine McNally [2013] EWCA Crim 1051; R v Gayle Newland [2015] unrep; R v Kyran Lee (Mason) [2015] unrep; R v Jason Staines [2016] unrep; R v Gayle Newland [2017] unrep). All of these defendants were convicted, most have received custodial sentences, and all have been placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The lecture will provide a series of arguments against the bringing of such prosecutions for what is, after all, desire-led intimacy. To that end, it will, in addition to considering privacy and non-discrimination rights, interrogate the key criminal law and philosophical concepts of consent, harm and deception, and will reveal the cisnormative frame through which each is constructed. Ultimately, the test of our humanity might best be gauged at such sites of desire and their disavowal, at the point where trans and cis bodies most intimately touch.

Bio

Alex is a Law Professor at Keele University (2004 – present)  and a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, London. She also holds an Adjunct Chair at the Crime and Justice Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology (2014 -). She is a social and legal theorist, legal historian and gender, sexuality and the law scholar and activist. She has been writing about transgender/law issues for over twenty years and is extensively published on this subject and others. Her publications include: Transgender Jurisprudence: Dysphoric Bodies of Law (Cavendish, 2002); Foucault’s Monsters and the Challenge of Law (Routledge, 2010) and, most recently, Gender Identity Fraud: Reframing the Legal and Ethical Debate (Routledge, 2018).

Alex sits on the International Legal Committee of WPATH (World Professional Association of Transgender Health), a law reform body which makes amicus curiae interventions in litigation worldwide, and on Amnesty International’s Expert Committee on the Criminalisation of Sexual and Reproductive Conduct. She regularly advises government departments, members of parliament, law firms and public interest advocacy organisations both in the UK and overseas concerning trans/law issues, and has a significant media profile. She has also been cited judicially including by US and Australian courts, as well as by the European Court of Human Rights.

She is also a massive David Bowie fan, and especially appreciative of his Mozart years (1971-1977).