Category Archives: Report from Delegate

TGI Justice Project Responds to CERD Committee Concluding Observations

March 18, 2008

From Miss Major, Organizing Director, and Melenie Eleneke, TIP member:

We are profoundly grateful for the time and effort the CERD Committee has taken to listen and consider testimony from members of the U.S. transgender women of color community. However, we are deeply disappointed at the absence of concluding observations and recommendations that specifically hold the U.S. accountable for failing to ameliorate the effects of racism on transgender women of color. Please click here to visit our website and view our comments on the Concluding Observations.

UN Committee Expresses Concern to US Officials about Transgender Rights Violations

COMMITTEE IN SESSION — Oh my God! Transgenders were mentioned twice in Committee today! KUDOS! Also, in addition to Native American Nations` representatives testimonies having some great wins today in remedy requests from several Committee Members, my colonization references must have made an impact because Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian reparations were discussed and remedies requested as the US has dragged its heels on same. After the session, Major and I were able to speak to Committee Member who asked for elaboration, have a photo op, and engage in 1st dialogue about colleagues in Copenhagen!

–Mel

UN Asks Followup Questions in Response to Historic Testimony by Transgender Delegates

Members of CERD expressed interest in Major`s and my transgender testimonial messages from yesterday. One of the Committee Members asked for elaboration on the experiences I had all my life with multiple layers of discrimination and acculturation being mahuwahine and born into colonization as a US Citizen. This is powerful as the USHRN delegation is the largest of its kind and full of affected people of color providing testimony. In addition, the 2nd first is having not 1 but 2 transgenders testify . . . more tomorrow from the US delegation response to Committee questions. –Mel

UN Committee Members Express Interest in Transgender Rights

UN protocols and security measures are intense and the group has met here at the Hotel Eden Geneva and meandered in waves to Palais Nations on a trek to obtain UN credentials to allow access to both UN buildings, Palais Wilson and Palais Nations.

Thanks to the US Human Rights Network coordinators, the UN protocol orientation has provided much needed information on the delivery of testimonial messages that will have an impact on the CERD Committee members which will make them sit up and listen to our collective voices. The Dry Run of the Informal Briefing gave us crucial timing practice that will allow all of us who are providing testimonies to be able to do so in a concise and powerful manner that will be the bait to hook the Committee Members interest and elicit their much needed advocacy in our human rights campaign movement.

It has been noted that, historically, this kind of informal briefing has never happened on this large scale and we have an opportunity to productively and progressively move our efforts toward effecting some major social change in diverse communities across an ongoing continuum of unanswered US human rights violations of UN treaties ratified by the US.

Testimony after testimony has been given and everyone has been respectful of time constraints and I`m witnessing the sheer passion, respect, and dignity that everyone has brought to share at this advocacy table.

My testimony interested one Committee Member enough to speak to me for nearly 10 minutes on the cultural significance of the ”blessed by God”, as he mentioned to me, Native Hawaiian Mahuwahines and the Pakistani/Indian Hijiras. HOOKED—I felt empowered and honored that I was able to reach him through cross cultural means and that he actually took the time out of his busy schedule with as voluminous a workload as a UN Committee Member, such as he, has and is accountable to restrictive budgetary considerations and limited time constraints within which to frame his responses and recommendations.

Special Rapporteur, Dr. Doudou Diéne gave detailed requests for foundational information from the NGOs from whom he received testimony on the following issues: 1) Homelessness, 2) War on Drugs, 3) School to Prison Pipeline (Migrant Youth, Arab Americans/Migrants & Racial Discrimination, Racial Discrimination & Alternative Programs), 4) Immigrants and Migrants (Local Anti-Immigrant Ordinances, Immigrant Women), 5) Indigenous Peoples, 6) Gender and Sexuality Issues, 7) Special Measures, 8 ) Post 9/11 Issues. Snapshots of local communities were provided from Minnesota, Chicago, New York City, Texas, and California. Also, Hurricane Katrina victims were provided special testimonial time.

–Mel

Live Report from Geneva Testimony

Brisk and cold . . . Brought walking shoes and delighted . . . Good public transportation but long walks in-between.  UN space is huge and empty . . .  No direction, assistance, or help . . . Fudge your way through till you find it – leave at 7:30am to be there by 11am . . . Amazing. 

Morning – taught how to present at this forum.  UN presentation in UN Style adjust how I usually do this thing . . . calmer, kooler—dry run of testimony. 

TESTIMONY:  Mel and I did good.  We both spoke with a delegate after it concluded.  Chivy got video and is sending out . . . the video by Andrea`s group going out tonight, also.

 –Miss Major 

Rejuvenated

WOW!  The time difference between the US and Switzerland, 11 hours outbound flight time from San Francisco, a 7-hour layover in Amsterdam including a 2.5 hour bus tour (a touristy thrill that I might add will one of only a few given the scope of our impending advocacy work), and another 1 ½ hour flight to Geneva has taken its toll on every fiber of my being.  However, networking with the amazing group of US Human Rights Network coordinators and all of the other NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) representatives has rejuvenated my soul and I`m again exhilarated and ready to dig into the trenches and work alongside all of these tireless and seemingly superhuman humanitarians.

–Mel 

We Arrive in Geneva

Airport was typical except for the stares from passerby`s—none here at all . . . What a change!  Took a tour of Holland—the Netherlands.  Odd facts – 25% of the city is below the sea level, they have 168 rivers, and bridges all over the place.  Tour was 2 ½ hours –  very interesting.  Got plane to Geneva which only took 1 hr 15 min . . . I feel as if I`ve been whipped and laid out to dry.  Met with Andrea R and was introduced to others.  Brief meeting about testimony of Melenie and I … She did them up nice.  Wants us to talk again on Wed for the HIV/AIDS piece.

 –Miss Major