Friday, April 22, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
To commemorate the International Transgender Day of Visibility 2016 observed on March 31 just a few days ago, the Guyana Trans United (GTU) and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) held a special media engagement which lead into a “Brunch Talk” forum to discuss the recent case where a male-to-female transgender person, Twinkle, was barred from attending matters in the Georgetown court by Magistrate Dylon Bess for “cross-dressing” by presenting herself in female attire.
Justice delayed is Justice Denied
Twinkle spoke of her experiences from the incident to the actual court hearing. GTU member Twinkle talked about transphobic hate crimes perpetuated against her. In this particular instance, she was attacked by a man because of her gender identity. After being hit in the head with a glass bottle, Twinkle defended herself against the man which caused him bodily harm and he reported this to the police. She reported that the police did not take any reports from her and although she was physically harmed, no medical report was facilitated. “The police didn’t treat me as a matter of concern. They didn’t ask for a medical or anything because they said they didn’t see any injuries but the man got taken care of,” Twinkle said.
At the court hearing, Magistrate Dylon Bess who presided refused to even acknowledge the case, asking Twinkle to change her clothing before she could present herself to his court. “I had to be rebellious. I don’t think the case mattered on how I’m dressed as a trans-woman.” Twinkle was fully dressed in female attire. “I wouldn’t change for a magistrate. I respect the Magistrate for his position as someone in the law and the Magistrate should respect me as a human being expressing my true identity.”
Even the Prosecutor warned Twinkle about how she presents in court stating that she, Twinkle, has little respect for the Court and if she was in America (The United States of) she was going to be locked up. Aside from being barred from the courtroom it was the Prosecutor that informed Twinkle that the Magistrate will not even listen to the case, despite that there were allegations were brought against her to defend. The case was subsequently dismissed while there were police officers guarding the gates to the Court to prevent Twinkle and other GTU members from entering the premises.
Tuesday, April 05, 2016
|Twinkle, Transgender Activist & Member of GTU|
March 31, 2016 (Georgetown, Guyana) Transgender persons in Guyana face grave levels of discrimination, harassment and humiliation and social exclusion in their daily lives. On Transgender Day of Visibility, the Guyana Trans United (GTU), Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) and the UWI Faculty of Law Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) call attention to the fundamental principle affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.
It is the duty of judges to respect a person’s gender identity, consistent with the Constitution of Guyana which guarantees that ‘the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection and benefit of the law’, universal principles of equality and non-discrimination under international law and regional and international standards of judicial conduct.
During the course of March 2016, in at least three separate incidents in the Magistrates Courts, transgender women have been prohibited by sitting Magistrates from attending court or appearing before the court in matters that relate to them because they have been dressed as women.
In one instance, Magistrate Dylon Bess in Georgetown alluded to section 153(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act which makes it an offence for any person who, ‘being a man in any public place or way, for an improper purpose, appears in female attire’. Magistrate Bess said that the law had not changed and that the defendant would not be permitted to be remain in his courtroom to answer the charges dressed as a woman.
Contrary to the Magistrate Bess’ assertions, the laws of Guyana do not prohibit a trans woman from attending court dressed as a woman. This was explicitly confirmed by the then Honourable Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Chang, in his 2013 decision in the challenge to the constitutionality of section 153(xlvii), the case of McEwan and others v The Attorney General. Individual members of GTU and SASOD as an organisation are the applicants in that case which has been appealed and is awaiting a date for a hearing before the Court of Appeal.