To: World Professional Association for Professional Health (WPATH)
European Professional Association for Transgender Health (EPATH)
From: Transgender Professional Association for Transgender Health (TPATH)
We are writing you to express our concern about the Code of Conduct recently published to EPATH’s website. We are concerned not just with the late date at which this Code was published (Mar 22, 2017, just 16 days before the conference), or that its distribution was not widely shared beyond this site, but primarily that the content of this Code contains a number of concerning statements.
For example, we welcome the inclusion of policies that might curb the tendency of cisgender professionals to take non-consensual pictures of transgender participants (“photography or recording without explicit consent”), something that has happened all too often at past conferences; however, we are alarmed that this same set of policies might be used to curb the freedom of all participants to communicate the harm caused by certain presenters and methodologies. such as by filming for documentation or acts of protest like speeches and silent picketing. These methods, steeped as they are in the tradition of WPATH and history, may indeed be “disruptive”, but any “public humiliation” experienced by the recipients might better be attributed to their own failure to respond to more ‘reasonable’ dialogue over the years and decades that preceded these actions.
Furthermore, we find the addition of a provision for “contacting [the] police” in the event of disruption or other incidents of that nature unacceptable in any situation, but particularly in Serbia, where protections for LGB and transgender people are still developing and human rights violations by police against both transgender and non-transgender citizens are well-documented. Ultimately it appears that EPATH and WPATH are threatening to retaliate against civil disobedience and/or protest by invoking the disproportionate violence of the state.
Additionally, we are concerned by early reports that the Code of Conduct is being unevenly applied against trans participants, with cisgender professionals left to ignore it. In particular, we are alarmed by reports that the language guidelines directing presenters to use gender affirming guidelines are being flagrantly violated, as are directions to obtain permission from subjects before presenting their pictures.
We agree that a Code of Conduct for these events is advisable; however, any such Code must be created in collaboration with all affected parties. We therefore recommend both rescinding the current Code, pending the creation of a process for designing a one that is respectful and robust, and viewing any potential occurrences at EPATH Belgrade in light of the harm that may be caused by repressing them.
Going forward, TPATH would be more than happy to participate in the development and consultation processes.
The Transgender Professional Association for Transgender Health Leadership Team;
Noah Adams, MSW, Toronto, Canada
Tani Anakak, Southern Africa
Lukas Berredo, MA, Berlin, Germany
Dani Castro, MA, MFT, Oakland, California
Rense Havinga, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Ruth Pearce, PhD, Leamington UK
Cianán B. Russell, PhD, Bangkok, Thailand
Jaimie Veale, PhD, Hamilton, New Zealand
Vreer Verkerke, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Reubs Walsh, MSC, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands