What happened at the International Symposium on Trans* Health
From October 5th to 8th 2022, in Geneva took place the International Symposium on Trans* Health. Mandated by the Office of Equality Promotion and Violence Prevention (BPEV) of the Canton of Geneva, the Épicène Association organized the conference. It approximated a total of 27 hours of conference time, and close to 40 speakers, with only one focus: the health of trans* and non-binary people, and for the first time in Switzerland.
From the get-go, a very compassionate and caring atmosphere was set. The volunteers were attentive and present, asking for conference goers’ consent before attaching the wristbands, all questions were welcomed with benevolence, even the most questionable ones, and other details.
The speakers ranged from people concerned by the topics, young and old; medical professionals in the fields of surgery, psychology, biology, and more; professionals working in the associative field regarding trans* health and rights. A wide panel which provided a balanced and holistic approach to the vast topic that is trans* health.
The conclusions were as follows:
• The trans population is in worse health than the cis-gendered one;
• There is only 10% of infallible evidence in health systems in general, why should health for trans people be any different?
• In Switzerland, there is a need for (at least) one center dedicated to the health of trans* people. It should approach care in a holistic way, taking into account pre and post-operative care, and with teams that aren’t only surgical;
• The barriers to solutions are rather imagined, than in the execution and possibilities;
• There is a necessity to work on the care of older trans* people. Especially as they are even more prone to abuse, are accustomed to being abused, have a greater weariness of having to explain their identity permanently, and have returning suicidal risks despite successful transitions;
• There is clear and expressed political support – from different government bodies and political ‘sides’;
• Silence also kills;
• There is a multitude of research, training, and awareness tools available out there;
• And finally; the symposium was clearly necessary to improve the handling of trans* people and have the same qualities of care as cis people, and also because there still is opposition.
This last bit was demonstrated clearly by the need for security throughout the four days and the presence of TERFs. Even though they did not come to engage in discussions or share their ideas, stickers were found in the bathrooms proclaiming ‘trans ideology erases women’ & ‘celebrate diversity by silencing women. Let’s remind ourselves that these political debates have nothing to do with the well-being of people.
It’s important to highlight the presence of Dr. Thelma Linet, OBGYN in Paris, and the only medical professional directly concerned by the topic who spoke during the symposium. Her presence was a huge gift, it was very comforting to have a healthcare professional who is concerned. Her intervention was useful in de-dramatizing and trivializing trans identities as well as offering a caring approach towards trans* and non-binary.
Overall, this conference was a great success. A big congratulations for all the work, to the Épicène team and all the volunteers. We can only wish more people would have attended it and understood the urgency and clear needs discussed.
Hopefully, next time, a greater focus will be made on trans non-binary health, and on differentiating it from trans binary health.
Note: All (minus one, for legal reasons) the sessions were filmed and will be put online in December as well as the visual support of most of the interventions.