ILGA World has an ongoing commitment to advancing the human rights of LGBTI people by paying particular attention to determinants of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. These determinants are essential to advance the human rights of trans, gender diverse, intersex people, and lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women.
Since 2015, ILGA World has had a dedicated programme to advance the rights of trans people by strengthening work at the global and regional levels.
We have been part of milestone achievements, such as the removal of pathologising trans categories in the International Classification of Diseases in 2018 and the creation and renewal of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI. We have also co-founded the UN Trans Advocacy Week, in which a coalition of trans-led organisations and programmes has brought trans human rights defenders to Geneva annually since 2017.
In 2020, this work expanded into the Gender Identity, Gender Expression, and Sex Characteristics (GIESC) programme, created from our ever-growing engagement with intersex communities. In 2022, our programme led the first-ever Intersex Advocacy Week at the United Nations and launched the Intersex Legal Mapping Report in 2023. This report compiles legal information about intersex worldwide and seeks to create awareness about the human rights violations experienced by intersex people.
Addressing human rights violations against trans, gender diverse, intersex people and LBQ women roots in the assessment that violence, discrimination, and prejudice against persons of diverse SOGIESC have a common cause: the cis-endosex-heteronormative, ableist, cultural, medical, and social model in which gender and sex are perceived as binary, mutually exclusive, medically normative, or a consequence of a person's particular body. Being of a certain (binary) gender is consequently considered unchangeable, and societies have expectations towards a person's social role and behaviour based on their sex and gender, which includes the conceptualisation of sexual attraction as exclusively heterosexual. Trans, gender diverse, intersex people, and LBQ women are particularly affected, as well as gay men, by the binary gender model that defines being straight, cis and endosex as the norm.
Rooted in feminist principles, the programme seeks to expand ILGA World’s work in the field, build bridges, and strengthen allyship with feminist and women’s movements. In addition, the GIESC programme collaborates with other intersectional social justice movements, which are equally impacted by the anti-rights rhetoric.
In 2023, our programme aimed to expand our programmatic work by engaging across different movements, especially with feminist and women’s rights organisations, particularly those working to advance women’s human rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). We are alarmed by how trans, gender-diverse, and intersex rights are currently debated in some contexts as opposed to women’s rights. It is our analysis that only with a strong and united trans, gender-diverse, intersex, and women’s rights movement will we be able to counter the anti-gender rhetoric that undermines our rights and pushes for conservative and anti-democratic agendas.
The aims of the GIESC programme are to:
- Advocate for meaningful inclusion of GIESC issues in the programmatic, policy and normative work of multilateral institutions — in particular UN human rights mechanisms;
- Build institutional relationships in and across multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, and key stakeholders to mainstream trans, gender-diverse, intersex, and women’s issues:
- Raise visibility, awareness, and allyship within the ILGA regions and the broader LGBTI movement on issues pertaining to gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics;
- Work towards the depathologisation and decriminalisation of trans, gender-diverse, and intersex persons at all levels;
- Support ILGA World’s research to cover GIESC issues in the organisation’s research portfolio holistically, ensuring trans, gender-diverse, intersex, and LBQ communities help conceptualise and deliver such research;
- Empower trans, gender-diverse, intersex people, and LBQ women organisations and communities in all their diversities to advocate for their rights;
- Support community organising led by trans, gender-diverse, intersex people, and LBQ women globally;
- Raise visibility and awareness on (SO)GIESC issues within the feminist movement(s) and engage with feminist and women’s rights organisations;
Serve as a bridge between feminist and intersectional movements by encouraging and supporting collaboration and coalition building.