Editorial

Transgender conference a sign of the times

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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THE Jamaican brand has taken quite a battering from the local and international LGBTQ community, having been tagged “homophobic” — meaning possessing an aggressive intolerance of anything less than a heterosexual lifestyle.

For that reason, among others, we find it encouraging, though not surprising, that the transgender community is staging what they say is their second annual Trans Health and Wellness Conference set for June 25, 2019 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

We in this space have never accepted the description of the majority of Jamaicans as homophobic. True to their religious conviction, most Jamaicans might be opposed to the gay and trans lifestyle, but not violently so.

Indeed, the times they are a-changing and even many of those who were violently intolerant have moved to a centrist position in which they remain opposed to, but are increasingly tolerant of the rights of, non-heterosexual persons in our society.

One of the most telling changes has been the fact that nearly all of the high-profile entertainers who used to include violent lyrics against homosexuals in their recordings and performances have ceased to do so.

We were a bit surprised that there were any holdouts when news surfaced recently that dancehall artiste Sizzla Kalonji was banned from participating in a tour of the United States, following a highly publicised ban from 'Sting' in 2014.

Obviously, the campaign to decriminalise buggery – sex between men – has not gone the way the gay community would have liked. But even at that, it allowed for open debate of the issues which, we suspect, has been of more benefit than harm to those advocating decriminalisation. That, given time, will come too, we expect.

Of course, for LGBTQ people who have felt the pain of not being free to choose whom to love, that day can't come too soon. The more impatient ones fail to accept that long-held positions don't just disappear overnight.

In the meantime, it is good to see that the transgender community feels so confident as to be able to stage their second annual TransWave Jamaica - Trans Health and Wellness Conference at a popular hotel in “broad daylight”.

“We will be centring the trans community in a rich and exciting day of engagement, under the theme Trans Health JA: Promoting Inclusiveness and Equality. The conference (will)… discuss research, media and visibility, trans-inclusive health care, wellness,” said the organisers.

Interestingly, the conference comes at a time when Prime Minister Andrew Holness and People's National Party (PNP) Senator Lambert Brown are trading barbs about allegations the Government is moving to introduce legislation that could provide protection for same-sex marriages in Jamaica.

Senator Brown, speaking in the Senate last Friday, pointed to a clause in the Trust Bill and challenged its definition of personal relationship, arguing that it was unconstitutional as the constitution only recognises marriages between one man and one woman.

Mr Holness, for his part, struck back that he would not be distracted by talk about abortion, Obeah, and definitions of sexuality. He also insisted that… “We live in a democratic society, so you cannot suppress the expressions of alternative views.”

The times truly are a-changing.


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