Recover better: Protect Everyone
GATE's Statement on the Days for Human Rights and Universal Healthcare Coverage
December 10, 2020 – This week, GATE joins the observance of Human Rights Day on December 10th and International Universal Health Coverage Day on December 12th. As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, both UN Days are inextricably connected, not only in the calendar, but also in their calls to action and, ultimately, in our lives.
This year, Human Rights Day calls humanity to recover better by standing up for human rights, to “build back a world that is better, more resilient, just, and sustainable”.1 To make that recovery possible and enduring, the call for action includes ending all forms of discrimination, addressing inequalities, encouraging participation and solidarity and promoting sustainable development. In a similar sense, Universal Health Coverage Day calls to protect everyone, ensuring health for all.2
Trans, gender diverse and intersex people around the world have faced, and continue to face, the disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those consequences have been hugely worsened by the historical and structural exclusion affecting communities that were struggling to survive for a long time before the virus hit them. For us, access to healthcare has always been challenging because of the deadly combination of stigma, discrimination and violence; the pandemic only made already fragile systems even more vulnerable.
For many of us in different countries the pandemic not only means a dramatic increase in poverty and other forms of socio-economic and racial injustice, it also means an equally dramatic increase in anti-rights movements and, in particular, of those targeting sexual and reproductive rights. At a time when civil society spaces are shrinking, available funding to support human rights work is shrinking as well. As a consequence, trans, gender diverse and intersex activists find ourselves resisting both COVID-19 and anti-rights movements in rather desperate conditions.
In the midst of these challenging times, GATE celebrates today the apology expressed by The Netherlands to those trans and gender diverse people subjected to sterilization as a requirement to access legal gender recognition3; we also celebrate the apology and commitment to change offered by the Lurie4 and Boston Children’s5 Hospitals to intersex people subjected to “normalizing” interventions. These actions are decisively contributing to changing specific protocols, laws and policies but, moreover, to redefine the meaning of human and inhumane treatment in healthcare. We salute all the trans, gender diverse and intersex activists that work relentlessly to make those actions possible.