Just Talk(s): International Perspectives on Trans Rights

Last week, the Embassy team was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to co-host an event during Belfast Pride: Just Talk(s) Belfast – International Perspectives on Trans Rights.

Poster for Just Talk(s) Belfast: International Perspectives on Trans Rights
Image: Dutch Embassy UK

Just Talk(s) Belfast – International Perspectives on Trans Rights

This week is Pride Amsterdam.  The Netherlands stands with the LGBTIQ+ community worldwide. Embassy teams have joined Pride events worldwide, and work with local partners to promote equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people. The Embassy team in the UK joined the Pride Parade in London in July as members of the Diplomats for Equality delegation.

We are proud to have hosted the first Just Talk(s) event last week in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The event focused on International Perspectives on Trans Rights and took place during Belfast Pride 2022. Speakers from Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the Netherlands shared experience and expertise on international perspectives on trans rights.

Many thanks to partners Center for Gender in Politics (Queens University Belfast) and HERe NI for the close collaboration and strong network connections. It was wonderful to have this conversation in-person with so many dedicated and passionate people.

A panel of fantastic speakers and allies talked through the international perceptions and differences on trans rights, comparing the Rainbow Agreement in the Netherlands, with the Gender Recognition Acts and further legislation in both Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Different, but the same

The speakers offered compelling insights on the challenges that trans people face: gender recognition and the right to self-declaration; how the lack of access to healthcare impacts not just the physical but also mental wellbeing of trans people; and the often overlooked effect of discrimination and a lack of safe spaces on the socio-economic welfare of trans people.

Differences exist between policies and legislation in the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Ireland. However, the knowledge and stories shared between the speakers and the speakers and the audience - about continued and shared challenges, but also examples of progress and steps in the right direction – illustrate the value of gathering various perspectives in one room, and encouraging connections that can inspire.

I cannot do this alone as a trans person, nor should I have to do this alone. I need everyone to help me.”
- Matt Kennedy

A clear message

In light of the attention trans rights has received in the media over the last couple of years, speakers touched on the issue of backlash. The speakers pointed out that this perceived backlash against trans rights is largely disingenuous, and hyped by loud voices. However, it is a worrying trend that can have serious consequences.

The focus turned to what we can do as individuals, organisations and institutions to support trans rights. Community is very important in this: transforming society requires us all.

Just Talk(s) speakers
Image: Dutch Embassy UK

What does the Netherlands do

“It may sound like empty words when we say that we are ‘very worried’ about the backlash and that we ‘follow it closely’, but at the same time, saying this as government really does mean something internationally.”

- Max de Blank

The Dutch Government believes that everyone should have the right to be themselves. It does not matter who you are or whom you love. That is why the Netherlands promotes equal rights for Trans people and members of the LGBTIQ+ community worldwide. 

In recent years the Netherlands has taken steps in promoting and strengthening trans rights. This began with the apologies the state offered to the transgender and intersex community in 2021 for the suffering that they experienced as a consequence of the terms of the former transgender law. After this summer, the new transgender law will be discussed in parliament. 

Read more about the strategy and approach of the Dutch Government here.  

Feedback cards
Image: ©Dutch Embassy UK / Dutch Embassy UK
Feedback cards received after the event

Just Talk(s): new locations, new partners, and new networks

As North Sea Neighbours, the UK and the Netherlands are likeminded and key partners on a number of important issues.  

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK is developing Just Talk(s) - a series of in-person events with speakers from the Netherlands, UK and beyond discuss different topics in the context of the shared values of Human Rights, equality, and diversity.

The goal of these events is to facilitate dialogue and knowledge exchange, find (new) partnerships and learn from each other.  In order to encourage interaction between speakers - and between speakers and the audience - the events provide an informal and safe platform for those involved. The Embassy aims to use these events to strengthen relevant networks and visibility on certain topics, looking outside of London and working with (new) local partners.

Under the umbrella themes of Human Rights, equality, and diversity, the Embassy intends to develop events on topics such as equal opportunities in education, Media Freedom, Climate, and accountability.  

Future Just Talk(s)

We plan to organise Just Talk(s) events over the next year, throughout the UK. Keep an eye on our socials for more information!

Are you interested in organizing a Just Talk(s) with us in your city? We want to hear from you! Contact us here.

Belfast street art
Image: ©Dutch Embassy UK / Dutch Embassy UK