Gabi Rosenstreich

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[00:00:00] This recording was made up a second the Asia Pacific Outgames human rights conference held in Wellington, New Zealand in March 2011. [00:00:09] my current role is I'm Executive Director of the National LGBT I Health Alliance. That's a feeling you peek body in the in Australia, that is basically an umbrella organization for individuals and organizations who work in a whole lot of different ways to improve promotes their health, and well being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, six, and a whole lot of other sexuality, sex and gender diverse people. So in that role, it's about working with very diverse individuals who organizations in a very complex environment. And part of the challenge of that is, of course, that the interests needs experiences of different parts of our multifaceted communities are often not acknowledged the certainly in the organized work that happens around LGBT rights even if in Australia, at the moment, we're using the acronym LGBT I, but a lot of the work the advocacy that is done in that area is has tended to come from the context of people best resourced, so often issues of of difference and of the different needs and of the different resources available to people to both advocate for their needs, but also to claim them are very, a lot. And I guess what I was talking about in my presentation was I was starting off with the word intersection ality because it's become very fashionable. And I think it's starting to be used a lot as a term to address the interrelations between different forms of difference. I think we've become relatively familiar with this idea that people have multiple identities. But we often don't think very much further than this about, or what does that mean, and there's often still this additive approach of Well, you're, you're either gay, or you're a migrant, or whatever. And if you're thinking in multiple terms, then maybe you can be a couple of things at once. Maybe you can be a gay migrant, or a lesbian, indigenous person or something like that. But it's still [00:02:33] hard for us to [00:02:34] conceptualize, or what does that mean, and to think beyond it being like an addition of, you've got one strand of identity, and then you've got another in US nation, hey, if you've got a couple of strands that are marginalized identities, how you must be extra unhappy, because you've got added layers of potential at least discrimination. And then it's actually a lot more complex than that. And the term intersection ality [00:03:01] is, [00:03:03] is a trying, I guess, to understand what those connections mean. And how that plays out. The point I was trying to get across was that, particularly because it's become a bit fashionable, it's often being used in a quite an reflected way. So what's often being left out of the equation is the power and balances between different social groups and the different. Yeah, I have a sociologist background, so the social capital associated with different identities. And it's quite concrete, you know, what sort of resources if I'm middle class, I have access to education that has a lot of implications of what other types of things I can access, I have access to dominant social norms of walk out yet simple stuff like etiquette, you know, what, what responses to people have to me on the basis of etiquette. So it's a whole range of things from access to money through to more diffuse resources, or power access, and that each individual [00:04:09] is positioned [00:04:11] somewhere in the intersection between an interplay of a whole lot of different social categories. And each of those categories is not a sort of an either or, and it's not associated with or you have power, or you don't, it's actually far more complex than this. And they're all continuum and they're all axes of power. So what I think is useful into talking about intersection ality is to think of it as a matrix or a whole lot of overlapping groups with associated sort of resources attached to the empower attached to them. And the individual is positioned at where they interplay. So it's not as simple as adding things up. Yeah, hey, is a lesbian, I've got less power here, but more power, because I'm white, and that it's a about, well, how does my skin color mediate [00:05:03] my experience of being a lesbian. [00:05:07] A lot of people talking at this conference around tech attack we identity, and being very clear that that's not as simple as Oh, here's the multi part of me. And here's the gay, lesbian or trans part of me, it's actually a very specific interplay, that has a really specific implications for how I understand myself what my identity means to me, the resources available to me, and how I live my life. So it's intersection ality is about trying to conceptualize that and think through the implications. And ultimately, for me, it comes down to [00:05:46] people are complicated. [00:05:48] People have access to power in relation to various parts of their experiences in society, and their parts of their identity where they're more likely to have less resources. But it's actually more an interplay of how those different axes work together. That gives you access to certain types of resources and certain needs and gifts and others. So to advocate for equity on a sort of a social level, or on an individual level in terms of social service provision, or whatever, or even our own individual rights, we actually need to be taking that complexity into account because otherwise, we're kind of missing the point, we're certainly not going to create sustained social change. And often what we're doing a lot of LGBT advocacy is often come from a position of way, disempowered, due to being gay, or being lesbian or being trends. And I note that you can be both trends and gay or lesbian, they're lumped together often as though they sort of separate but they indicate to. And by doing so, ignore all those other threads, all those other exits, were, within that pool of LGBT people, some of us have more power than others, is a whole complexity of experiences, resources, etc. and if we want to move forward around sexual orientation issues, or gender identity, or six identity issues, in an authentic way, that benefits everybody, we actually need to take that complexity into account. Because otherwise we're reproducing some of the norms of dominance and the assumptions. And generally, I'm in a very simplistically, what that means is white middle class, urban perspectives are being reproduced, and intentionally or not, excluding a vast number of other people who really theoretically at least fit under their umbrella. So to move forward as a movement, we need to take that complexity into account, to be able to provide good services, we need to take this into account, to be able to advocate for change to empower ourselves. And that means both working on an empowerment framework, but also on a power sharing framework, acknowledging where we do have power and using it very constructively for social change, [00:08:21] I think was a very good point you made in another session where you're talking about it's very easy to say, LGBT I, and a title, but to actually have that consultation and collaboration is very hard. [00:08:34] Oh, absolutely. And I think it's hard both conceptually, because we're used to sort of this binary model of or your this, or your debt and life simple, and also black and white. And that's part of Western ways of thinking. But it's also had because, hey, we've all got experiences with each other, and the experiences of those population groups that have tended to be more marginalized, in particular, trans and intersex people. But I'd also say by people, because I haven't today, when talking to this conference sofa about biases tend to be marginalized. So where there's been experiences, it's often meant that it's been a token sort of an acronym of inclusion, but people have not had their issues being addressed, they've often come on board and solidarity for issues that not primarily this. HIV is a great example. But when it's about issues that are primarily around gender identity, for example, like identity documentation, then it's sort of a all but that's not really an issue for us. And it's sort of Oh, well, maybe one day, we'll have time, we'll get to your issue. So I guess, the point I was trying to make is, if we are going to use those types of collective acronyms or work collectively, then it is about taking very seriously issues of collaboration and consultation and not just pretending with us nice, harmonious Hola, we're all equal. And we all love each other. Because actually, we appreciate each other too. Because we have a whole very complex of identities and and belongings, [00:10:10] there was a very interesting slide you put up which was just simply a very large him, Well, what looked like a name, can you can you just describe that, [00:10:18] it's hard to describe, because it's such a visual thing. And what I did was I put up an image, what looked initially at least like an image on screen and ask people what they see and people say your name. And then I showed with narrow what perspective that was being seen from, and then I used other arrows to look at that same figure from other perspectives. And this is two dimensional. So it's a bit simplistic, I'd be more fun to do a 3d and ask people what they see. And it actually takes quite a shift of trying to work out what would you see a few sort of move around there. And of course, what people seeing something quite different. If you look from the top, so to say, it'd be seeing a W, the key messages that [00:11:02] where people are positioned, [00:11:04] determines what their experience of reality is, what they're seeing what they're perceiving what their experiences are, what resources are available to them. And we're also used to seeing the world from our position, that it's often quite hard to grasp that there, most people in fact, are standing in a different place to us, because the threads that make up their identities, their lives and their experiences, position them differently to me, and that's their perception of the world will be different. And I need to grasp it basic fact, if I'm actually going to engage with them effectively. And that applies to everybody. [00:11:45] And I very much like that point that you said, we're used to acknowledge that there are other points of view, but you don't necessarily need to understand those points, [00:11:56] or even to agree with them. You know, part of that complexity is that people have very different interests, needs and positions. And I don't have to agree with somebody on every point in order to be are working with them and coalition around our common interests, or out of solidarity around issues that are not primarily mine. But you know, I think often in some of the sort of training, learning and development approaches working around to combat homophobia and transphobia, I think we often don't move past the empathy phase, and empathy as well and coordinates a real skill. But we can always feel empathy, and we certainly can't understand the reality of people necessarily. And that shouldn't be the pre risk requisite to working effectively with them. So what I do need to understand is that there are limits of what I can understand is really the key skill, I guess. [00:12:57] So at this conference, what what is the biggest that that you have to take away from this conference? [00:13:04] I guess a mixture of three things, information and what I'm doing, and sort of building on that growing from that through constructive good conversations, being challenged, being learning new ideas, thoughts, and having my own thinking questioned. And that, and thirdly, networking. I mean, it's just, this conference can't help but be wonderful because there's hundreds of people doing really exciting things that are all in one space. And even if I only get to talk to half a dozen of them, I will have benefited from it. [00:13:40] So flashing forward to like 30 years time when somebody is listening back to those, this is something that you would say to them. [00:13:47] That's a really mean Christian, and this one, nobody will be interested enough to listen back to this. But hopefully, it will be someone [00:13:56] looking back on us and thinking [00:14:00] poor things, life was so much more difficult, then we've moved so much further. And now. It's not a new or exciting thought to be challenging sort of binary simplistic conceptions of identity. Of course, we see that complexity. And of course, we're addressing power and balances. But really nowadays, it's all far more constructive. And you're stating the obvious, I'd like it if they think I'm stating the obvious. [00:14:28] Do you ever think that we could actually go backwards route rather than kind of, you know, being a lot more open? [00:14:36] Far too often. I used to work in a role. And I guess this can go on record, I used to work for the New Zealand government in a row called jail BCI policy. And that was something that was introduced by the Labour Party as their platform. And I don't even remember when so I wasn't the first person in that role. And so there was actually a government position that had the aim of people working across government with expertise in these areas, to assist other officials to work inclusively and take this population group into account and what they were doing because there was an acknowledgement that that wasn't happening satisfactory. We were really confident that that was a secure, stable role. And I left that rolled at the very start of 2009. And soon after, that was just after a change of government, there was a national government came into power. And soon after that role was basically disbanded with no trial or anything, it just [00:15:36] seems to actually work. So [00:15:40] let's, in a way, just a really small thing. [00:15:43] But it was one that shocked me because it wasn't part of a huge massive backswing. But it was a real indication that this is still seen as very much known and very dispensable. So I think, in many, many small ways like that, we're a lot more vulnerable than we think we are and what seen as positive social change, can very easily slip backwards, so I hope [00:16:10] not too far. [00:16:12] And that generally we're making three steps forward and only one backwards but I think we are making lots of backward steps and of course people's vision of where forwards and backwards with various. But in terms of sort of real basics like more equity, more potential for participation or acknowledgement of, of diversity and challenging some of the power imbalances and in inequities. I think that that's much more vulnerable than here in New Zealand. We often like to think

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