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Swakshadip Sarkar

Swakshadip Sarkar presents at the Rainbow Studies Now symposium, held on 23 November 2023 at Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington.

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The presentation provides an examination of the experiences of transgender asylum seekers in New Zealand. Sarkar focuses on experiences during and after the asylum-seeking process, particularly in relation to healthcare, education, housing, employment, and other institutions.

Sarkar's research reveals significant insights into the asylum-seeking process for transgender individuals. The primary reason many transgender people seek asylum in New Zealand is to escape persecution in their home countries due to repressive laws. However, New Zealand receives fewer such asylum seekers compared to European nations or North America. The research methodology includes case law analysis and interviews with advocacy groups and asylum seekers themselves. Sarkar notes a challenge in their research due to limited public availability of relevant cases and a lack of specific data on transgender asylum seekers in New Zealand.

The presentation identifies three major themes: country of origin information, a genuine link to Aotearoa New Zealand, and the need for gender-affirming services. Country of origin information plays a crucial role in asylum claims, but New Zealand lacks a concrete system for determining this, often relying on the applicant to provide evidence of persecution. Cases from various nationalities, including Thai, Chinese, Indian, Samoan, Fijian, South African, and British nationals, demonstrate the inadequacy and inconsistency in assessing such information.

The second theme, a genuine link to Aotearoa, highlights the importance of establishing a connection to New Zealand in the refugee status determination process. Relationships with partners, friends, and family in New Zealand are key factors, with stronger ties in the home country often complicating asylum claims. The evaluation of these claims sometimes reflects westernized notions of individuality and identity.

Lastly, the need for gender-affirming services is emphasized. Access to transitioning procedures, including hormone therapy and surgeries, is crucial for many transgender asylum seekers. The study reveals a discrepancy in how these needs are evaluated, with some countries like the USA giving significant weight to the desire for transition procedures in asylum claims, while New Zealand does not consistently recognize this as a primary reason for seeking asylum.

In conclusion, Sarkar's study highlights the complexities and challenges faced by transgender asylum seekers in New Zealand. It underscores the need for greater awareness and understanding of transgender rights and healthcare access in the asylum-seeking process.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:23rd November 2023
Location:Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (reference number to be confirmed).