Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Visit to Dhaka and Chittagong, Bangladesh - 10 to 23 Jan 2009


Attending the Psychodrama, sociodrama workshops led by Herb Propper, Ph D., TEP., Director Celebrations of the Soul. USA.

Our founder Magdalene Jeyarathnam is attending a series of workshops held at various places including the Dhaka University and the Chittagong University. These workshops are organised by the Bangladesh Therapeutic Theatre Institute(BTTI). 

The titles of the workshops are 
  1. Psychodrama and sociometry: Healing for trauma and substance abuse
  2. Sociodrama, social networks and living newspaper
  3. Introduction to psychodrama and sociometry: healing emotional difficulties
  4. Introduction to sociodrama and sociometry:psychosocial care and empowering disadvantaged people

Discussion about the Peer Counselling Training and Group sessions - Jan 5 2009

We (Shakti Center and Center for Counselling) had another meeting Jan 5, 2009 on collecting information, making a simple videos using handy-cam to record different reasons what one needs to know about the Sexual Reassignment Surgery. We seem to be having impressive turn outs for our meetings. 

Notes of the meeting from Anirudd - Shakti Center

Minutes of the Peer-Counselling Steering Committee meeting held on 5 January 2008 

People Present:

Magdalene Jeyaratnam - Center for Counselling

Sankari - Center for Counselling

Padma - The Shakti Center

Srivath - Group Session Participant

Teja - Group Session Participant

Praveen - SIAAP (AIF fellow)

Priyababu - SIDA Foundation

Dhanam - SIPTF

Shiva - Sangama

Mohan K - Rainbow Charitable Trust

Venkat Kumar - Rainbow Charitable Trust

Aniruddhan Vasudevan - The Shakti Center

It was a short session to follow up on the little amount of work done after the previous meeting (of 16 December 2008) vis-à-vis the subject of Sex Reassignment Surgery.

Some resources were procured: the Harry Benjamin Guidelines, information on Transgender health from Fenway, Boston, Dr. Marci Bowers' webpage on "genital reassignment surgery" etc. The links were sent to the members on the list by email. (Please let me know if you have not received the same).

Dr. Jyotsna Murthy in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Ramachandra Medical College, Hospital, seems to be a person we must meet. She has performed/ overseen the hospital's first full SRS procedure (as opposed to emasculation alone) for Lakshya.

NIMHANS, Bangalore, does not seem have a formal protocol or counseling-related criteria for people going for SRS, besides the diagnosis of "gender dysphoria." We should talk further about this with Dr. Shekar Seshadri in the Department of Psychiatry at NIMHANS.

Dr. Venkatesh Chakrapani is back in the country. He has done a lot of work with transgender women and MSM. His knowledge and expertise might be crucial in our moving forward faster.

So those are three people whom we need to talk to soon!

Immediate work:

To start with, it was decided that we must extract sections from the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care and translate them into Tamil so that everyone here has some idea about what they are. So, people volunteered to read and extract sections and meet to consolidate that work.

This reading-and-culling group will meet on Saturday, 10 January 2009, at 10 am at the Center for Counselling. The volunteers for this are: Magdalene, Sankari, Shiva, Dhanam, Kalki, Srivath, Teja and Aniruddh. But other enthusiastic souls are welcome to join us!

Following that a timetable was drawn for the subsequent meetings of the committee as well as the group therapy sessions. Padma sent this as a separate mail marked "Save this Email." So please save it! I copy it here again: 

Saturday, January 10th, 10:00 AM: Reading-and-culling session on SRS documents
Monday, February 2nd, 3:00-4:00 PM: Peer counseling steering committee session
Monday, February 23, 3:00-5:00 PM: Peer counseling steering committee meeting: project assessment 

We are planning to run group sessions on the following dates:

English group - Timing 6PM to 7.30 PM - Fridays
Jan 31
Feb 7, 14, 21, 28 
Mar 7, 14, 21

Tamil group - Timing 4 PM to 5.30 PM - Wednesdays
Jan 28
Feb 4, 11, 18, 25
Mar 4, 11, 18

Human Rights Commission in South Asia for the rights of Sexual minorities

Mrs Jayarathnam posing for a photo with Rose, our first Television Transgender anchor, Rose. She hosts a television show called "Ippadiku Rose" translated as "yours truly Rose"

Check out this link:




Center for Counselling hosted a planning meeting on South Asia Human Rights Commission for the sexual minority groups in these countries.

Brief Notes by Praveen Basaviah about this meeting until we get the official report from Manohar in Bangalore.

LGBTQ is for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer.

Planning Meeting:

Should a South Asian LGBTQ Human Rights Commission(HRC) be created?  If so, why and how?

January 5, 2008

Location: Center for Counselling

1)   Do we need it?

2)   Who should represent on it?

3)   What should be structure, activities?

4)   Follow up discussion?


Original meeting where this idea came up was in Nepal.

There are meetings being held in Delhi, Bangalore this week, too.

One arivani (transgender -TG) says that HRC is needed because straight folks filing complaints to police are listened to and treated fine, but LGBTQ folks aren’t listened to and are mistreated by police.  With the increase in advocacy work out there and sensitization work among police re: TGs, TGs have a bit more confidence/ability to stand up for their rights when police are mistreating them/ignoring them.

Padma: A central body is needed because LGBTQ rights work is, in her observations, taken up adhoc by different orgs or individuals, so it’s sporadic and unorganized.  A central body like an HRC, in a major way, can DOCUMENT human rights violations and serve as a source for such information for others (receptacle of documentation; library of sorts…)

There is a specific way in which a human rights violation report needs to be written.   The movement (and hrc) builds up credibility over time with documented proof.

HRC will balance out the large degree to which lgbtq is primarily associated with hiv/aids. 

The HRC can mobilize resources to work towards RIGHTS.

NGOs are tired and bogged down and need a push/inspiration for specifically RIGHTS work.

A long term goal for the hrc should be thinking about how to fund things like publicity/lawyers/etc and provide resources to the defense of LGBTQ people when something happens to them that violates their rights.

Hrc could also serve as a body that helps properly funnel funds to different orgs/people/cases from different sources that have money but don’t know where or how to give it.

The hrc is regionally/nationally focused; it’s not really for the local/city, state issues.

Proposal to not use “LGBTQ…” in the name of the hrc.  Use something more general

This hrc is specifically for sexual minorities (people), not the general issues of gender and sexuality.

There is a need for hrc because other orgs, like iglhrc, don’t do much documentation. Plus, issues and incidents that are local to India aren’t well understood and given justice when written about or discussed.  A regional/subcontinental body would better understand.

Next steps:

Can Manohar send us minutes from initial Nepal meeting?

The four India committee members haven’t yet decided what the process will be to choose which two people will represent India at the next multi-national planning meeting in Nepal.

Minutes from today’s mtg will be sent out.

Question regarding hrc structure/activities will happen at next meeting and will be an ongoing process.


Thank you Praveen for the notes.