FREE PATHH wants to provide an alternative to the WPATH! We are organising a free, one-day event on the 18th of June 2016 in Amsterdam about transgender healthcare and human rights. At FREE PATHH, the majority of the professionals are transgender,since there are many highly qualified professionals who can also speak to the experience of being trans. The event will consist of lectures, debates, workshops, etcetera. At night, TranScreen, the transgender film festival, will organise a relevant movie screening.
FREE PATHH is one of the first openly accessible events explicitly focusing on transgender-related healthcare and human rights. Compared to other fields of healthcare, transgender healthcare in the Netherlands is often inadequate or out of touch with the wishes of the people it serves. However, there is relatively little awareness among Dutch transgender people that trans healthcare can and should be improved. During FREE PATHH, participants can gather information about alternative models and possibilities, learn from the experiences of other care-seekers, and discuss what, in their opinion, constitutes "high-quality transgender healthcare". Autonomy and transgender people’s right to self-determination are among the core principles of FREE PATHH.
We will record and/or write down as much as possible of the discussions and events taking place during FREE PATHH. This way, we can make all information available online for professionals, trans* activists, and other interested parties.
FREE PATHH will be free to attend. This is a fundamental and political choice, in order to show that a symposium does not have to cost hundreds of euro. A free event such as FREE PATHH can equally offer an interesting day full of quality content.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the international organisation for professionals working in transgender healthcare, is hosting their biannual symposium from the 17th until the 21st of June 2016 in Amsterdam. Among other things, the WPATH is responsible for the international Standards of Care for transgender healthcare and promotes and provides advocacy in a range of situations.
For many Dutch transgender people, this symposium would be a unique chance to get in touch with international professionals, learn about the latest developments in the field, and be visibly present. Sadly, this is impossible for most transgender people due to financial reasons. WPATH attendance fees vary from around 300 euros (for students) to almost 1,000 euros per ticket.
The few transgender people who can afford to attend this important symposium, are exceptions. Some can attend because they have professional commitments to attend to at the symposium and/or have been able to arrange sponsorship though work. Others are able to attend because they have sufficient personal financial means to pay out of pocket. However, it is a well-known fact that the financial position of many transgender people in the Netherlands is precarious. (As reported by, among others, the SCP and CBS.)
The Dutch Host Committee has made a great effort to approach various transgender people with the offer of an opportunity to volunteer at the symposium. The "compensation" is free admission for the day(s) you are volunteering. While a commendable effort to allow transgender people to participate in the symposium for free through volunteer work, this type of participation is not "full participation” as it should be. Each volunteer has tasks to attend to on the day(s) they gain free entrance to the symposium, and is therefore occupied. In addition, no volunteer can participate with total freedom, due to their ties with the organisation.
About Us, But Without Us
The consequence is that (once again) transgender care and rights will be the topic of discussion, but not with equal input from transgender people. Once more, crucial decisions regarding our care and our rights will be made by doctors, surgeons, psychologists, counsellors, therapists, speech therapists, etcetera. Even though a sizeable proportion of these "professionals", operating in countries all over the world, repeatedly violate the dignity and human rights of transgender people while providing this care!
Transgender people worldwide have little to no say when it comes to their own healthcare needs and provision, neither on an individual level, nor on the level of policy. The Netherlands is no exception in this. It is for this reason, among many others, that we invite all people working in transgender care to come visit us (for free!) at FREE PATHH.