By Amanda Geenen
Today marked the halfway point of our study session. Time flies when you’re having fun (and learning an enormous number of new things in the process). The first topic of the day was a tricky one: law. After a briefing on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), we learned how to apply the irrevocable and inalienable rights contained in this convention to the situation of intersex children. In small groups, we designed campaigns that focused on a number of rights guaranteed by the UNCRC, such as privacy, bodily integrity, and education. The campaigns were all very ambitious, and targeted not only at intersex individuals but also educators, parents, and the medical community. Hopefully, better dialogue among these groups will help forward intersex children’s rights. The next few years will likely see very interesting legal developments in this area – who will be the next Malta?*
After all this legalese and a well-deserved coffee break, our group was split into two sections. In the first group, of intersex participants explored how they could collaborate more with one another and the possibility of developing an international intersex youth network. Meanwhile, the rest of the participants learned how to be good allies to the intersex community. Key insight of this session: even though LGBTQ organisations may mean well, some of their actions could be seen as tokenism** or appropriation*** and upset intersex persons. With this warning fresh in mind, we then applied a SWOT-analysis to our own organizations to see how a more intersex-inclusive environment can be realized. Perhaps most useful was our next discussion – an exchange of national best practice and common challenges. There seems to be a growing willingness to engage with intersex activists Europe-wide. On a practical level, identifying such persons is not always easy, but several initiatives were discussed that could help.
After two-and-half informative yet intense days, the afternoon allowed everyone to unwind during a series of workshops organized by the prep staff. At least, that is what we were told… ‘’Yes, and then you can kick your attacker in the shin. Or use your keys!’’, one of our lovely workshop leaders exclaimed as the move was gleefully demonstrated on one not-so-voluntary volunteer. Sadly, a lot of queer, trans, non-binary, and intersex persons are subjected to physical violence even in the most ‘’accepting’’ parts of Europe. The taster on self-defence showed the participants how to react in such a dangerous situation, or better, how to avoid it. Leaving my sweaty friends behind, I made my way to the crafts room, where true masterpieces were being created. The ‘craftivism creations’ proves that our activists are also excellent finger-painters and will be on display for the rest of the week.
As for the second round of workshops, I spent a blissful 1.5 hours listening to Dani’s the yoga instructor’s soothing voice and attempting not to trip over my own feet. While I was doing downward dogs and the like, Dominic Joyce shared his knowledge on film-making in preparation of this evening’s interviews and elsewhere a few persons pretended they were animals and yelled at each other which was apparently very hilarious and made total sense. As another eventful day comes to an end, it is nice to see how people are getting closer to each other. Networks are being forged, anonymous compliments are being exchanged, and spirits are high. Let’s see what the next two days will bring!