No More Lip Service: What does this moment mean to you? Amitava Sarkar, India

Tell us a little about your organization and the work you do?

My name is Amitava Sarkar, and I am Co-Chair, IRGT and also working at India HIV/AIDS Alliance. I am associated with trans activism for more than 15 years at national and global level. My work mainly focusses into capacity building of transgender individuals/organisations and also promoting trans advocacy related initiatives at national and global level.

Why is the Trans Pre-Conference exciting to you?

This reminds me 2008, when I attended International AIDS Conference in Mexico and along with my close friend and colleague, Joanne Keatley, I observed very limited number of participation from trans community in the same conference. Joanne and I felt very depressed and decided to take the movement from there for larger advocacy in terms of ensuring trans participation at every level of such an important international platform. Thus resulted IRGT, A Global Network of Trans Women and HIV. Throughout the years, we have grown up and currently with 18 members from different parts of the globe, we are about to create a history of organising first trans pre-conference before the International AIDS Conference.

What is important about this moment in global trans advocacy and activism?

Transgender people received their legal recognitions in various parts of the globe, still they are suffering due to lack of quality health services including HIV/AIDS, livelihood issues and violence. Building capacity of trans community and advocacy for trans issues at every sector is very much important to change this current scenario.

What changes do you want to see in your local community and the global trans community after the Pre-Conference?

Every time I attend International AIDS Conference, it helps me updating myself in terms of learning from best practices from different regions also helps to expand my network in terms of promoting trans advocacy at local and global level. This time we have made a history by organising trans pre conference for the first time, so my community will learn more about the struggles and the kinds of work we are involved into, from each other. This will help to strengthen trans advocacy at different regions. Last but not least, I will like to thank my friend and colleague Joanne Keatley, members of IRGT, my colleagues at India HIV/AIDS Alliance and MSMGF for supporting this entire process. And a big cheers to all my trans sisters.. together we can make it.. this is just a beginning.. love you all..

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