Friday, November 28, 2008

Rearranging blog...

I'm in the process of rearranging my blog somewhat and rethinking on what to post, what not etc... which is also the reason it's been quite here for a while, my apologies...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Online Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, 17th of December

Hi everyone!

if you are on facebook...

...then join us and change your profile picture to a Red Umbrella on the 17th of December for the Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers!

For visibility of Sex Worker's movement on this day!

Also if you are on Orkut, Friendster, Hyves, etc.

The Red Umbrella is an international sign of Sex Worker's Rights! for more information go to or

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Highlights at IAC 2008

Firstly, the sex worker delegation made a great appearance. We managed to finally have UNAIDS respond to our continuing demands concerning the UN Guidance note on HIV and Sex Work. Which is a great achievement, we lobbied and worked hard to have meaningful participation of sex workers in re-drafting this guidance note to include the lives and rights of sex workers, but were ignored... until the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network presented the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers with and award for our work on this matter. So now come the process in making sure it's not just saving face for UNAIDS but actual meaningful involvement of sex workers in the process and decisionmaking. (more information and all the documents on this can be found on

Secondly, we accumulated a lot of publicity on the current situation in Cambodia. There a new anti-trafficking law (not very different than the on adopted in South-Korea in 2004) was taken in after pressure from the USA. After this law a giant crackdown on sex workers occurred, they have been arrested and locked up in the same camps used by Khmer Rouge, often withour proper drinking water, food, etc. They're being abused by the police, raped, etc. (if you want more information message me and I will email you some documents). In light of that our statements "Sex work is work", "Save us from our saviors" and "don't talk to me about sewing machines, talk to me about rights" resonated clearly.

Thirdly, My poster presentation "Transgendercide: the Impact of conceptualizing transgenders as men who have sex with men" got specific mention in the final rapporteur session. Also the session that I chaired on Male/Transgender sex workers was the first ever at an International AIDS conference in it's entire history and received good attention. I think we did a great job in stating that transgenders are not gay men (or men who have sex with men), that transgenders are women and have a right to self-determination, that transgender women should have access to women's health resources and that current policies are inadequate as they make transgenders invisible.

We still have a long way to go, but at this conference we did a lot in ensuring people start listening to sex workers and trans people.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Transphobia, Pride and the Police

An open letter to trans organisers and Pride 2008 participants in London

Facebook Group: Stop Transphobia At Pride

"UK: Public Statement on the Incident at the women's toilet at Pride involving a Trans woman" from Pride London forwarded by email on July 8th by Press for Change

Letter to the trans community by Steve Allen (Metropolitan Police) of 11 July, 2008

We were very sorry to hear that Roz Kaveney, a well-known trans activist who has made important contributions to trans organising, was harassed in the middle of the Pride march when trying to use the women's toilet, first by a steward sub-contracted by Pride and then by an LGBT liaison officer.

The two people, both presumably LGB:

· abused Roz by refusing her access to a women's toilet
· demonized her by comparing her to a man who had assaulted a woman (even though, as was later discovered, the victim had actually been trans)
· flagrantly used recent gains in gender citizenship legislation as a weapon against her by demanding a Gender Recognition Certificate
· attempted to criminalize Roz and those who spontaneously came to her support as an unlawful demonstration on private property (and had verbally abused them as a 'trannie mob')
· and threatened detention.

We welcome the debate that this incident has provoked, about the relationship between trans communities, wider LGB communities, and the police.

However, we believe that the debate has remained limited in several respects:
The representation of trans people and their interests.

In the debate, some individuals (particularly those involved in the public and voluntary sectors) appear to have appointed themselves as leaders and representatives of the trans community. We see several problems with this:

· Where do these individuals derive their accountability from?

Both Pride and the police have 'apologised', whilst defending their sub-contractors and officers. As solutions, diversity training (Pride) and a meeting and 'dialogue' (London Met Police) have been offered. As members of the trans community, we would like to know:

Who attended these meetings, and what entitles these individuals to represent 'the trans community'?
Whose interests exactly are being represented? How reflective are they of the trans community, which as we know is very diverse in terms of race, class and immigration status?

Who will carry out this diversity training?
Who will train stewards, and in what will they train them?
Whose trans issues will Pride volunteers and police be sensitized to?

Whose political voices have been heard?

In the debate so far, only the most conforming of trans voices have been heard. The political solutions suggested will likewise benefit mostly those who are already heavily networked up with the corporate LGBT sector and the police, and are regular participants in local government 'consultation and participation' settings.

How will this exacerbate existing divisions and hierarchies in the trans community, and lead to a new class of self-appointed 'community leaders' who claim the right to speak on everyone's behalf?

One trans 'leader' has urged trans people to refrain from writing angry letters to Pride, stating that this will endanger the "recommendations" and "negotiations taking place at the moment". She was uncritical of Pride's decision to report the letter writers to the police.

We want to know:
What are these recommendations?
Who is making them?
What gives her the authority to speak for all trans people?
Whose voices are being sidelined?
Whose interests are being represented?

How will we reflect the full spectrum of views and political responses to this incident, if we are not allowed to voice them?

· What kind of a society are we envisioning?

The strategies that have dominated the debate so far rely upon a citizenship model that reduces trans people to a 'minor/ity'. Do we want to be minors, who receive rights and privileges in return for our obedience and deference to a patriarchal state - which will protect our own best interests, which we cannot define and contest for ourselves? What other visions of society are possible?

2. The relationship between trans people and coercive gender norms

Some of the responses to the incident affirmed dominant gender binaries and hierarchies. For example, one trans organiser commented on Facebook that Roz was able to pass as a woman. In a different forum, a transman highlighted that Roz had had surgery. This would imply that those who resemble non-trans standards of gender most, are the least deserving of abuse. It leaves intact the hierarchy of obedience towards gender norms among transpeople – where rewards are due to those who pass most authentically.

A second example of such hierarchical thinking is on the Trans at Pride website. A butch lesbian, it is argued, would never have been excluded from the women's toilet in the same manner.

· This ignores the routine harassment experienced by gender-nonconforming people, and those who do not choose to pass as (non-trans) men or women.

· It also normalises the idea that binaried gender identity is a justifiable criteria for personhood and citizenship.

3. The relationship between trans people and the state

What is the relationship between transpeople and the state and its monopolies of power? Do we really believe in the myth of police protection?

Historically, the police have been perpetrators of gender violence rather than protectors against it. However, there is an increasing belief among queer and transpeople that the police are part of our community. Besides Pride, trans organisers, too, have invited police into our spaces. The 'Trans Community Conference' was even held in the headquarters of the London Met.

Who or what exactly are the police 'protecting' us from, and what does this 'protection' look like?

What if the police pose a threat themselves – who will protect us then?

Is it a coincidence that the 'LGBT liaison officer' joined in with Roz's abuse, rather than protecting her - and attempted to criminalise her and her supporters?

The shock with which participants in the debate reacted to this shows the success which the police have had in promoting themselves as 'pro-diversity' and 'equal opportunities employer', through such measures as sponsoring Pride and the Trans 'community conference' – or indeed years of expensive advertising campaigns.

If LGBT people are now the major symbols of police diversity, this was not always the case. It was the MacPherson Report into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, and its verdict that the police were 'institutionally racist', which created the need for the police to present themselves as pro-'minority'.

What has changed since then? The 'war on terror' is the new context for diversity politics. While the police are advertising themselves as diverse (largely through LGBT inclusion), police violence overall is again on the rise. If in the 1990s, there was wide-spread opposition to the routine 'stop and search' of non-white people, this is now widely accepted as necessary for 'our protection'.

Queer and trans people are increasingly buying into ideologies of 'terrorism' and 'Muslim homophobia'. [1] The unspoken subtext behind involving police of community events is often that LGBT people (assumed to be white) need 'protection' from Muslim people (assumed to be homophobic and transphobic). At the same time, white, middle-class queer and trans people participate in processes of gentrification, by organising events in brown, working-class communities which are perceived as very different from the queer/trans participants – at times exotic, at others threatening.

What does this mean, on a national and international level?
In consenting to police protection and inviting the police to enter our events, how do we participate in the Security Ideology which is serving to terrorise non-whites and other criminalised groups, such as sex workers? In presenting ourselves as a collective object in need of protection, how are we allowing the state to use us as an excuse to brutalise racial others in Britain and abroad?

Wherever there are people in uniforms there will always be gender violence. This is the case internationally – from the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969 to transphobic and homophobic violence in present-day occupied Iraq (where American soldiers are joining local militia in attacks on gender and sexually non-conforming people). Is it really surprising that the police attack us when we invite them as a mass presence into LGBT spaces?

Finally, not all LGBT people have the same relationship with the police. Some are safer in the presence of police than others, some may actively seek out proximity to the police, while others (such as undocumented transpeople, non-white transpeople and trans sex workers) are targeted by police as criminals.

One example of this was the asylum strand in the 'Trans Community Conference', held at the headquarters of the London Met. The conference, and its venue, were widely celebrated as a step for inclusion, even though it actively excluded transpeople to whom this venue would have been dangerous or inaccessible. However, whose inclusion are we talking about, and what does this inclusion mean? Are we talking about a safer society for transpeople, or about status, funds and positions for the most powerful of transpeople?

In summary, we see an urgent need for a queer and trans politics which:
stays autonomous of the police.

goes beyond tokenism, opportunism and paternalism, and seeks to empower all queer and transpeople rather than a select few.

refuses to be enlisted into racist backlash and imperialist war.

challenges corporate LGBT interests rather than training them to hide their hatred of us behind more 'pc' language as well as meaningless policy acronyms (LGBT-BAME, more of the SAME).

We look forward to hearing allied voices.

Pride and Solidarity,
People's Revolutionary IDeas Eatery

[1] For an example of LGBT racism and imperialism, see issues 706 and 709 of Pink Paper ('Blood and Sand' and 'Ready for War'), which celebrated the gay participation in the war on Afghanistan. Confer also Leslie Feinberg's critique of Peter Tatchell in Workers World: Anti-Iran protest misdirects LGBT struggle, (17 July 2006) and Jasbir Puar's book Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, Durham: Duke University Press (2007).

A recent example of queer and trans Islamophobia is the facebook discussion which followed an incident of transphobic name-calling at the Transfabulous picnic in June 2008. Photos of the incident were published on facebook and commented on in Islamophobic ways, such as:
'Not to make any assumptions, but they are probably Muslims. Why not tell them that Ayatollah Khomeini spoke in favour of transsexuality and that the Iranian state (which they probably will recognise as an Islamic state) pays for operations? (I know the motives and ways they do it are not wonderful but that's not quite the point here. It's just a way to make those kids change their mind and show them how ignorant they are)....'.

Friday, July 4, 2008

South-Korea's beef with the internet

For the last 58 days, every day in South-Korea has been marked by "candlelight vigils". While these vigils were started by highschool and middleschool students to oppose the import of US beef, they have grown to inlcude every demographic in the country and have become a public platform that shouts out not just against American beef, but against many policies presented by Lee Myung Bak and his administration in the Korean Blue House. Privatisation of medical services, Grand Korean Waterway, His authoritarian crackdowns on free speech and his attempts to control the press, these are but several of the issues that lead thousands and thousand every night to demand his resignation on the streets of Seoul. On June 10th, the day of the Korean people ousted the military dictatorships in 1987, almost half a million people gathered in Seoul alone.

While many of his actions worry me, his stand on the internet and press is one that most concerns me. Especially his stand on the internet is problematic, and reflects in many ways the infamous attitudes of the People's Republic of China. Restrictions of free speech were common in Korea before 1988, during military rule, and the press was in firm control of the government. Only twenty years into democracy Lee Myung Bak seems to slowly move back to just that. He appointed several of this close aides, campaign leaders and close political allies in key positions in several broadcasting agencies such as YTN and Arirang TV. KBS is currently under pressure of the governement because it tended to report about the candlelight protests, something which led to protests by citizens in front of their offices. Yet in the age of internet the influence of the press is limited: blogs, internetboards, independent newswebsites, all of those wield ever stronger opinions, something that didn't go unnoticed by the current administration.

Spam mail from anonymous users and the spread of false and inaccurate information is threatening reason and trust on the internet. The internet needs to be a place of trust. The strength of the internet can be poison instead of medicine if people cannot have faith in it.[1] Those are the words of Lee Myung Bak on Jun 17th. The false and inaccurate information relate to the candlelight protests held every night by citizens, at the start of those protests the Supreme Prosecutor General’s Office already announced that it would look into possibilities of prosecuting those "spreading false rumors about US beef".[2] Yet what would the effects be if such procecution is actually carried out? When claiming the importance of such "Freedom of Trust", "Freedom of Speech" has to clear the way in the mindset of the current South-Korean administration.

While not related directly to the internet, the case of MBC "PD Notebook" shows similar attitudes. "PD Notebook" is news program on the MBC that focused on BSE in the US on April 29th. Currently it's under investigations for "spreading false rumors" about US Beef.[3] Yet whether these are true or false, investigation by a prosecution office shows that the investigation itself is a political one. Because if in the end press, internet users and others can be prosecuted for "false rumors" the current three conservative newspapers: JongAng Ilbo, DongA Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo, as well as the governement itself, should be investigated for spreading rumors that might be potentially false. Such arguments are merely a tool to suppress specific news and opinions, because they provide an excuse for investigation... The simple fact that the Lee Myung-Bak's governement is using it says more than anything he has ever said during this entire crisis.


[1]. "Internet free speech to be restricted: Cheong Wa Dae takes steps to decrease negative public online opinion" The Hangyoreh, June 18 2008.

[2]. "Law enforcement officials pledge to prosecute people for ‘mad cow horror stories’: Gov’t appears threatened by spread of information via the Internet and increased number of candlelight protests" The Hangyoreh, May 8 2008.

[3]. "Investigation into MBC program raises questions about press freedoms: Media insiders say MBC report should be handled within the media community, not by the prosecution" The Hangyoreh, June 30 2008.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lee Myung-Bak get out!!!

For those in South-Korea. This saturday!

7 pm protest at gwanghwamun!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

카노스 7주년 기념! 후원파티 come closer에 초대합니다

카노스는 HIV/AIDS감염인 스스로 자신의 권리를 위해 싸우고, 에이즈에 대 한 사회적인 차별과 낙인을 해소하기 위하여 지난 7년간 다양한 활동들을 진행해 왔습니다. 지난 7년간을 돌이켜보면, 참으로 어렵고 힘든 시간들도 많이 있었습니다. 그러나 회원님들의 도움과 많은 단체들의 도움으로 이곳까지 올 수 있었다고 생각됩니다. 회원들의 도움이 없었다면, 결코 해내지 못하는 일이었지요.

카노스가 성장한 모습을 함께 지켜보며, 카노스가 앞으로 나아갈 방향을 함께 고민한 회원님들, 후원회원님들, 연대단체 활동가들과 함께 이번 후원파티를 즐겁게 만들어 가면 좋겠습니다.

일시: 2008년 6월 21일 토요일
장소: 대학로 일석 기념관
문의: 카노스 상담전화 [0505-448-1004]

이번 후원파티는 티켓을 판매예정입니다.
티켓을 구매하시고자 하시는 분들은 방문후에 구매하시거나,
미리 카노스 활동가에게 구매해 주시면 감사하겠습니다.

* 약도는 후원의 밤 일주일 전에 공지하도록 하겠습니다.

Monday, May 5, 2008


This painting was done by 살바도르, a friend of a friend. She based it on me... Made it after seeing un/going home (the docu that will haunt me for the rest of my life) now I don't look literally like this, but I like the stylistic me nonetheless ^^ Looks prettier than me actually I think. Anyways I wrote a poem...

He-Jin 65x53 Oil on canvas

- February 15th, Amsterdam -

I painted my skin
In flowers and patterns
quite literally, actually
giftwrapped myself
... with silver and blood -
drops, drops, drops
Never does it stop
take a turn
roll over
or ever play dead.

A thought came to me
gift-wrapped, not in silver,
bright colors
rainbows made of a thousand scents

I took for granted,
the smell of blood

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gonna shock me some Koreans!

So, counting down, 7 days and I'm on a plane to Korea. Everyone has been asking me what I'm gonna do there, and I can't really answer them. Except that I'm gonna go and shock me some Koreans, kissing queer gals in the subway during rushhour and other assorted things. When I planned this entire moving-to-Korea thing, my plan kinda ended with stepping on that plane there.

But now I know what I actually will be doing the first weekend there! I have a plan stretching at least 5 days after my arrival! I am plan-gal and damn proud about it! Usually I am more making-it-up-along-the-way-gal...

So da plan: Arrive, drop of my baggage at a friends, and meet up with a bunch of gals for this queer women's camp, I guess it's sort of a lesbian MT without actual formal membership. After that... you I guess I'd be back to making it up along the way.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leaving on a jetplane...

"Tomorrow I am leaving on a jet plane and by the time I get to Phoenix love will keep us together, ...'Cause I'm just an embryo, with a long, long way to go, but I know too much to go back and pretend!..."

- Hedwig and the Angry Inch, (1999 stage)

Well I'm not going to phoenix, pretty much in the opposite direction (Seoul), and no loving waiting there as far as I know. At least not the girly boy love, some friendships and some people I care a lot about and truely love, and sex, definitly sex waiting over there. Whatever, I just love that line from Hedwig stage performance, which by the way I like better than the film adaptation.

So... leaving on a jetplane, don't know when I'll be back again, quite literally. I made the step I've been telling everyone for over a year. I've packed up my vagina and I'm gone! (or stole my vagina from Dutch health insurance policy, if you will). Some call me stupid, others call me insane, guess I'm just bold. No idea where I'll live, if I'll have an income, if I'll ever regain my sanity or not end up on the streets forever lost. Well I'm being dramatic, things just seem like it.

Guess I'll figure things out on the run...

Monday, April 21, 2008

IGONG Sex Work film program

상영작품 리스트 (10편)
<코스와스 특별전>

거리 위의 생존자 - 嘜相害 [street survivor]
- 임정걸 林靖傑,진보영상공작팀 向左走影像工作隊 | 21min | 2006
나이 든 아가씨들 : 베일런과 소녀들 - 老查某─白蘭和她們 [Old Chicks : Balian and her girls]
- 채안산 蔡晏珊 | 39min | 2006

추앙받았던 성노동자, 구안의 전기 一代名妓——官秀琴紀念短片 [Memoir of Miss Kuan, A Celebrated Sex Worker]
- 정소탑 鄭小塔(Zita Jeng) | 25min | 2007
구원의 초 [Our Life-Saving Vinegar]
- 정소탑 鄭小塔(Zita Jeng) | 25min | 2007

밤의 요정들의 이야기 [Tales Of The Night Fairies]

<한국의 성노동 담론전>
꽃파는 할머니 박성미 | 1999 | 42분 | 다큐멘터리 | 제4회 인권영화제 상영
세라진 김성숙 | 2004 | 21분 | 극영화 | 서울독립영화제2004 본선경쟁작
마마상 조혜영, 김일란 | 2005 | 65분 | 다큐멘터리 | 서울여성영화제 여성신문상 수상
언고잉 홈 [Un/going home] 김영란|2007|34분 23초 | 다큐멘터리|인디포럼2007 개막작
언니 계윤경 | 2007 | 90분 | 다큐멘터리 | 인디다큐페스티벌 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rant against Fitna

I recently saw Fitna, the highly debated and criticized film by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, and it made me sick. There is no constructive argument whatsoever, just one message: Islam = Evil. It's a dangerous 15 minute insult to both religious freedom and freedom of speech. Quoting Geert Wilders "I don't oppose Muslims just Islam ideology", what the f*ck??!! Maybe on of his great, charismatic one-liners that make him the politician he is, but this is even beyond stupid for him and that is saying something.

The Qur’an is no more evil than the bible is, or any other holy book. They all have things in them that should be interpreted in a historical context, and they have old traditions in them that should be discarded or changed. That's just that, traditions change, which is a process that happens all the time often unnoticed by most. And discriminating traditions should change, words in the Qur’an and the bible shouldn't be taken seriously. I mean I can find a fair amount of sexist and violence inciting quotes from the bible that are very similar, but hey... historical context! Interpret the text, don't rip sentences out there to re-brand to serve your own ideas. Those books aren't written for that.

I oppose religious extremism and violence, as I oppose any form of violence. But to equate and ideology with violence? or to start lecturing Muslims on having the tear pages from the Qur’an while the bible still stands intact? After insulting them? Wilders is crossing a line here, one of common sense among others.

He did do cause something that I thought would never happen, it made me agree with Jan Peter Balkenende, current Prime Minister of the Netherlands (unfortunately...). I never hide my dislike of him and his damn moralistic politics but his comments on Fitna: "The film equates Islam with violence. We reject this interpretation. The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence. In fact, the victims are often also Muslims... ...We therefore regret that Mr. Wilders has released this film. We believe it serves no purpose other than to cause offence." mark the first time that I will admit agreeing with him.

From my point of view Geert Wilders poses a much bigger threat to the Netherlands than the Qur’an ever will. Rant over.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Okay... Little death-wishy stuff. I'm not the suicidal type but I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer for hours the night that I wrote this and I was feeling a bit Joss Whedony. So this is just a blue rant poem, I like it. Hope you do too but don't take the words for the meaning imbued. I so am not making sense...

- March 19th, Amsterdam -

An angel, silently she came
there was light, and dark
and singing

An angel,
pushed on my thighs, wet and unused
sat and held me down
upon the bed I screamed
but words, choked, left me
an angel, clawing
and hissing

The mirror, she stared at me
I turned away, my eyes would burn

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My windowsill...

A birthday present for Orin... ^^

- Februari 22nd, 2008 Amsterdam -

Thinking of someday I fell asleep,
sitting on my windowsill.
Tomorrow rushed ahead
and I couldn't even catch up with yesterday.

I don't hear voices
or names, I see the sounds
in gold and silver linings.

I remembered years ahead
some vague phrase,
uttered, incomprehensible
but filled with love,
or a flower,

Monday, January 28, 2008

Going home...

This poem is an old one, and I feel one of the better ones I wrote. Not so much because it is written well, but because it feels like me, it is me. It shows the feelings I am product of, and the arc in my life. If the poem sounds bit depressing, it isn't, especially the last lines can be interpreted very positively...

- November 12th, 2004 Amsterdam -

Three days, just one night
Took a train into my soul
No Idea what I would find
Three nights and I'm gone

A home in my head
I wish I could find
The way through hell
Then I'll never look back

Three nights, just one day
I stared into my soul
Missed the train
I'm going back home