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Viviane Namaste, Sydney Tour, 2008

"HIV education and transsexuals in Canada and Québec" Viviane Namaste Monday Oct 20, 6:30-9, Sydney Mechanics School of the Arts, 280 Pitt St, CITY

Sex workers at Vivianes talk (Viviane is in the middle!)

This talk offered an historical overview of HIV education for transsexuals in Québec and Canada, considering different populations (prostitutes, drug users, prisoners, middle-class transsexuals) as well as different cities. The presentation screened excerpts from Madame Lauraine's Transsexual Touch!, an HIV education video directed at the clients of transsexual and transvestite prostitutes, and produced by transsexual community members engaged in HIV education and sex work activism.

The talk was organised with the support of (from left to right) Raewin Connell at the University of Sydney, Janelle Fawkes at Scarlet Alliance, (Viviane Namaste in the middle), Maria McMahon at ACON, Vek Lewis at the University of Sydney, Jo Holden at SWOP, and The Gender Centre (not pictured))

Elena Jeffreys interviews Viviane Namaste for CHERRIE Magazine

“There would be no community services for trans people [in Canada] were it not for the labour of transsexual prostitutes,” Viviane tells CHERRIE. However the current Canadian trans movement is trying to distance itself from the issue of sex work.

Similarities could be drawn in Australian, with individuals such as Roberta Perkins not as openly recognised for their work as perhaps would have been predicted 15 or 20 years ago. I ask Viviane if this is a global trend among western trans activism.

“If we look at the history of transsexual communities around the world, we find that prostitutes have taken a lead role in organising services, community support, and political mobilisation,’ Viviane says. “I don’t hear too much of this history, or these people, when we talk about trans issues in the English-language mainstream media. This also means that the political priorities shift: activists from the middle class are heavily invested in matters of human rights, but less often active on the regulation of public space, the criminalisation of prostitution, or access to methadone in prisons for transsexual inmates.” Link to full story, SX

Viviane Namaste and Vek Lewis

Bio --

Viviane Namaste is an Associate Professor at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University. She is the author of three books: Sex Change, Social Change: Reflections on Identity, Institutions and Imperialism (Toronto: Women's Press, 2005), C'était du spectacle! L'histoire des artistes transsexuelles à Montréal, 1955-1985 (Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005), Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). In the mid-1990s, she worked to establish community-based health services for transsexuals in Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal. She is active doing activism, research and policy work in relation to the criminalization of prostitution, HIV, prisons, harm reduction, and refugee issues.