Category Archives: Rfsl

Borde arbetet framöver nu handla om kärlek till alla – även transpersoner?

Jag engagerade mig som aktivist för transpersoners rättigheter i anslutning till min egen komma-ut-process. Det här var sent 1990-tal och HBT-begreppet fanns inte riktigt än. Jag tror att det av naturliga skäl blev fokus på att överhuvudtaget berätta vilka vi transpersoner var och såklart samtidigt komma fram till vem jag var. En transsexuell kvinna som råkade vara lesbisk – nästan som en eftertanke liksom. Nya begrepp formades och vi samlade erfarenheter som vi försökte packa ihop något som gick att presentera som förslag till politiska, juridiska och administrativa förändringar i samhället. Förändringar som faktiskt mest handlade om att “få vara”, bli respekterad och förhoppningsvis accepterad. En kamp som dels handlade om transpersoners (dvs. könsidentitetens) plats i det så som då var homorörelsen i praktiken och dels en kamp för att transpersoners rättigheter överhuvudtaget skulle betraktas som seriösa frågor (vilket det oftast inte gjorde – endast några fåtal politiker var då villiga att ta upp dem). Det blev viktigt att skilja på sexuell läggning och könsidentitet och könsuttryck och att i tal och uttalanden få med något annat än att “rätten att älska vem man vill oavsett kön”. För mig så blev nog både min egen process och den politiska rörelse som jag var en del av ganska avsexualiserad. Fokuset låg på mer grundläggande rättigheter i samhället som i princip gjorde det svårt att överhuvudtaget vara transperson utan att hela tiden slåss mot samhällets administrativa och juridiska rutiner.

När jag läste Aleksa Lundbergs upprop (länk till inlägget på Facebook) om vikten av att de som har förhållanden, älskat eller varit förälskad i en transperson vågar synas blev jag tagen och såg vår kamp för rättigheter lite mer klarsynt. Kärlek och sex har en sån naturlig roll i HBT-rörelsen i stort och mycket handlar om att stärka homo- och bisexuella så att de också får tillgång till något så centralt i livet som heterosexuella ofta tar för självklart. Jag insåg att jag som aktivist och föreläsare då knappt pratade om det. Själv har jag reflekterat att det sannolikt kommer vara en “issue” och en “process” för den som blir kär i mig att jag är transsexuell. Dels för hennes identitet och dels de fördomar som hon som partner riskerar att utsättas för både i samhället i stort men inte minst av andra homo- och bisexuella cispersoner. Jag inser att vi inte bara behöver transpersoner som kan agera förebild utan också partners till transpersoner som kan vara detsamma. En förebild för möjligheten och rätten till kärlek även för transpersoner.

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Italian food with a wonderful woman

I have not even had much chance to get my breath after the big exercise but the RFSL annual convention is just around the corner and we are busy prepping all the technology. However, I managed to get some hours free to go see A again, a wonderful woman that entered my life a couple of months ago. We decided to meet downtown and I wondered what I should wear. We both love the business look and preferably with heels so I decided to dress up a bit. So wore my Shirt factory blouse, a dark grey skirt with faint stripes and my low elegant black heels. It turned out to be a good choice because I think I matched A quite good since she had heeled boots and a a nice outfit in purple 🙂 It was a while since I had dressed up that much and it felt great! We took a walk downtown and I had a lot to talk about as usual. Felt good to see her again – I really like her company.

After a while we ended up at a nice Italian restaurant and we had some delicious pasta. We both have experiences of how our looks can make us feel insecure which is so good since we can actually relate to these feelings but from somewhat different perspectives. She is a really cute girl but still that is something that not always mean that you feel beautiful. The same goes for me. I know that I look ok and that some people think I am rather cute as well but that does not mean that I dare to believe that in all situations. Before we said goodbye to each other see visited the RFSL office and I had the chance to show her our meeting management system. She is after all an IT-professional working with systems architecture and I think she thought it was interesting to see it. I also made her a member of RFSL which is really great 🙂

Speaking at a seminar in the Swedish Parliament

Today, I was one of the speakers at a seminar about transgender issues at the Swedish Parliament. The seminar was organized by us in RFSL after a initiative from two Members of Parliament from the Swedish Conservative Party called Anna König-Jerlmyr och Anna Bergkvist. They have been engaged in this issue before and have taken part in seminars during Stockholm Pride as well as submitting a motion to the Parliament

We had put together a really good mix of people to give the attendees a broad overview of the legal issues for transgender people in general and transsexual and intersexual people in particular. The hard part of all this is that these should not be difficult political issues because the changes to current regulations that we demand seem very logical when all the facts and the actual consequences of current law becomes visible. However, my experience is that it takes some effort to move people over their own threshold in order to make them see that.

However, some of these things seem to be rooted deeply in some kind of public knowledge that usually are neither discussed nor questioned. Take the notion of establishing the biological sex of someone for instance. Most people think that is easy but the truth is that there are a large number of medical indicators of this and medical professionals can not single out one as more important than the other. People have different sets of genes, chromosomes and variations of the body that most of the time is neither known nor visible. That means that biological sex is not that bipolar as you might think. Having that in mind makes the notion of sex change come into new light and makes it even easier to understand that in many senses it isn’t not a sex change, merely a correction of the body since there are so many variations in reality.

The absolute worst part of all of this is that the proposal for a new law have moved from requiring sterilization to castration in order to get your new legal status as man/woman approved. So you might think, isn’t that something that you people want? Well, a lot of people do (but not all!) but more importantly; is it really consistent with human rights to require such a thing in law to allow an administrative change? The last time we did things like forced castration this was 50 years ago when race hygiene still was on the agenda…

Well, I started by giving an overview of LGBT and transgender issues. After that a psychiatrist called Ola Broström from the transgender clinic at Karolinska Hospital gave a talk about how the transsexual transition processes are handled. After that, Alex Grönkvist talked about castration from a medical and historical perspective followed by Jenny Ottosson from the Swedish Intersexual Organisation called INIS. She explained intersexuality and the terrible consequences the law proposal has for that group. We continued by having Conny Öhman, lawyer and member of the RFSL Federation Board, talking about the transgender group from a legal perspective. There are many laws with “interesting” consequences for the group. We ended by having a summary and discussion in the end.

I was very pleased with what we all accomplished and people in general seemed to think it was interesting. Hopefully we have inspired to some political action to make sure that the new law actually makes life simpler for a group of people that already have a difficult situation in life. We definitely should not have to fight against laws and regulations as well.


I just discovered that Member of Parliament Olof Lavesson (m) also has written about the seminar and his reflections that something needs to be done to change vital components of this law proposal.

Censorship in action

Censorship in Turkey

Just remembered that when I was surfing around and checking my usual websites at the hotel in Ankara I suddenly got a white screen with an information that content have been blocked. Interestingly it was when I was checking the blog written by Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt. It turned out that the as a whole is blocked in Turkey. That is a significant number of web sites…

There is some more information – and being a blog – discussion about this here at the WordPress site

More on transgender issues in Turkey

We met a turkish transgender person at the office of KAOS-GL who was about to give a speech later on in the afternoon about the situation for sex workers and transgendered people in Turkey. Coming from Sweden where at least transsexuals are relatively well taken care of in the health care system and also from a legal and administrative point it is really difficult to comprehend the situation in Turkey and many other countries. I know about my own issues with my body and it must awful to be forced to use that situation as the only way to earn your living. People paying money to have sex with you just because your are something strange “in-between”. Everything that transsexuals in Sweden try avoid at all costs,

Apparently it is difficult to find someplace to live as well since there have been cases where construction firms pays thugs money to keep watch in areas where transgender people live. They sit and wait in cars all day long to get a chance to harass and assault them to force them to move from the area. The transgender people, neighbours and the police knows about this but nobody does anything to stop it. However, there seem to be a court case coming up real soon where an attacker actually is charged for beating a transgender person. Hopefully that can be a start to something new. Many people are seriously hurt each year and quite a few are even killed. It seem to be worse for transgender people and butch lesbians because they always face the risk of rape from even the police. There are also examples of police and the military conducting rape on gay men just to see if they like it. Apparently only the passive part is considered a homosexual in Turkey as it is in other countries.

From an education standpoint it must also be tough to inform people about transgender issues since it is so closely related to sex workers and prostitution. I think it is already hard enough to inform here in Sweden when the knowledge in general is not widespread about transgender issues. Being forced to also bring up the debate around prostitution would make it so much more difficult let alone the attitude towards people generally being seen on the lower steps of the community ladder.

I am so grateful living in Sweden where I have my wonderful friends, great doctors in the health care system and really nice co-workers in the Armed Forces that make me look forward to go to work each day.

Hard being a transsexual in Turkey

It seems really hard to be a transgendered in general and transsexual in particular here in Turkey. Last night our wonderful host told us about a gay club here in Ankara where transgendered people were not allowed. It was really surprised since I would have easier to understand if transgendered are not allowed in men or women-only clubs. That was the case in Sweden ten years ago but fortunately that has changed now. However, it turned out that the situation here in Turkey means that it is virtually impossible for transsexuals to get employed even if they have a university degree. Instead they are forced to work as sex workers. So this club just had a policy of not wanting sex workers to sell their services in the club and therefore denying them access. There is also a big problem of transgendered people being harrassed and beaten since some people think they have a right to kill them.

Read a little bit more about this transgendered organisation called Pink Life here in Ankara.

LGBT-work mentioned in Turkish media

Today we learned that there is an article in the newspaper Hürriyet about this media training workshop and that RFSL is participating. In a news portal there is another article that even mentions me 🙂

However, we also learned that because of this media coverage several people decided not to take part in the workshop because they were worried about the attention.

In Ankara

Arrived in Ankara, Turkey tonight after passing through the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul on our way here. We are staying at the Ankara Gold Hotel and I have got a fairly big room with one huge bed and one smaller one. I checked the TV and found CNN on channel 33 and that together with the free internet connection made me feel comfortable right away. I watch CNN a lot nowadays and think their coverage of the US Election is great. I think one of the reasons why I like CNN is that it reminds me of the vactions I had as small kid when we used my father’s bonus points to stay at nice hotels when travelling by car around Sweden and Europe. At a time when we only had SVT1 and SVT2 at home it was so exciting to check out the channels at the hotels. I have always been interested in politics and think I was a news junkie even back then. So CNN was on a lot of the time. And the signature sound of CNN together with the announcer saying “You are watching CNN International” became a sound connected to exciting vacations. I can actually still get some goose-bumps when hearing that 🙂 Strange but true. I like dramatic and powerful intros. Now I must finish up the preparation of my lecture tomorrow which deals with the way journalism for LGBT-people is affected by the development of the internet.

Custom content model in Alfresco 2.9C

Hmm…I guess I am supposed to working on the movie project. However, during Christmas I had the usual technical discussions with my brother and I got all excited about Enterprise Content Management again. I decided to show him some new features in Alfresco 2.9 Community edition (still in development though). Since I don’t work full time configuring *nix-systems I tend to forget some of the things and got some help from him. After that I was all inspired to try to set up a demo system for the NGO RFSL that I am working for. I believe that almost every organisation need some improvements in information management and RFSL is of course no difference.

We rely heavily on email and their is a file server that some uses. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have central repository where we can store all our content in a smarter way. That includes support for metadata, versioning, permission, language versions and workflow for our most common tasks.

So I decided to dive into Alfresco once more and not just try to master configuration on Mac OS X Server but also doing real customizations on the content model and the user interface.

I first started reading the excellent guide provided by the people at ECM Architect which gave me a good start. However, rather soon I discovered that some of the stuff that I previously done in Documentum Application Builder (DAB) was not covered. So I had to resort to the Alfresco wiki and their forums to find the answers.

Unlike using DAB development for Alfresco is done by editing XML-files that resides in /tomcat/shared/classes/alfresco/extension where both the content model files resides, the configuration to the web client and finally a text file with mappings between attributes and the text that should be visible in the labels.

When all these things have been edited and saved the next thing is to restart Alfresco’s tomcat server and keep a close look at the alfresco.log file where all potential error are shown. It usually ends up being a Java trace segment but often with references to line numbers so it is a bit easier to find the errors.

What I was trying to achieve was the same things that I have done in Documentum a month ago. Creating a content model with one base type which I can then inherit attributes from. However, finding the proper structure of that is not easy. My first idea was to have a “rfsl:doc”-type as the base one and then inherit “rfsl:video” and “rfsl:audio” from them. However, since aspects provide a really good and flexible way of handling attributes it is not easy to decide which attributes that should be in the type and which should be in the aspect. It is also important to bear in mind that having content types for like presentations (which could be in both PowerPoint, PDF, Impress and Keynote-format) is one way of creating easy filtering of content. That means having a “rfsl:pres” type but if that will have more or less exactly the same attributes as “rfsl:doc” it boils down to just a filtering issue and the question is if it is worth it. Will users understand how to select which content type to use?

Another important thing for me was to have drop-down menues with values instead of empty fields. In Documentmum that is called Value Assistance and is merely a text string which has nothing to do with the actual content model. Instead the value assistance is to be seem as a template to create entries in the repository. That means that it is possible to remove stuff from value assistance while the value is still in the repository.

In Alfresco this is handled through constraints in the actual content model. Those triggers the values described in the constraints list forming a drop-down menu in the web client interface. However, the values are constraints which means that there are validations going on. So if you have removed or changed spelling of something in the constraints you will get and error when you try to display a content object with the previous value in the repository.

Constraints should come first in the content model file and looks like this:

Header Separator Generator

This particular constraint is used in an attribute called “rfsl:documentkind”. Remember that the reference in the constraints section must be exactly the same as the name of the attribute.
Another big headache was to organize the attributes in the web client interface. Again in DAB there is something called “display configurations” which refers to different Documentum clients being used in the installation. In them you just reorder the attributes as you like and insert line dividers as you see fit. For Alfresco this done in the file called “web-client-config-custom.xml”.

The order in the file determine the order they are shown in the web client and if you want a separator it can be created using:

Header Separator Generator only

And in context it could look like this if we wanted a separator in the beginning:

Header Separator Generator

Bröllop i Visby

S�ren och Daniel gifter sig i Visby

Igår gifte sig Sören Andersson och Daniel Juvas i St:a Karins kyrkoruin i Visby. Det var ett vackert bröllop trots att vi inom RFSL tillsammans med brudparet valt att göra denna vigsel till ett politiskt uttalande också. Hur man än vänder och vrider på det så är faktiskt det privata också politiskt. Specuellt i HBT-frågor. Det var mycket media, politiker och andra kändisar närvarande och jag hade ansvaret för att dokumentera detta på film med vår nya HD-kamera. Jag har inte varit på så många bröllop men det är verkligen något speciellt att se blickarna från brudparen under ceremonin. På nåt sätt blir kärleken så himla tydlig just då. Det var också många som inte kunde hålla tillbaka tårarna när de läste upp sina löften till varandra. Jag hoppas jag får uppleva detta någon gång jag med. Ett stort grattis till Sören och Daniel!
Läs gärna debattartikeln i Aftonbladet

Yesterday the chairman of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) married his Daniel in the city of Visby (on the island Gotland in the Baltic Sea). It was a wonderful wedding with lots of tears as well as a lot of media attention.

Foto: Mathilda Piehl, RFSL