News & Updates

"We have done much but we know we only have just begun"

DATE & TIME: October 08, 2023, 08:30 PM. FILED UNDER: Statement. LINK TO POST:
IMAGE CREDIT: From a post on the Trans Health Philippines Facebook page on October 1, 2023

(Welcome Remarks, edited for print, delivered by Glenn A. Cruz, incumbent member of the Board of Trustees of TLF Share Collective, on the occasion of the Fulfill Trans*Health Launch held on September 30, 2023 at B Hotel, Quezon City.)

Last September 15, TLF Share turned 18. We were formed by peer educators of HIV prevention projects who have taken on a heavier stake in the response. (By this, we mean, tansders na kami.) And we continue to engage and learn from our collective experience.

Backs in the day, "MSM" (or men who have sex with men) was the term used. But even then, TLF Share had been critical at how the term conveniently blinded itself from what is truly the experience of the SOGIESC diverse community, and how heterosexism, homophobia, stigma and denial of sexuality and gender are key determinants of the HIV burden. 

Towards the 2010s, just around the time that the Philippines is experiencing a rude awakening to a fast and furious HIV epidemic, TLF Share was already one of a few community-based organizations in the Asia-Pacific region that made the distinction both in language, in engagement, and in work: Trans women are not MSM.

The Trans*Health Project, while not our first that involved trans workers, clients, and focus, has been the biggest so far in terms of scope and development support. This was the project opportunity that had been on our wish list for almost as long as TLF Share has operated. Trans inclusivity is consciously pegged as an organizational development as well as a strategic priority for several medium terms already. Trans inclusivity prevails in our governance structure, in our terms of institutional partnership building, in our technical consultancy, and in our policy advocacy initiatives. We have done much but we know we only have just begun. 

The incumbent Board made a choice for the organization's strategic focus to be on the sexual health and rights of the GBMTs (gay and bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, trans women and men) that are further in the last mile in terms of access to health and social protection. This is the choice strategy when we outlined our integrated program framework for empowering GBMTs on sexuality, health and rights, or the SHARE GBMT. 

In this SHARE GBMT framework, we will still harness our partnerships in and for the community that mirror and honor the legacies of the pioneering Filipino LGBT peer educators, and founding members of TLF Share. We are thankful that many of those legacies were effectively used as approaches, and were deployed in the Trans*Health project. We are committed to build upon these gains from the project. 

Along this same timeline, we will engage our clients and partners for their solidarity, and for their counterpart advocacy efforts in order for the national SOGIESC equality policy to be finally realized, and for HIV prevention and care to further improve into a genuinely rights-based response, so that all persons living with and affected by HIV are able to enjoy the benefits of Universal Health Care.  

I share this space with more key personalities and messages, and these, the foregoing, are just some of my thoughts aligned with warmly welcoming you all, and thanking you for joining us today. Good afternoon.