The current theme for Words That Burn is LGBTI rights and our poetry action is for trans activist Sakris. Watch poets Yrsa Daley-Ward and Patrick Cash taking the Make a Difference in a Minute challenge.
You can also take the challenge by writing a poem about LGBTI rights that you can perform in one minute or less.
And that's the thing about ignorance by Yrsa Daley-Ward
What Scares You by Patrick Cash
Patrick is a writer living in London. Patrick’s Make a Difference in a Minute poem for LGBTI rights shares some of the events that have impacted upon him. The poem ends with a call to action to join the LGBTI movement in their fight for equality and against hate.
Take the challenge
Submit your own poem which can be:
- Your personal experience of, or view on, LGBTI's rights;
- An appeal or solidarity poem for Sakris Kupila, an activist campaigning for reform of Finland’s humiliating trans gender recognition laws (details below).
Speak out for Sakris
Sakris Kupila is a 22-year-old medical student and activist from Finland. Sakris is being denied legal gender recognition in Finland because he refuses to undergo a humiliating process that involves a mental disorder diagnosis and enforced sterilization – which would prevent Sakris from ever being able to have his own biological children.
Sakris is calling for reform of Finland’s gender recognition procedures, which violate the rights of transgender people to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, to have the highest attainable standard of health, to privacy, and to recognition as a person before the law.
Sakris has suffered harassment, intimidation, violent threats and open hostility because of his work defending the rights of transgender people. It got so bad that he was forced to take a year away from his university education. But Sakris remains determined to continue his campaign.
Solidarity and appeal
Write a solidarity poem to Sakris, letting him know that you support him and his campaign for the rights of transgender people in Finland.
Write an appeal poem to Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to tell him that the legal gender recognition procedure in Finland is humiliating and violates the rights of transgender people. Call on him to support Sakris and the rights of transgender people.
How you make a difference
Read Sakris’ blog I Am Fighting To Stop Finland Sterilising Trans People to find out what your messages mean to him.
'I was a teenager when I realised the gender I had been given at birth didn’t truly express who I am. But in Finland – my home country – the ‘Trans Act’ forces trans people to be sterilised and go through invasive medical screening before they can legally change their gender. The alternative is to live life in a state of limbo, without a name or legal gender that reflects who they are.
'To force someone to make this decision is to categorise them as subhuman.'
Find out more about our campaigning for LGBTI rights and how you can get involved.
Trans Rights – Gender Recognition
In Finnish Law
Act on Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals (2002)
This is the law in Finland that governs how trans people can get their gender identity legally recognised. This states that to apply you must:
- have a medical statement certifying that you wish to belong permanently to the opposite gender
- you live in that gender role
- you have been sterilized or are ‘for some other reason infertile’
Read more about Finland’s Act on Legal Recognition of the Gender of Transsexuals in Sakris’ blog post I Am Fighting To Stop Finland Sterilising Trans People.
In UK Law
The Gender Recognition Act (2004)
This is the law in the UK that governs how trans people can get their gender identity legally recognised. Under the current Act you can apply to legally change your gender if you can:
- provide evidence that you socially transitioned at least two years before applying
- provide two separate medical diagnoses, from a GP and from a gender specialist, to ‘prove’ you are suffering from gender dysphoria
Read more about the UK’s Gender Recognition Act in blog post Scotland moves towards legal gender self-declaration.
You can submit your poem in written form or as an audio clip or video clip that is one-minute or less. A selection of poems will be chosen for showcase on our website. We will let you know if your poem is chosen.
If you submit an appeal or solidarity poem for Sakris Kupila, Amnesty International UK will send your written poems, and where possible audio and video clips, to Sakris and the Finnish Prime Minister.
The deadline for poetry submissions is Friday 29 July.