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Welcome to the Official Schedule for RightsCon Toronto 2018. This year’s program, built by our global community, is our most ambitious one yet. Within the program, you will find 18 thematic tracks to help you navigate our 450+ sessions

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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

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Thursday, May 17 • 16:00 - 17:00
Digital Landscapes of Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe: Threats, Opportunities and Resistance

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This panel will present findings from new research conducted by Astraea and Transgender Europe on the state of communications, digital activism, surveillance and access to technology in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with a spotlight on trans activists’ digital organizing needs, realities and resistance strategies. Eastern Europe and Central Asia share a history of government surveillance, censorship, repression of human rights advocacy, and oppressive policies towards women, trans and queer people. In recent years, increased surveillance and lack of internet freedom, in the context of closing space, rising authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism, has only exacerbated the repression of LGBTQI and feminist activism. Trans activists, who already face multiple challenges such as high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence, are particularly vulnerable. Yet despite rising surveillance, censorship and online hate speech, the internet continues to be the main medium connecting trans communities and the trans movement.

There tends to be very little knowledge of or attention to Eastern Europe and Central Asia in internet freedom and human rights spaces. The experiences of trans activists are further invisible. This panel will not only provide an overview of the context for digital organizing in these regions, but also highlight how trans activists are navigating online spaces and resisting threats to their safety and wellbeing. A key research finding is that activists’ experiences are multidimensional and must be viewed holistically. Digital security threats are intimately connected to the physical threats, burnout, exhaustion and broader human rights violations that trans people face. Another key finding is that trans activists, while greatly in need of increased digital and holistic security support, are using unique resistance strategies to counter these threats, including creative digital tactics.

The panel will feature 2-3 key speakers - trans activists from Central Asia and Eastern Europe who will share case studies of how they are organizing online and navigating the digital threats they face. It will be facilitated by Astraea Senior Program Officer, who will also provide an engaging overview of the research findings. We will invite participation, questions and contributions from the audience throughout this interactive session.

avatar for Mariam Gagoshashvili

Mariam Gagoshashvili

Associate Director of Programs, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Mariam Gagoshashvili (she/her/hers) is Associate Director of Programs overseeing programmatic work of Astraea’s International Fund in the areas of grantmaking, capacity strengthening and accompaniment, research, and philanthropic advocacy. In her prior role at Astraea as a Senior... Read More →


Dia Kayyali

Program Manager, tech + advocacy, WITNESS
Dia Kayyali coordinates WITNESS’ tech + advocacy work, engaging with technology companies and working on tools and policies that help human rights advocates safely, securely and ethically document human rights abuses and expose them to the world.

Thursday May 17, 2018 16:00 - 17:00 EDT