Saturday, September 04, 2010

Being trans in Europe

Last Wednesday, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights and the Greens/European Free Alliance co-hosted a conference on transgender* rights in the European Union. The Greens/European Free Alliance is a European parliamentary group made up of members of the European Green Party and representatives of stateless nations and disadvantaged minorities.

Transgender Europeans are a particularly vulnerable group. Seventy nine percent have reported negative comments, verbal, physical or sexual abuse or threatening behavior in public. Thirty three trans women and men have been murdered in Europe in the last 30 months.

European transgenders face extreme prejudice and disadvantage much like anywhere else. They face direct discrimination through hate crimes and lack of access to goods and services, the labor market, and resources such as vocational training and education.

They also suffer indirect and institutionalized discrimination through the absence of laws in European member states recognizing gender identity. Trans individuals are unable to formally change their name and gender due to unreasonable conditions imposed by most member states such as sterilization, permanent infertility and sex reassignment surgery.

These draconian conditions violate basic human rights of transgender Europeans – the rights to freedom of movement, physical integrity and choice of medical interventions.

Participants of the conference started a much needed conversation about the state of transgender people in Europe. They acknowledged the necessity of mandating the recognition of gender identity and protection of transgender citizens in all member states. This conversation should be had everywhere.

*A transgender or trans person is someone whose gender identity does not correspond to the gender with which he or she was born. This includes transsexual, transgender, gender variant and genderqueer people, transvestites, crossdressers and no gender people.

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