Category Archives: Justus Eisfeld

Justus Eisfeld’s speech on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the UN

 

 

By Justus Eisfeld (GATE)                                                                 

June, 2009

Geneva

 

Dear Chairwoman, distinguished participants,

Thank you for inviting me for this historic event, and for giving me the chance to speak about the work that the UN can to to combat the human rights abuses that transgender people face, as well as give you some positive examples of how these abuses and obstacles can be overcome.
I feel that I live in exciting times, when the UN, along with its member states, start to realize that the human rights of trans people matter, when in fact gender identity is included in panel discussions like this one, and when member states include gender identity in statements like the December one.
There is work to do for trans people in all UN member states, including those who have pledged to work for human rights of all citizens, regardless of their gender identity.
This also gives trans people the encouragement to demand that the signatory countries stand by their words and carry out what they say.

When I talk about trans or transgender people I use this term in the most inclusive way: Everybody who does not fit neatly into the stereotypes that go with the gender they were assigned at birth. That could be the man with the sway in his walk, the woman who wears her hair short, but also those who cross the gender lines in more obvious ways, when their intersex body does not neatly match either man *or* woman, or by identifying as transvestite or transsexual like myself.

Whenever somebody in society crosses the line of what is considered to be ‘normal’ for a man or ‘normal’ for a woman we start treading on dangerous ground. Transgender people face obstacles mainly in different ways:
we encounter violence and discrimination,
we are denied healthcare,
we have to prove sterility to match our paperwork with our identity or cannot change our papers at all.

Firstly, Violence is the most visible. In the UK – and I mention the UK only because it is one of the few countries with any reliable data, not because the situation is any better or worse than elsewhere – 73% of trans people reported negative comments, verbal, physical or sexual abuse or threatening behavior.
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has repeatedly drawn attention to the murders of transgender people in Venezuela, El Salvador, Brazil, Colombia and Honduras. Hateful murders of transgender people have been reported from most countries of the world. Some of the murders were committed by police officers and more often than not have police officers turned the other way when friends and families demanded an investigation.
On a positive note just two days ago, the Scottish parliament passed a transgender-inclusive hate-crimes bill unanimously, being the first in Europe to do so.

Secondly, access to healthcare can be a problem just as lethal as physical violence. When trans people go to a doctor for a broken bone or the flu, most of us will be treated badly, be refused for treatment altogether or simply avoid to go in the first place because of negative experiences. About 30% of trans people in the UK have that experience. Transgender-specific healthcare is often not covered by health insurance systems, even though the very same hormones are available for other patients. Way too many trans people therefore seek self-medication, and use hormones they purchase on the black market, without proper instruction on dosage, safe needle use or regular check-ups. Way too many trans people also self-medicate with amateur injections of silicone, sometimes even industrial-grade silicone. Lack of access to healthcare kills trans people every day, because we bleed to death, have silicone clotting our blood vessels or simply just kill ourselves because we can’t stand the pressure of not conforming to a gender that was assigned to us at birth. About a third of trans people in Sweden, the UK and Europe in general have attempted suicide at least once.
Intersex people or people with disorders of sex development, become the victims of surgeries which leave the person with mutilated genitalia and no sexual functioning. These surgeries are performed without the consent of the patient, who is often a small child at the time the procedures are performed.
On a positive note, Brazil has just started to integrate transgender-specific healthcare into the regular public healthcare plans, and surgeries for transgender people with a special permission are free in Chile and Argentina.

Thirdly, changing one’s paperwork to match the identity of that person is a nightmare all over the world. In about 90% of the EU member states, including the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, sterilization, other surgeries or hormone treatment are a requirement just to be able to change one letter in a passport or birth certificate. In other words: these states are prescribing surgeries and hormones without a doctor’s license. Ireland and Lithuania have so far failed to react to their conviction by the European Court of Human Rights and still deny trans people the right to change their birth certificate or personal identification number several years after the verdict.
A positive example in this respect is Kazakhstan which allows their transgender citizens to change their paperwork without any kind of medical treatment in a ministerial order from 2003.

I could go on much longer.
I could talk about rejection by family members, by friends and by neighbors.
I could talk about the humiliating feeling of being diagnosed with a personality disorder.

But this list is getting too depressing already.

What the UN statement does is to give trans people the hope that our governments will take up our issues, and will look at their own laws and correct problems where they exist. None of the signatory states of the UN statement are there yet. In fact all of the core group members and organizers of this panel seriously violate the human rights of trans people at this moment. But by signing this statement and by organizing this panel these countries open the door and demonstrates the willingness to look at their issues at home and treat trans people better in the future.
I would like to invite the High Commissioner to look into the human rights abuses that trans people face and to make an overview of these issues in the laws which regulate a change of paperwork.
I would like to invite Ireland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, France, and Norway to lead the way in this process by announcing that name and gender changes will be possible to all trans and intersex people who feel the need to do so – irrespective of whether or not they have had surgeries, hormone treatments or a personality disorder diagnosis.
I would like to invite all countries to follow the example of Bolivia and outlaw discrimination against trans people in their constitution or in other laws.
I would like to ask all other countries to do the same and – hopefully – follow that good example.

Thank you.

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Justus Eisfeld is an Internationally recognized expert in the field of diversity and anti-discrimination,with special expertise in transgender and LGB issues.He is an excellent networker and a convincing public speaker.Presently Justus is actively invloved in the advisory boards of LGBT Program-HRW and Transgender Europe. Justus is well known lobbyist for protection and recognition rights of the Trans Individuals across the globe.

 

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Europe: Not a safe haven for Trans Individuals

 Compiled by Ashok DEB

These facts are based on the speech by Justus Eisfeld delivered at the World Conferrence of Human Rights,Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,held in Paris on 15th May ’09 and a study written by him for Fundamental Rights Agency of EU on the issue of Transphobia.

Transphobhia in Europe Union does not seem to be any better compared to any other civilised nations.The European Transphobia can be broadly categorised in three distinct parameters.

1.Transphobia can be an act of violence and aggression on Trans individuals only because of their gender identity.

 2.Transphobia can take form of act of exclusion, where the oppurtuanities towards a better life is curtailed down

3.Transphobia can also take up a subtle but non-extinct form as acts of PASSIVE exclusion,where officially the trans rights are upheld but in reality the Trans individuals are discriminated upon.

ACTS OF VIOLENCE:

 UK: 73% of the Trans individuals have experienced hate comments,sexual or physical abuses.These indivuals continue to live under a fear psychosis of getting manhandled again in future.

Among those who called upon the assistance of police , a substatial 20% of them were not treated properly,while a whopping one third of the Trans population expressed fear of non-affirmative actions by law enforcers in similar circumstances.

Sweeden: 59% of the Trans Individuals fear harassment and violence on daily basis.

Trans individuals have been murdered in Portugal,Netherlands,France Italy as an act of hate crime.Scores of such atrocities and murders have gone UNREPORTED,as the European nations fails to keep statistical documentations on such events.

A joint Sweedish and British study has indicated that social rejection and anti-pathy has driven one third of European Trans individuals towards attempting SUICIDE.

ACTS OF EXCLUSION:

UK:  45% of the Trans people have reported Breakdown in their family relationship after COMING OUT and revealing their gender identity.

Scotland:46% of the Trans people have reported abusive domestic relationship by their families or partners.

HEALTHCARE:

80% of the people in Transgender Europe Study reported to have to paid for their own medical treatment which includes the surgeries and hormonal treatment required to live as a gender of their choice.

UK: 29% of the Trans people have reported to be frowned upon in Hospitals when they arriveded for treatment for medical issues those were not related to their gender identity.

Sweeden: 12% of the Trans people are reported to be in poor health, twice the percentage of the average poplulation.

Hungary: Trans indivuals are forced to bribe the officials for the surgeries and Hormonal treatment they require and studies on Transphobia in Hungary indicates that safe treament for Trans people is highly unlikely in this state.

 UK: Trans indivuals stumbled upon doctors who either refused to assist them or were unaware about such possibilities.Only a meagre 20% of the physicians could assist them with medication or necessary informations.

Intersex people are being regularly subjected to cosmetic surgeries after their birth without their CONSENT and without any proper knowledge of negative impact of these treatment in their later life.

EMPLOYEMENT and EDUCATION:

European Union: 11 members of the EU have not tabled the anti-discrimination laws in the EU legislations.

Spain: 50% of the Trans indivuals are UNEMPLOYED while 17% of them are involved in illegal and dangerous activities in order to survive.

Bulgaria: Excludes Trans indivuals from the military.

UK: 30% of the indivuals of Trans community in school were bullied not only by the students but also by the academic peers.

Even the countries like France, Norway and Netherlands who are aggressively campaigning for the recognition of the same-sex relationships and safety of the Homosexuals worldwide, requires extensive surgeries and psycho-therapie to those who wish to change their gender on the official documents and passports.

90% of the European countries force Transpeople to undergo some forms of surgeries,hormonal treatments and body modification before they could be formally allowed a change of gender.

The above datas and statistics highly suggests that its time for the European nations to take a closer re-look about the plight of trans community and adopt a more viable approach of assimilating them in the mainstream progressive society.

 

 

 

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Filed under Ashok DEB, International Trans Issues, Justus Eisfeld