Posted on 5. May 2011 in Work with Institutions

EU Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding

EU Commission expresses support for trans rights

The EU Commission answered a written request from members of the European Parliament. In her response Commissioner Reding highlights the significance to take up issues transgender people are facing.

Commissioner Reding says:

“The Commission recognises the importance of supporting the promotion of equality for transgender people. The Strategy on Equality between Women and Men 2010-2015 foresees to study the specific issues pertaining to sex discrimination in relation to gender identity.”

Through the programme PROGRESS, the Commission has allocated funding for the running and operational costs of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).  This has allowed ILGA to develop some activities in support of the rights of transgender people, and to contribute to strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations who are promoting their rights.

The Commission has also recently launched a study on “Discrimination against trans and intersex people on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression”. When the results of this study are available, the Commission will look at the appropriate follow up.”

Commissioner Reding is also Vice-President of the European Union.

Dr. Julia Ehrt, TGEU co-chair, comments: “When has an EU Commissioner ever publicly recognized the importance to look into supporting equality for transgender people? This is the most concrete acknowledgement by the EU Commission we have seen in a long time.”

Earlier this year, the Commission had answered a Parliamentary question on Depathologisation of gender identity disorder ( P-2625/10). In the Commission’s opinion the ICD does not “imply any social, cultural or moral judgment about individuals, behaviours or needs”, but promised that the EU would participate in the consultation process reviewing the ICD-10. In the current review of the International Classification of Diseases, ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ is under discussion. However, in a follow-up, DG Sanco, dealing with Health and Consumer Protection in the EU, denied that it would get involved with this particular consultation. It also did not see itself to be competent in matters of forced divorce and forced sterilisation, the access to hormonal treatment and gender reassignment surgery and the depathologisation of transgender people in ICD-11. Their answer reads: “We regret having to inform you that these issues do not fall under the competences of DG Health and Consumers.”

This shows that there is still a long way to go for a coherent approach by the EU to actively protect the human rights of transgender people. But, the response from the Fundamental Rights Commissioner gives hope.

“We are very happy that the answer gives an outlook taking into account the wide spectrum of gender identity and expression. We are even more excited to meet with Mrs Reding on May 17 and will certainly follow up.” TGEU co-chair Richard Köhler adds.