Transgender Europe (TGEU) and Trans Network Balkan (TMB) have made a submission to the European Commission on the experiences of trans people in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The European Commission monitors the situation in these (future) EU Accession candidate countries for its compliance with the EU acquis.
TGEU and TMB found that trans people belong to one of the most oppressed and marginalised parts of Balkan societies, facing socially sanctioned violence, and widespread discrimination in all areas of life. Their rights are at large disregarded. Where legal protections exist, they remain illusory and theoretical in practice. Recent years have seen a worrying increase in hate speech and populist scapegoating party rhetorics targeting trans activists across the region. An adequate response from public authorities or law enforcement is missing.
Specific regulations that would ensure trans people a life in dignity are either fully absent or archaic. European standards of ‘providing quick, accessible, transparent procedures based on self-determination’, and ‘ensuring gender reassignment procedures that are available, accessible and covered through public health insurance schemes’ are not upheld:
1) Legal gender recognition regulations are not available in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia; procedures in Montenegro and Serbia require sterility and heavy medical interventions.
2) Trans-specific healthcare (TSHC) is unavailable in most countries of the region with the exception of Belgrade, Serbia (regional monopoly) and partly Montenegro.
Authorities in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia should focus on:
Improving legislative protection:
● Introduction of quick, transparent, accessible legal gender recognition based on self-determination
● Inclusion of gender reassignment in healthcare coverage
● Training for police forces, prosecutors and judges on gender identity and gender diversity
● Targeted measurs by law enforcment to curb anti-trans violence and encourage victims of transphobic violence to report by introducing liaison police officers
● Promoting a positive understanding of gender diversity in education and by public figures
● Condemning transphobic hate speech and violence by public figures and the media
● Prosecution of threats and violence against trans rights activists as a threat to democracy and the functioning of civil society
● Consulting and actively involving trans civil society on how to improve the lives of trans people.