After the TGEU Steering Committee meeting at the weekend of 7th-8th May in Brussels, the Advocacy Working Group of TGEU engaged in a series of meetings with representatives of the EU Commission.
The purpose of the meetings was to introduce TGEU as a legitimate voice of the trans* community in Europe. The two co-chairs raise awareness in the Commission about the experiences of trans* people in Europe, such as hate crime and violence, access to general and trans-related healthcare, difficulties accessing employment, as well as procedures and requirements regarding legal gender recognition. Steering Committee member, Cat McIlroy, illustrated the overall problem of the lack of legal gender recognition with the example of Ireland. Changing the gender marker in birth certificates is still not possible in Ireland, despite the explicit ruling of the Irish High Court.
TGEU also met with the Regional Office for Europe of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – (OHCHR). The purpose was to raise awareness about experiences of trans people in Europe and to explore further working relations. OHCHR Regional Representative, Jan Jarab, and Human Rights Officer, Pablo Espiniella, showed great interest in TGEU’s global research project, Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide, and its findings from the Trans Murder Monitoring Project. The office works directly with the institutions of the Council of Europe and European Union but also engages with states on the national level. Pablo Espiniella highlighted the importance of a dialogue from civil society such as Transgender Europe and engagement from the trans human rights groups on the national level.
In the meeting with legal experts of the DG Justice, the discussion was more technical focusing on the current review of how EU Gender Equality legislation is implemented in member states and its’ effects for trans people. TGEU and ILGA-Europe highlighted that coverage of trans people in existing anti-discrimination laws is at best patchy. Few countries actually have provisions to protect trans people from discrimination. Even where they do exist, trans people as well as public authorities are unaware as texts do not explicitly refer to transgender people. Ample evidence of living experiences of transgender people made clear that an extensive implementation is indispensable. A joint input of TGEU and ILGA-Europe on how the principle of equal treatment of women and men of the Goods & Services Directive is implemented in regard to trans people can be found here.
On the occasion TGEU was participating in a meeting with EU Commissioner Reding, bringing to her attention the issues of discrimination transgender people are facing in the EU. Viviane Reding is the EU Fundamental Rights Commissioner as well as Vice-President of the European Commission. Read more about this meeting here. The Commissioner had affirmed, earlier in an answer to a Parliamentary Question, the importance of supporting the promotion of equality for transgender people. As a direct follow-up, TGEU co-chair, Richard Köhler, and Silvan Agius from ILGA-Europe met with Dana Trama-Zada, member of the Reding Cabinet on June 20th. Among other areas of work, Ms Trama-Zada is responsible for gender equality, anti-discrimination and minority rights in the Commissioner’s team. Again, European standards in implementing EU anti-discrimination legislation and possible future actions by the Commission were on the agenda. The European Commission has commissioned a report on ‘Discrimination against trans and intersex people on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression’, to be published in Autumn 2011, where further steps will be explored.
TGEU gratefully acknowledges the support of ILGA-Europe for these advocacy events and the Steering Committee meeting.