Posted on 20. May 2011 in Work with Institutions

 Commissioner Reding learns first-hand about trans experiences


On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the EU Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Viviane Reding, met with LGBT people to learn first-hand about challenges experienced on the ground. Transgender Europe, represented by co-chair Richard Köhler, brought to the Commissioner’s attention the difficulties many trans people experience on the job market; the high prevalence of violence and harrassment the community is facing as well as the inhumane barriers many EU member states impose for changing documents, such as sterility, divorce and mental diagnosis.

Accessing official documents that reflect the person’s name and gender are key for many to access employment, education and daily life, such as picking up a parcel at the post-office or traveling cross borders.

The Commissioner, who is also the Vice-President of the European Commission, acknowledged that while having had some understanding that trans people might face difficulties, she had not been aware of its great extent. She promised to pay greater attention to transgender issues in the future.

TGEU emphasized that EU Competence to work on trans issues has already been established by the European Court of Justice in the P v S and Cornwall County Council in 1996. The finding of the case, discrimination related to gender reassignment amounts to sex-discrimination, has been incorporated in EU Gender Equality law. The Gender ReCast Directive (2006/54/EC) and the Gender Goods & Services Directive (2004/113/EC) are protecting  trans people from discrimination, too. However, many member states tend to ignore this fact in their (lacking) implementation of these laws.

TGEU asked the Commissioner to pay greater attention to the full implementation of these EU laws on national level as the application of existing protection in employment and when accessing goods and services would already mean improvements for many trans people.

Transgender Europe will continue to work with DG Justice, the Commission’s institution dealing with (gender) equality and anti-discrimination to follow-up on this meeting and Ms Reding’s answer to a parliamentary question earlier this year.

Transgender Europe expresses its gratitude to the team of ILGA-Europe, who made this encounter possible.

Read also on ILGA-Europe’s website about the meeting.