International Transgender Visibility Day is celebrated worldwide on March 31st . On that occasion, LGL`s EVS volunteer Veronika from Slovakia took an iniciative and prepared a non-formal educational workshop on trans* human rights that took place in LGBT* community centre on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
“I started to be interested in trans* human rights after one friend of mine came out to me as trans*. In that time I was studying gender studies and social anthropology and I took every opportunity to write an essay or paper for my studies on this topic. My bachelor thesis was called “Transgenderism: Towards Human Rights Perspective”. I also did my practice in Slovak organization for empowerment of transgender people Transfúzia and I had a possibility to meet and talk to more transgender people. Through my friends I feel personally involved in the topic and I find it important to address it, because there are still many misconceptions and myths about transgender people in our societies,” says Veronika about her motivation to do this workshop.
During the workshop the most common myths about transgender people were addressed and discussed, the terms related to trans* human rights topics were introduced and explained (transgender, cisgender, trans woman, trans man, transition, assigned at birth…). The participants also took part in the activity during which they had to empathize with a trans girl Žaneta who likes swimming and wants to go to the public swimming pool. “Sometimes the situations that are very common for cisgender people, like visiting a public bathroom or picking up your letter from the post office when you have to show your ID card, could be a big challenge for transgender people. If people don`t know anybody who is trans*, they are usually not aware of it, so it is important to raise awareness about these topics.” says Veronika.
EVS volunteer Giordano created badges with pronouns “he”, “she” and “they”, so each participant could take one with the pronoun they use for the workshop. “In everyday life you do not have the badge with your pronoun clipped on you. That`s why we have addressed also this topic during the workshop. It is not impolite to ask somebody which pronoun they use. It is certainly not the question you ask every day and I was very nervous when I asked it first time. But person just answered to me, I got to know about how to address them and our interaction could go on,” says Veronika about her experience.
At the beginning of the workshop the participants were sharing their thoughts about what comes to their minds when we say “transgender”. A lot of insightful ideas appeared on the flipchart. Diana, LGL`s volunteer`s coordinator, had a good point here: “For me, when talking about transgender people, it is always about legal issues.” At presence, gender reassignment process is not regulated by law in Lithuania, but there are things going on in this regard. Recently the Lithuanian government placed two Lithuanian ministries under obligation to prepare legal acts that would enable gender reassignment procedure in Lithuania. In October 2016 two transgender men sought legal gender recognition before Lithuanian courts. LGL is working on transgender agenda within several projects. As a result of one of them, the publication Documenting Experiences of Transgender People in Employment was issued recently.
There is still a lot of work to do in progressing towards the equality of transgender people and implementing human rights standards in law. Let`s see this workshop in LGBT* community centre as a part of the puzzle that we have to put together on our way to equality and dignity for everyone.
LGL is carrying out the 10-month project “Heading Towards Visibility and Equality” and “Democracy and Art Intertwined: Working Towards Empowered and Active LGBT Community and Allies in Lithuania” under the Erasmus+ program EVS (European Voluntary Service).