Without institutional support, Lithuanian trans teens struggle with taboo and prejudice

Experiences of transgender teens and children remain a taboo in Lithuania. Oftentimes, parents take their children to exorcists and self-taught psychiatrists, leading to depression or even suicide.

Lithuania does not permit gender reassignment surgery, and transgender individuals who go through the treatment abroad have to go to court to have the entry on sex changed in ID documents.

In 2007, a transgender man took Lithuania to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over refusal to recognise his sex change. The Court ordered Lithuania to pay 5,000 euros in damages and adopt a law on gender recognition. Failing to adopt the regulation, Lithuania was to cover 40,000 euros in surgery costs.

Lithuania does not recognise other forms of medical interventions either, including hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers.

Children taken to exorcists

In 2020, the LGBTQ+ organisation LGL launched an emotional support platform for LGBTQ+ children and teenagers. Platform volunteers have been getting distressing calls from transgender children and their relatives lately, with many saying they consider suicide, says Eglė Kuktoraitė, communications manager at LGL.

For transgender people, adolescence is one of the most difficult periods in life, she says. All children find changes in their pubescent bodies confusing, and for a transgender kid, it can be a particularly traumatising experience.

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