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NETHERLANDS to compensate trans victims of forced sterilisation

Transgender people will get compensation of 5,000 euros each after Dutch apology.


By By Karolin Schaps


Thomson Reuters Foundation (01.12.2020) – https://bit.ly/3gtwgbB – The Dutch government has agreed to pay about 2,000 trans people who had to undergo sterilisation to legally change their gender 5,000 euros ($5,993) each in compensation.


Until 2014, Dutch trans people who wished to amend the gender on their birth certificate first had to be sterilised and to alter their bodies, through hormones and surgery, to match their new gender.


“Such a violation of physical integrity is no longer imaginable today,” said Sander Dekker, Dutch minister for legal protection, in a statement.


“It is important to acknowledge the suffering of transgender people and to offer recognition, compensation and apologies for it.”


The Netherlands follows in the footsteps of Sweden, which in 2018 became the first country in the world to compensate victims of a similar sterilisation law.


However, the Dutch compensation package for trans people who changed their registered gender between July 1, 1985 and July 1, 2014 is much lower than Sweden’s payment of 225,000 crowns ($26,411) per person.


A number of European Union countries still require sterilisation in order to legally change gender, including Finland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.


“It is quite a u-turn,” said Willemijn van Kempen, a trans woman who was one of the initiators of the compensation campaign, which was launched in 2019 by a group of individuals and trans rights groups.


“Apologies and recognition are given after all the forced procedures on our body and the sterilisation resulting in an unfulfilled wish to have children,” she said in a statement issued by women’s rights law firm Bureau Clara Wichmann.


“I am happy with (the decision), but it still feels unreal and I have to let this sink in for a while.”


Nora Uitterlinden, a spokeswoman for Transgender Netwerk Nederland, welcomed the government’s apology.


“The wounds this inflicted on so many people and on the community as a whole are deep and enduring,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.


“Both those who ultimately underwent surgery and sterilisation to comply with the law as well as those who did not and consequently had to live without legal recognition of their identity.”

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Transgender Pakistanis find solace in a church of their own

For transgender Christians shunned by their own community, the new church is a refuge from a lifetime of pain.


Al Jazeera (26.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/3lAkU6C – Pakistan’s Christian transgender people, often mocked, abused and bullied, say they have found peace and solace in a church of their own.


Shunned by other churches, they can raise their voices high here.


During a recent service, transgender women, scarves loose over their long hair, conducted Bible readings and raucously sang hymns, accompanied by the rhythms of a drum played by a transgender elder in the church.


The church, called the First Church of Eunuchs, is the only one for transgender Christians in Pakistan.


“Eunuch” is a term often used for transgender women in South Asia, though some consider it derogatory.


The church’s pastor and co-founder Ghazala Shafique said she chose the name to make a point, citing at length verses from the Bible saying “eunuchs” are favoured by God.


In Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, on the Arabian Sea coast, it sits in the shadow of a towering brownstone cathedral, where the congregation says they do not feel welcome.

“People looked at us with eyes that are laughing at us,” said Nena Soutrey, a transgender woman whose life has been a tragedy of beatings, bullying and abuse.


“No one wants to sit near us and some even say we are an abomination. But we’re not. We are humans. We are people. What is wrong with us? This is who we are,” she said, wearing a bright red scarf over her shoulders.


Transgender women and men of all faiths are often publicly bullied and humiliated or even face violence in Pakistan, though the government has recognised them officially as a third gender.


Often disowned by their families, they resort to begging and work as wedding dancers. They are often sexually abused and end up as sex workers.


A minority within a minority


Transgender Christians are a minority within a minority in the overwhelmingly Muslim country.


Christians and other religious minorities often face discrimination and feel their place is tenuous.


While the community can find support among themselves, transgender Christians are most often rejected.


At churches, they are told to sit at the back and sometimes told not to dress as a woman.


Arsoo, a transgender woman, said in churches with separate women’s and men’s sections, she was bounced back and forth, told by the women to sit with the men and told by the men to sit with the women.


“I found myself in such a confusing situation,” she said.


Arzoo said she loved to sing the hymns or recite the Bible but in churches she attended they asked her not to sing.

“I would try to come in front but the others, they considered it a dishonour if we participate,” she said.


“I don’t understand why they feel like this. We are human too, born of our parents. The way God created them, God also created us.”


At their new church, the pastor, Shafique, celebrates the nearly three-hour service, but it is the transgender congregation that takes the lead.


The church is set up in the courtyard outside Shafique’s home. Brightly coloured carpets give warmth to the cement yard.


Pale blue plastic chairs, many of them dirty and cracked, serve as pews.


It is located in the same sprawling compound as the cathedral, protected by high walls and a steel gate.


But there is no mistaking that the humble church belongs to them: A giant six-foot billboard emblazoned with a large cross proudly announces in English, “The First Church for Eunuchs”.


‘Khwaja sira’


An Urdu translation underneath uses the term transgender Pakistanis more often use for themselves, “khwaja sira”.


Shafique, a rare female pastor in Pakistan, was first approached about starting the church by an unexpected advocate, a Muslim – Neesha Rao, Pakistan’s only transgender lawyer.


Rao tells with pride how she begged on the streets for 10 years to put herself through law school.


Rao said she was moved by her transgender Christian friends who were often afraid to announce their faith, fearing a further abuse, but also could not find solace among fellow Christians.


“I am a Muslim child and a Muslim transgender, but I had a pain in my heart for the Christian transgenders,” said Rao as she attended a Friday evening service.


She attends every week, she said, standing behind the worshippers.


Shafique belongs to the Church of Pakistan, a united Protestant Church of Anglican, Methodist and Reform Churches.


‘Theological issues’


So far, her efforts with the hierarchy to get her church recognised have been rebuffed.


“They tell me there are theological issues,” Shafique said. “I am still waiting to hear what those theological issues are.”


She is sharply critical of clerics who would rather want transgender congregants to be invisible or stay away altogether and of parents who reject their transgender children.


“Church elders have told me they are not clean … that they are not righteous,” she said.


“We reject them … and then they become so broken and then they get into all bad things. I say we are to be blamed, the church and the parents.”


Pakistan’s recognition of a third gender was a remarkable move for the conservative country.


It was life-changing for many because it allowed them to acquire identity cards, needed for everything from getting a driver’s license to opening a bank account.


“This is a great step,” Shafique said. But she added it does not change attitudes.


Parents often refuse to give their transgender children their birth certificates needed to get an ID card or forbid them to use their family name.


A refuge from pain


For Soutrey, the church is a refuge from a lifetime of pain.


Tears welled up and her voice cracked as she told of how her mother died when she was just 12, and her brothers beat and insulted her.


Finally, she fled to live on the streets and found acceptance within the transgender community.


She has stopped going out at night because of harassment and abuse.


“First thing I want to say is no one should have to suffer as transgenders suffer,” said Soutrey, between her tears.


“People treat us worse than dogs,” she said, even in mainstream churches she attended.


“This church is important for us because we are free and happy sitting here, worshipping the God who created us.”

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JOINT STATEMENT: Trans Day of Remembrance 2020: Fighting for our futures

On Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR), 20 November, we remember and honour trans and gender-diverse people whose lives were taken away from us.


ILGA-Europe (19.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/3fsI6Cc – Day after day, trans people around the world fight for our human rights and social justice. Year after year, we demand that trans people are protected from violence. We demand that our human rights are respected. We demand our right to live.


This year, the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) reported 350 trans and gender-diverse people murdered worldwide between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020.


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, inequalities, systemic oppression, and violence by state and non-state actors are heightened. The realities of trans communities that are hugely marginalised and underrepresented, such as Black and people of colour, sex workers, migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, Roma, people with disabilities, and those living with HIV, remain mostly unseen. Lack of access to healthcare, employment, housing, education, and justice, as well as stigmatisation and persecution, are just some of the results of the inaction of societies that do little or nothing to protect trans and gender-diverse people.


Trans activists and movements are persistently fighting to ensure that trans rights, policies, and legal measures protecting trans people are put in place. However, the lives of trans and gender-diverse people remain constantly at risk, particularly for those of us who are affected by racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, ableism and anti-sex worker sentiment and discrimination. Increasing hostility from anti-trans feminist groups, exclusion from mainstream LGBT groups, and the rise of political networks mobilising anti-gender movements severely aggravate these risks.


November is a particularly painful month for trans people. Trans Day of Remembrance reminds us of how normative and oppressive systems strive to erase us, to eradicate our existence. This date reminds us that violence towards one of us is violence towards all of us. It reminds us of the urgency and importance of building more self-aware, resilient, and connected trans movements. It is not enough that we are in one another’s thoughts; we have to be in one another’s actions. We will not let anyone stop us from fighting for our dignity, caring for our communities, and celebrating our lives. To our trans siblings around the world, you are not alone. We are in this together.


On Trans Day of Remembrance, we call on you to join our fight. Do not only share the horrific statistics on murders of trans people worldwide. Make sure that the lives of trans people who are still alive are part of your fight. Amplify trans voices while we live. Educate others about trans rights while we live. Donate to organisations focusing on marginalised and underrepresented trans communities. Commit to concrete actions and confront the pervasive structural and cistemic oppression that keeps us deprived of our basic rights. Let us end all forms of violence and discrimination against trans and gender-diverse people together.


Together, we fight for our futures. Fight with us!

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US: Trump administration doubles down on trans discrimination

US Congress should pass the Equality Act.


By Ryan Thoreson


HRW (25.06.2020) – https://bit.ly/2ZngsPB – The Trump administration is moving ahead with a rule that would write transgender people out of sex discrimination protections in health care. While advocates fight the rule in court, transgender people will continue to face discriminatory treatment and refusals of care.


This comes despite a United States Supreme Court ruling last week that affirmed employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, reasoning that gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by law.


Human Rights Watch has documented the daunting barriers that transgender people face finding healthcare services. Transgender people often are unable to find care, encounter discrimination or refusals in healthcare settings, or simply avoid seeking care because of concerns they will be mistreated.


When the administration first proposed the new rule in 2019, Human Rights Watch joined thousands of other organizations and individuals in raising its serious concerns with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although it received more than 20,000 comments opposing the rule, HHS adopted the regulation, leaving transgender people even more vulnerable to the routine discrimination they already face in healthcare settings.


The rollback of healthcare protections is the latest in a long string of Trump administration attacks on transgender people.


Since 2017, the administration has withdrawn regulatory protections for transgender children in schools, fought recognition of transgender people under federal employment laws, banned transgender people from serving in the military, rolled back protections for transgender people in prisons, and threatened to cut off funding to schools that let transgender girls participate in sports.


The administration’s cruel assault on transgender rights shows no signs of letting up. Just after the healthcare regulation was finalized, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said it would propose a rule permitting single-sex homeless shelters to turn away transgender people.


The Supreme Court’s recent decision pulls the rug from under these anti-transgender regulations by making clear that sex, as prohibited grounds for discrimination, includes gender identity. Instead of waiting for the courts to strike them down, the US Senate should pass the Equality Act, which would expressly protect transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, federally funded programs, and other domains. As the past week shows, unless lawmakers take action, the administration will continue its campaign to deprive transgender people of their fundamental rights.

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Romanian rights groups condemn ban on gender identity studies

By Luiza Ilie


Reuters (17.06.2020) – https://reut.rs/2Z0qSoa – Romanian human rights groups and universities on Wednesday condemned a blanket ban on gender identity studies voted through by lawmakers, which they said would legitimise discrimination against the country’s LGBT minority.


Parliament passed the amendment to the education law on Tuesday, pushing Romania’s sexual politics onto the same authoritarian track as neighbouring Hungary and Poland.


The bill, approved without public debate, would consign Romanian education “back to the Middle Ages,” student associations said in a statement.


The groups, along with universities, said the amendment contravened human rights and freedom of expression, and urged President Klaus Iohannis – who is on record as advocating equality and who must sign all bills into law – to reject it.


Socially conservative Romania decriminalised homosexuality in 2001, decades later than other parts of the European Union, and is one of the only EU states that bar marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples.


Lawmakers had “voted against a segment of the population they should be representing and protecting,” Patrick Brăila, a rights activist for Romanian’s estimated 120,000 transgender people, said in a statement.


“As such, they are directly responsible for all transgender people who are discriminated (against).”


In Hungary, lawmakers voted last month to ban transgender people from changing their gender on identity documents, while Polish President Andrzej Duda Poland this week compared LGBT “ideology” to communist doctrine in an election campaign speech.


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