To Stem Violence, States Must Recognize Trans Identities

Published: November 20, 2014

Anna Kirey
Original Article:

Sixteen years ago this month, a transgender woman named Rita Hester was brutally stabbed to death in her apartment in Allston, Massachusetts. Her death launched a global movement to remember and honor trans people who were murdered because of their identities. Since that tragic incident, November 20 has been known as Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The psychiatrists, judges, ministry officials, and other government representatives who make decisions about transgender people’s lives in Eastern Europe and Central Asia know little about this day’s significance. What they do know is how to create obstacles for trans people who are seeking to change the gender listed on their official documents—like passports or driver’s licenses—to reflect their true identities.

In Ukraine, for instance, in order for the government to recognize a trans person’s gender identity, the individual needs to stay in a psychiatric institution for up to 45 days. Then, only when a commission of forensic psychiatrists in Kiev have “confirmed” their diagnosis of “transsexualism” and the trans person has paid for invasive and sterilizing surgeries, will the commission give them permission to change their documents.

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