Gender identity refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, including the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms. Transgender people do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. They are confronted with several forms of discrimination and difficulties in all aspects of life.
Some of these problems are similar to those experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people, such as discrimination in access to work, housing and health care; vulnerability to hate crimes, bullying, physical and sexual violence. However, the level of discrimination and hostility experienced by transgender people is more severe, both because they face a higher degree of social rejection and because sometimes they are more visible.
Other forms of discrimination are specific to transgender people. They include severe violations of human rights such as coercive sterilisation or forced dissolution of marriage as preconditions for legal gender recognition. A significant number of transgender people lose their jobs when they begin their transition; many of them are unemployed and live in poverty. Transgender people face difficulties in access to appropriate healthcare and reassignment surgery. Administrative procedures for gender legal recognition can be very cumbersome.
At present, there are shortcomings in the protection of transgender people against discrimination: only 5 European countries recognise fear of prosecution on grounds of gender identity as a ground for international protection only 9 protect transgender people against transphobic hate crimes and only 15 provide protection against discrimination in employment on gender identity grounds.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine the situation of transgender people, consider the different forms of discrimination and transphobia that they face and give recommendations to all Council of Europe member States on how to improve their situation, in a human rights perspective.