Being trans still a crime in many countries: report

Trans people are still criminalised in over a dozen countries and targeted by the law in many more, a new report has revealed.

International LGBTIQ federation ILGA World today released its third annual Trans Legal Mapping Report, which addresses the legal status of trans people around the world.

“To date, at least 13 UN Member States worldwide explicitly criminalise trans persons, but we know that a much wider range of laws is used to target them in many more countries”, said Zhan Chiam, coordinator and co-author of the report.

“Evidence collected from communities on the ground highlights how measures related to public nuisance, indecency, morality, loitering, sex work-related offences, and consensual same-sex activity amongst others are actively deployed for the same purpose.

“The systemic targeting of trans people using seemingly innocuous laws is just as damaging as so-called ‘cross dressing’ regulations which overtly target gender expressions.”

While States with explicit criminalisation deny trans persons their right to be who they are, others have made strides toward legal gender recognition based solely on self-determination.

Since 2018, nine additional UN member States, or jurisdictions within them, have allowed people to change their name and gender marker in official registries and documents without oppressive conditions such as forced sterilisation, divorce, or psychiatric confinement.

However, these requirements remain a reality for the majority of trans people around the world.

Trans organising has been at a turning point since the World Health Assembly approved and adopted the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), clearly stating that being trans or gender diverse is not a mental disorder.

In Europe, Belgium, France, Greece, Luxembourg, and Portugal now have non-medical, non-pathologising laws on gender marker change.

In Latin America, Brazil, Chile, and Costa Rica have allowed gender marker changes through a self-determination model.

Some Australian states, Costa Rica, and most of Canada now allow removing gender markers altogether.

These advances, however, have come with considerable backlash.

“In every region of the world where we have been documenting legal gender recognition, regressions have occurred, often in the form of so-called ‘gender ideology’, the emergence of exclusionary movements, and right-wing politicians positing LGBT against national identities,” said Chiam.

Together with a wave of violence against trans people, these attacks have all had detrimental effects on the community, said Jabulani Pereira, Chair of the Trans Committee at ILGA World.

“It is a difficult time for trans persons globally, which is reflected in the regression or stagnation in legal gender recognition rights in every continent,” said Pereira.

“We continue to push against repressive state laws, and at the same time we will need many more studies that celebrate our challenges and gains in our right to self-determination, our right to gender-affirming care and to live in a world that does not systemically and physically harm us.”

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