Fourteen trans*activists from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, representing Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine, participated in the first face-to-face meeting of the EECA Regional Working Group of Trans*People on HIV and Sexual Health (RGT), which took place in Tallinn, Estonia on 18-19 August 2019. The meeting’s first day coincided with a special date for the trans*community – 20 years of the creation of the modern trans*flag.

It was a long-awaited, very valuable and highly appreciated gathering.

“For me personally, as a guest facilitator, it was important to see the group members’ proactive position and commitment to the principle of “Nothing about us, without us”. The safe, trans* friendly space in every way contributed to the constructive work of the group. At the meeting, the group’s mission, values, goals and objectives were developed to lay main foundation for further effective work,” – said Timur, facilitator of the RGT.

Anastasia Eva Domani, a participant from Ukraine, noted:

“For me, a face-to-face meeting is important, first of all, to personally get to know other fellow trans*people: this cannot be replaced by social networks, emails and video conferencing. We agreed on the basic procedures for the Group’s work – a start has been made! I will note such an important detail as setting up of a glossary of correct and outdated, stigmatizing terminology in the context of trans*people’s lives. As always, there were disputes, arguments of activists from different countries of EECA about the peculiarities of self-identification of trans*people. These discussions led to the crystallization and accuracy of each term. During work, we also outlined immediate tasks which we will implement starting the fall of 2019”.

For many, this meeting was the first platform for personal and professional development, a regional exchange of experience and information.

Participants reviewed the ECOM Strategic Plan in the context of trans*sensitization. The work on the recommendations for amendment was a necessary and productive step towards the cooperation of ECOM and wider trans*community.

“The meeting turned out to be rich and productive, but at the same time, humanly warm and sincere. I am very grateful to ECOM for the initiative to include trans*people in the work, the provided platform and resource support, for the trans*sensitivity and willingness to hear the voice of the trans*community,” said Anton Mackintosh, coordinator of the T-Action trans*initiative group.

 

“Finally, the first face-to-face meeting of the working group of trans*people took place! As a member of the working group and head of the organization for transgender people, Trans*Generation (Ukraine), I want to thank ECOM for this opportunity, as well as for its flexibility and willingness to change. Unfortunately, in many organizations and initiatives, the inclusion of the trans*community is still carried out on conditions set up by cis-people, on their ideas about what we need. Such approaches not only harm the work, but also undermine the trust and desire to cooperate. It was great to see that ECOM is practicing modern approaches, friendliness, openness to new experience and recognition of expertise in trans*issues directly behind the trans* community. I am sure that our cooperation will contribute to a tangible improvement in the quality of lives of trans*people in EECA in the near future!”, added Friedrich Chernyshev.

The Group plans to finalize its ToR, prepare a panel for the 3rd Regional Consultation on HIV among MSM and Trans*People in EECA and begin interviewing the coordinators and coordinators of best practices collected by ECOM.

Member of ECOM’s Steering Committee and RGT member Daniyar Orsekov noted that ECOM’s work is always very sensitive to issues of the trans*community. At the same time, ECOM is one of the instruments for influencing the region in matters of ICD-11, which will allow advocating for changes in the region using the new ICD.

The Regional Working Group of Trans*People is open to include new representatives from within ECOM’s members and partners. Currently, the group includes activists from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine. To join the group, please contact Elena German at elena@ecom.ngo or Timur Lisenko at lysenko.tymur@gmail.com