At the end of May, a meeting of Trans People Working Group (TPWG) on HIV and Sexual Health in EECA was held, the purpose of which was to update the situation in the countries of the region and update the action plan for the coming year.
Despite some progress, the situation regarding trans people is deteriorating in many countries. Thus, in Kyrgyzstan, the Country Coordinating Mechanism to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was dissolved; activists from Sakartvelo note the increasing level of homophobia and transphobia in political rhetoric; while the "law on propaganda" and the "law on digital summons" have a direct or indirect negative effect on the lives of trans people in Russia.
These challenges, along with the difficulties that arise due to the war and migration, fundamentally change the context and require revision of approaches to advocacy work, which was the main focus of the meeting.
“The TPWG meeting in Tbilisi was very fruitful, in a friendly and cozy atmosphere. Due to the recent negative events and legal changes that took place in the region, this meeting was especially important to rally trans activists and provide a sense of unity. I was upset only by the fact that some of the TPWG participants couldn't take part in the meeting, as they were not allowed into the country at passport control. But moments like these remind us once again that it's very important to continue our work to create more favorable conditions for communities,” said Diana Aliyeva, TPWG member.
The activists identified the need to continue advocacy work on transgenderness depathologization as the main goal of their work, in particular, in the context of transition from ICD-10 to ICD-11.
“For me, as for a new member of the TPWG, the very fact that I became part of such a pool of experts in trans issues from the EECA region was very inspiring. This is a truly unique working group that covers all topics and issues related to health, rights, community building, security and development of the trans movement in the region. The plans that we discussed and developed are an opportunity to help everyone who is somehow involved in helping and supporting trans people. I believe in the productivity and efficiency of our team and I hope that very soon we'll be able to share new results of our work and new expert information that will be helpful for global change,” says Victoria Primak, trans activist, human rights activist.
The main outcome of the meeting was an updated work plan for 2023–2024, and soon the group plans to present an updated analysis of legal barriers for trans people in the countries of the region.
As the main areas of work for 2023–2024, the Trans* People Working Group chose the analysis of barriers to HIV services in NGOs for trans people aged 40+; analysis of barriers to access trans competent and trans sensitive services for trans migrants in the EECA region; analysis of ICD-11 implementation and other depathologization processes in the region.
“Summing up the activities of the Working Group for 2022, we once again confirmed that the TPWG, which is the only expert group of trans people in our region, once again did a tremendous job. This includes creating an online course on the international tool TRANSIT, developing lessons on trans competence for social workers at the start of their career, as well as creating the first ECOM documentary on the impact of the war in Ukraine on the lives of trans people in the region,” noted Elena German, Capacity Building Coordinator at ECOM.
“Impressions of the meeting are very positive. It's like putting a dead phone on charge, especially when you consider that you are charging from colleagues with vast experience and competence. The meeting was very fruitful and full of new ideas and vision. In addition, I was very pleased to meet new members of the working group. As a result of the meeting, I can definitely say that I'm 100% charged and my charge is now enough for the whole next year – until our next meeting. Thanks to ECOM and the entire TPWG for the opportunity to improve the lives of trans people,” shared Toni Sarasfati, TPWG member, "Tanadgoma".