Transgender people’s rights under EU law are protected in 4 areas: access to and supply of goods and services, access to employment and social security, crime victims’ rights, and right to request asylum. However, Lithuania is failing to meet its obligations to transgender people. According to the international organization TGEU, which has updated its annual Transgender Rights Index and Map, Lithuania scored 4 points out of 30 this year, with only three European Union countries were rated lower than Lithuania: Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Indeed, there are administrative and judicial processes for changing personal names and gender marks on documents; surgical intervention is not mandatory in order to change documents; also, mandatory sterilization is not required for those wishing to change their gender marks on documents. Nonetheless, Lithuania complies with only these 4 points out of 30 indicators. Therefore, the statistics show how concerning the situation of transgender people in the country is. It’s disappointing to see how much effort is devoted by some members of society, including politicians, to spread misleading information and deny the need to ensure transgender people’s rights. According to Akvilė Giniotaitė, a gender education expert at “Diversity and Education House”,all this energy and effort could be put to focus on finding solutions and answers on how to create social structures in such a way that they would help transgender people to be full members of society.
In regards to the right to recognition of gender identity, it must be noted that the 2007 decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of L. versus Lithuania, which established a legal loophole that precludes the practical implementation of the right to recognition of gender identity, still hasn’t been implemented, even though the draft law was prepared in 2017. Also, it’s important to mention that one of the legal priorities of the current Government was to ensure the execution of the ECHR judgment in the aforementioned case by the end of 2023 at the latest. However, this process remains stagnant and to this day, a person’s gender identity can be legally recognized through a court procedure.
Transgender people and mental health
There is a lack of accurate data about the mental health of transgender people in Lithuania. However, organizations defending transgender people’s rights often highlight that transgender people in Lithuania cannot feel safe and live their lives to the fullest, because of the existing norms of cis-normative society. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), LGBTQI+ people are less likely to access health services and engage with healthcare workers due to stigma and discrimination which can result in negative physical and mental health outcomes. Moreover, findings of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) survey on LGBTI revealed that 55% of trans respondents feel discriminated against when looking for housing, accessing healthcare, or social services. The aforementioned data shows that it is necessary to implement more transgender-friendly measures in such areas as employment, healthcare, education, access to goods and services as well as housing, that way improving transgender people’s protection and their mental health.
Lithuania scoring 4 points out of 30 for transgender people’s rights indicates a very low level of legal and social protection for transgender people which negatively affects their mental health. This data shows the urgent need for political reforms and policies that protect and affirm the rights of transgender people. Lithuania could enhance the rights of transgender people by implementing better legal protection mechanisms, spreading educational campaigns as well as following and truly listening to the recommendations of the LGBTQ+ organizations in the country.
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