The life of trans women in Armenia
In the Republic of Armenia, Man is the highest value, everyone is granted equal rights. This is mentioned in the third article of the Armenian Constitution.
Vulnerable groups exist in every country,Just like in Armenia and because of their sexual orientation or gender identity their rights are frequently violated.
Christina (name changed) is a 27-year-old transgender woman, her family found out about her gender identity when she was 15, “they kept me in isolation for 14 days, they hoped that I would change. Then I convinced them that their beliefs were not true so that I could escape”. After that, Christina left her family and never returned. Now Christina works as a sex worker. “I can’t find another job because of my gender identity, employers refuse to work with me.”
According to lawyer Anahit Mkrtchyan, there is an article in the Labor Code about the prohibition of discrimination, but it doesn’t work. “We can’t hold the employer accountable, because when they know, that they are dealing with a transgender person, they put a different reason in their dismissal application.” According to Christina, they are destined for violence, stigma, and discrimination in Armenia. “Recently, two people sexually abused me against my will, and when I reported to the police I didn’t receive a response, then I went to the police and complained about what happened, but again, as always, the case was closed and the reason was that I am a trans person.”
According to Nora, a 21-year-old transgender person, she was last abused to violence on October 31, 2019, during Halloween. “My friends and I went outdoors to celebrate the holiday. Several homophobes attacked us, stating that we were trans people. “According to Nora, they reported to the police, but, as usual, there was no response. The lawyer notes, that in such cases, when the police see a transgender person reporting to them, they don’t proceed with the case, they terminate it immediately, saying that there aren’t enough grounds to initiate the case.
In response to our inquiry sent to the Police of the Republic of Armenia, to know how many criminal cases have been initiated against transgender people over the last year and how many of them have been terminated, the Chief of the Police Headquarters of the Republic of Armenia, Police Colonel Armen Ghukasyan noted, that the RA Police doesn’t keep separate records on transgender people and their crimes. Transgender people in Armenia aren’t fully protected by law, because no separate law on discrimination prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
According to Anahit Mkrtchyan, the only legislative point that the representatives of the LGBT community can defend to some extent is the Article 29 of the RA Constitution, which also states that discrimination is prohibited based on social or other circumstances.
Transgender Nora says she had faced psychological, physical, and financial violence by her family, she ran away from home when she was just 18 years old. “In the past, I was upset about the fact that my society may not accept me. It’s very difficult to adapt to the fact that you are not a full member of society because of your gender identity.”
On May 25, 2019, with the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases approved by the World Health Organization, gender inconvenience was removed from the list of mental disorders and moved to the section of sexual health.
According to lawyer Anahit Mkrtchyan, trans people in Armenia cannot undergo sex reassignment surgery, because there is no legal permission for that. “the another problem is with the passports, in extreme cases, they can change their names, surnamse, and pictures, but not the gender, which also becomes a reason for discrimination.”
Transgender people in Armenia remain unacceptable to the public. Target groups often have difficulties with different groups of society, which can have good and bad sides, but either way, the law should be paramount and equal for all.
LGBT – Stands for Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
Transgender – denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
Heterosexual – A person sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex.
Homophobe – a person with a dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people.
The compilation and publication of this material has become possible within the framework of the project on Capacity Building and Empowerment for Protection of LGBTI Human Rights in Armenia implemented by New Generation Humanitarian NGO with the financial support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of New Generation Humanitarian NGO or the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.