EVENTS ~ 16 Days of Activism
GATE Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
South Africa, 26 November 2013
GATE joins today a new commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
We note with deep concern and rejection that trans* women continue to be, one of the most constant but invisible targets of gendered violence that strikes with particular virulence, especially against trans* sex workers, trans* women in prison or other detention facilities, trans* women of color, trans* women in areas of armed conflict, occupation or natural disasters, trans* women from indigenous populations, refugees and migrants, trans* women with HIV and human rights defenders.
Violence against women also severely affects trans* and gender-variant girls and adolescents in different parts of the world, where their identity and gender expression provoke familiar and communitarian violence and expulsion, as well as the exclusion of health and educational systems. Many trans* and gender variant girls and teenagers are homeless, surviving in hostile shelters or in custody. Familiar and social rejection made them vulnerable to sexual assault, institutional violence, substances abuse, HIV and suicide. Lack of access to gender affirming procedures often implies an increased health risk associated with use of unsafe silicone injections and hormones without clinical supervision.
Gender violence also affects gender variant and trans* boys and men, who are discriminated against, excluded and punished in order to impose on them a gender identity and expression compatible with their assignment at birth as females –including through sexual and reproductive violence. This is especially true in places where it is either impossible or unsafe for them to live as men or other gender expressions outside the societal norm for their birth-assigned gender.
Growing media attention on trans* childhood very often produces and reproduces naturalized forms of exposure that constitute another form of violence against trans* children that urgently needs to be dismantled. The current pathologization of gender diversity in childhood is a particularly insidious form of gendered violence, as it elevates gender stereotypes to the rank of mental health indicators. Therefore, diagnoses become a normative way of ensuring the reproduction of these stereotypes through its medicalized imposition in childhood. GATE calls today to firmly reject all forms of pathologization of gender diversity in childhood.
Transphobic violence keeps hurting and killing trans* women around the world, and we urge states to prevent, investigate and remediate those acts of violence. However, we feel that it is necessary to stress the equally urgent need of legal reform –to decriminalize gender identity, gender expression and bodily diversity, to remove requirements incompatible with human rights standard to access gender recognition (such as sterilization, irreversible bodily modifications, divorce and psychiatric diagnosis), to grant access to gender-affirming and harm-reduction health care and to provide protection against discrimination.
Finally, GATE wants to acknowledge and congratulate all trans* activists who work, everyday and everywhere– often risking their lives over and over again to make a world without gender violence possible.
Mauro Cabral & Justus Eisfeld
GATE - Global Action for Trans* Equality