Transgender issues: Belgians enduring violence, discrimination, and difficulties finding work
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Belgium still has a lot of work to do in the fight against violence and discrimination and for equal access to work for transgender people, pointed out, on Wednesday, the first European study comparing the situation of transgender persons in various countries. 6,579 people identifying themselves as transgender, from 28 different countries took part in the study. “One of the main conclusions of the Fundamental Rights Agency study is that 50% of participants have at some point felt discriminated against when looking for work. This led them to hide their sexuality or their identity,” explains Joz Motmans from the Centre for Sexology and Gender Identity Issues at UZ Ghent (university hospital).
Almost one in 3 transgender people generally say they are discriminated against when looking for work in Europe, but the figure reaches 53% in Belgium, the highest in Europe. “This may be explained by the fact that more transgender people in Belgium than in other countries actually tried to find employment,” according to Mr. Motmans, who believes that transgender people can be themselves more openly in Belgium and the Netherlands. “It’s a vicious circle.
A government should not just encourage people to be themselves, but should also keep on top of anti-discriminatory legislation.” Extending the anti-discrimination law to gender identity and gender expression is an excellent step forward in that respect however, points out the researcher. 42% of European transgender people face the issue of violence.
The figures also show that in comparison with other European countries, Belgium offers better access to health services for transgender people, and only 15% feel discriminated against in the health arena. This is the 4th best score across Europe.
The first European conference for transgender healthcare will take place in Ghent from March 12th to March 14th. “Transgender Health Care in Europe” will bring together doctors, specialists and researchers in various fields in order to talk about how to improve transgender healthcare, explained UZ Ghent.