Stronger action needed to help combat transphobia

Trans people across the EU are often marginalised, and live in isolation or fear, as FRA research has shown. Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November is a day to remember the suffering transphobia has caused and a time to raise awareness of the need to better protect the rights of trans people.

Last year, FRA’s report ‘Being Trans in the European Union’ pointed to how trans people experience frequent discrimination and victimisation, harassment and disrespect. It drew on the responses to FRA’s wider EU survey on hate crime and discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people.

For example, the results showed how trans people often suffer repeat incidences of violence: Over two in five trans victims of violence, had been attacked three or more times in the year before they were surveyed. One third of trans respondents avoided expressing their gender identity through the way they look or dress for fear of being assaulted, threatened or harassed. Half of the trans respondents also avoid public places, like on the street, in squares or in parking lots, because of these fears.

Such findings point to the need to improve policies to combat hate-motivated violence and harassment. This includes actions to prevent transphobic hate crime and improve awareness among the police of how to deal with such hate crime.

This need is underlined by FRA research into the views of public officials, the results of which should be available soon. It shows how some law enforcement officials do not recognise or underestimate the scale and nature of transphobic hate crime and discrimination. It also revealed prejudice and transphobia among law enforcement officials in some Member States.

Strengthening legal protection against transphobic hate crime is also needed. According to FRA’s EU-wide comparative legal research into LGBTI hate crime and discrimination that should be made public soon, only 8 EU Member States explicitly prohibit transphobic hate crime in their criminal codes. This coupled with widespread under-reporting and under-recording of hate crime against trans people poses a challenge for Member States as it hinders the development of targeted actions to combat such crimes.

Already the EU Victims’ Directive is a step in the right direction. Once implemented by all Member States, it should offer victims, targeted and well-resourced support. However, as FRA research shows much still remains to be done to help combat the violence and abuse many trans people often face in society today.