Transgender people might be more visible than ever, but across much of Europe having their gender identity recognised by law remains either impossible, or beset by obstacles.
The map above, produced by the human rights organisation Transgender Europe, shows which countries offer a basic right to trans people: to have their gender identity legally recognised.
The countries in blue – which include the UK – are those where the state will recognise the sex you have transitioned to. The countries in brown offer no such recognition at all. And those in red demand that in order to get such official recognition, you have to be sterilised first – and then provide evidence of the procedure. Without that, you may have (for example) been living as a woman for years, but as far as the state is concerned, you are a man.
In total, of Europe's 51 independent states, 37 legally recognise the gender identity of trans people, but 23 of those demand proof of sterilisation first. A further 12 will only recognise the sex assigned at birth, forever disregarding the gender of a trans person.
The research by Transgender Europe also produced a wealth of more detailed findings about the differing rights of trans people across the continent. The group found that:
* Only Malta and Denmark recognise the gender of trans people without a mental health diagnosis of "Gender Identity Disorder" or some kind of psychological evaluation.
* Thirty-eight states have no specific recognition of transphobic hate crimes.
* Twenty-two states have discrimination protection for trans people – and seven of those introduced this in the last year.
The study, which can be downloaded here, compared policies and laws for trans people in 22 different areas, including asylum, employment discrimination, hate speech laws, goods and services discrimination, and whether official documents can be changed to register gender identity.
It concluded that four states (Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, and San Morino) had no policies or legal protections in any of the 22 categories. A further six (Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Ireland, Ukraine, and Lithuania) had fewer than five. As BuzzFeed News has reported, Russia has now begun to draft legislation that would reduce these protections further, by closing a legal loophole in its anti–same-sex marriage legislation to prohibit trans people from marrying.
The study also highlighted the states offering the best legal frameworks for trans people. The UK, Spain, Malta, Croatia, Belgium, and Germany had more than 17 of the 22 recommended policies in place, and Portugal and Norway had 15. No country, however, had all 22.
"Trans youth have the same need and right as their peers to grow up in a supporting and loving environment, but they face a multitude of disadvantages like exclusion, discrimination, and violence," said Alecs Recher, co-chair of Transgender Europe. "Protecting trans and gender-diverse children and youth, e.g. by making legal gender recognition accessible for them and by not labelling them as mentally ill, should be a primary concern for all.”
The report also examined the frequency of transphobic hate crimes, including violence and murder.
It found that in the last seven years, the murder of 94 trans and gender-nonconforming people has been reported across 14 countries. Of those killed, 12% were under the age of 20.
However, the overwhelming majority of reported murders of trans people since 2008 have taken place outside of Europe – especially in Brazil, but also elsewhere in the Americas, including the USA.
The research showed that shooting was the most common form of execution, followed by stabbing and beating.