Statement by ERA and its Member Organisations regarding the rise of trans-exclusion
and anti-gender narratives in the region of Western Balkans
We are closely following the statements of trans activists and transfeminist organisations, as well as other feminist and LGBTI organisations in Croatia and the region, which were sparked by the appointment of the new director of the Centre for Women’s Studies.
The appointment of Dorotea Šušak as a new director of the Centre was a spark that had a domino effect on the narratives present in the region of Western Balkans. Her allies have voiced out their firm beliefs in biological essentialism’s exclusionary stance by contributing to the erasure of realities and experiences of people who are not women by calling them women, and of people who are not men by calling them men. The public statements Šušak gives is yet another example of the dangerous influence that academia has in igniting trans exclusionary narratives in broader public which further endangers the lives of trans people. Undoubtedly, this event encouraged others to occupy the public discourse with trans exclusionary interpretation of feminism and a denial of the right to self-determination. Furthermore, it fueled the already strong anti-gender, and anti-trans narrative present globally and in the region of Western Balkans. The ongoing public narratives are full of trans-exclusionary language, attacks, and erasure of trans realities. This is not just an erasure in language but a contribution to the systemic discrimination and violence trans people already face in society placing yet another obstacle in the struggles of trans people and movements to live their lives in dignity and free of all forms of violence and discrimination.
Transgender and gender-variant people are among the most marginalised in our region facing intersectional and multiple discrimination limiting their access to the most basic rights: health, employment, housing and legal gender recognition.
The fight for advancing transgender and gender diverse people’s rights is present in all parts of ERA’s agenda. We stand firmly against all forms of cissexism and in solidarity with all trans, queer, non-binary, gender variant/non-conforming/diverse people in their struggles for dignity, justice and equity. Thus, in November 2019 the ERA Trans, Non-Binary and Intersex Caucus was established to provide a platform for self-empowerment and self-representation of all transgender, gender diverse and intersex people in the region.
We note the statement given by the Center for Women’s Studies referring to their past attempts to include transfeminism in their programmes. Therefore, we invite the Center’s academics as well as the broader feminist community to confirm their dedication against exclusion within the feminist movement and to join in a dialogue with trans people to critically rethink the effects that trans exclusionary feminism has on trans communities, to take into account the concerns raised by the transfeminist movement and to join in condemnation of all cissexist and trans-exclusionary interpretations of feminism.
The Gender Principle of ERA understands gender as a socially constructed abstract term which evolves in time, space, social and political contexts. As part of our commitment to self-determination and decolonising bodily oppressions we are permanently committed and open to recognizing gender identities that emerge and that our communities claim within their socio political contexts. ERA does not privilege any one gender identity or expression over another, including those communities who do not have specific terms to describe who they are.
ERA - LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Skopje/LGBTI Support Centre
Center for Social Group Development - CSGD
LGBT centar Split
Trans Mreža Balkan
Free Colors Association
Janset Kalan, Advisory Committee Member
AS - Center for the Empowerment Youth of people who are living with HIV and AIDS
Young LGBTI+ Association
Da se zna!
Note: ERA will uprade the list of signatures tomorrow (25.12.2020) at 10am, 12pm and 18pm