May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), which aims to raise the visibility of LGBTIQ people and public awareness of LGBTIQ issues and discrimination and hate crimes against them, as well as prejudice caused by sexual orientation, with gender identity and gender self-expression. On the occasion of this day, today, May 16,  Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO organized a Trans Pride Conference, which aimed to discuss the possibility of implementing Trans Pride in Armenia, as well as present the latest research conducted by the organization and the book of stories created by LGBTIQ people, and present success stories of Trans individuals. The conference was attended by representatives of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Ministry of Justice, organizations of the field, and more than 70 members and supporters of the Trans LGBIQ community.


The Trans Pride Conference was opened with a welcome speech by Lilit Martirosyan, the founder, and president of the  Right Side NGO, who presented the legal victories and other successes of the organization over the past year, spoke about the increase in the level of violence and emphasized the need to increase trans visibility, which can be the first step in the implementation of Trans Pride in the near future.

The head of the political, press, and information department of the European Union delegation in Armenia, Mr. Jan PleŇ°inger, also made a welcome speech, stating that the protection of trans rights and the fight against discrimination are a priority for the European Union.


Then Milena Abrahamyan presented the Gender Legal Recognition research carried out with the funding of the Women’s Resource Center Armenia. The lack of clear regulations regarding legal gender recognition is one of the significant legal gaps for the trans community in Armenia today. The presented research was carried out by the Right Side NGO during the past year, studying not only the landscape of legal gender recognition and the needs of the trans community in Armenia, but also the experience of legislation and practice of Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Ukraine. Reforms of legal gender recognition are a priority for Right Side NGO, and in this direction, the organization is also implementing a regional project, the result of which will be the creation of a draft law on legal gender recognition.


The second part of the Trans Pride Conference was dedicated to the appreciation of the trans community and the presentation of success stories. Sevak Lusaber Kirakosyan presented his transvestite character, Sofik, through whom he carries out activism on social networks, Kuka Kasyan, president of the Global Foundation of Trans Rights Protection presented her knowledge of healthy lifestyle and diets, telling the audience about her favorite hobby, cooking. Kimberly Khachatrian, known to the public as a beauty influencer, presented the beauty brand she founded, which is already three years old. Finally, Monika Sarkisyan, the first Armenian transgender model, who represented Armenia in the Miss Trans Global beauty contest in 2021, spoke about her modeling career and activism.


The conference took place in a warm atmosphere of active discussions, during which the high level of discrimination and violence against Trans LGBI people in Armenia was also emphasized. Unfortunately, we must note that 2023 was also a year of trials and heavy losses, the hardest of which was the brutal murder of a transgender woman, Adriana, which deeply shocked the entire LGBTIQ community and supporters. It was followed by a wave of comments on social media containing hate speech, justifying the murder and glorifying the killer.


In the face of these obstacles, the continued work and determination of Trans and LGBIQ activists and organizations is even more important today. There are still many goals ahead of us: to achieve legal gender recognition, to create a shelter for Trans LGBIQ people, to ensure access to quality medical services for trans people, to create a rapid response fund, and of course to continue to raise visibility, thanks to which the implementation of Trans Pride will also be possible. The Trans Pride Conference served as a platform and starting point to take the first steps towards Trans Pride.  

At the end of the meeting, Lilit Martirosyan thanked all the Trans and LGBIQ activists who have taken on their shoulders the difficult work of fighting for equality and security and are paving the way for progress. We will continue our struggle and work to build together a country where every individual will be accepted and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

 May 16, 2024 Armenia Yerevan


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