Lilit Martirosyan is a champion of transgender rights in Armenia. This interview was taken from the website ngngo:
“New Generation” Humanitarian NGO talked to the president of the “Rights Side” NGO, Lilit Martirosyan.
What was the main aim for establishing the “Rights Side” human rights defender NGO?
There are several organizations that address the issues of LGBT people in Armenia but there is a special targeted T group: transgender people. Transgender people are more vulnerable from legal, psychological, social and other sides.
The primary and main aim of the “Rights Side” human rights defender NGO is to address the issues of the transgender people in Armenia.
Being the representative of the community (I am a transgender person) I personally understand what kind of problems and gaps exist, particularly in the legal sphere: police, other state institutions, passport related issues, etc. There are also problems related to mental health and well-being of transgender persons: they face isolation, unfair treatment by their families, state bodies, society as a whole.
The main objective of the organization is protection of human rights of transgender people on national and international levels.
Did any organizations express their readiness to support and cooperate with you?
Yes. Except the support in documentation, legal and financial aspects “New Generation” Humanitarian NGO has been with us since the day of the organization’s establishment and now helps us to build our capacity and become stronger.
There are also several international organizations which try to support us.
“New Generation” Humanitarian NGO is one those unique NGOs that has been cooperating with our organization in order to jointly fight and protect the human rights of transgender people.
What are the future steps and projects?
There are projects and ideas for projects but I wouldn’t like to talk about them now. I don’t want to open the brackets for now. The only thing that I can mention now is that the main direction of all projects and ideas is protection of human rights of transgender people on national level.
The organization may face many challenges. How are you going to overcome them?
First of all the society doesn’t know what the word “transgender” means.
The primary problem of transgender people which is also the problem of our organization is absence of the legislation. We want to achieve such legislative changes by which transgender people will be protected.
What kind of projects are you going to implement in order to raise the issues of transgender persons?
The society should understand who transgender persons are and which their problems are. Nowadays no one knows about the existing problems. We have many examples of suicides; we have many transgender people that have faced different problems in the legal sphere. First of all we must speak up and explain that we exist and we have problems which have to be solved.
The word “transgender” is itself an unknown word in the Armenia society. It is time to become visible to the society.
We wanted to show that by the recently conducted flash-mob which was called “We exist”.
We are currently preparing for a big seminar for representatives of NGOs and other sectors. The seminar is about the problems of the transgender community, terminology in order to reach a broader group of people for showing them that we exist and we are equal members of the society.
On January 24, 2016 the “Rights Side” Human Rights Defender NGO conducted a flash-mob in frames of the “We Exist” project.
On February 11, 2016 “New Generation” Humamnitarian NGO published the “Needs of sex reassignment surgery of transgender people: assessment of legal barriers“ report which is currently avilable only in Armenian. The “Rights Side” NGO supported during the preparation of the report.