The Istanbul Convention excludes transsexuals

by Ilaria Lonigro - 2013.05.31
The Istanbul Convention excludes transsexuals
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The Istanbul Convention will help prevent gender violence against women and domestic violence against women and children, but not gender and domestic violence against transsexuals. Yet, these people are those who most suffer gender discrimination in Italy, starting with the impossibility of finding a job.

The heart of the controversy lies in Art. 3 – focused on definitions – and particularly in a word: "gender". "The term “gender” – as you can read in the Convention text – is referred to as socially-built roles, behaviour, activities and attributes that a specific society judges appropriate for women and men." If the separating line is in the roles that our society considers as “appropriate", transsexuals are obviously excluded by the treaty introduced by the European Council in Istanbul in 2011 and today ratified by 4 countries: Albania, Montenegro, Portugal and Turkey. Italy will join them soon, as soon as the convention will be voted by the upper-chamber of parliament, or senate.

Some people, like MP Paola Binetti, of the Civil Choice party (Scelta Civica), set an agenda against the introduction of the term “gender”: "In a positive climate, my agenda was approved (...) Actually, we didn’t feel the need to introduce the notion of gender in a treaty which draws attention on women, as individuals clearly opposed to men: the first as victims, the latter as attackers."

Is the Istanbul convention a half-completed conquest then? We interviewed Porpora Marcasciano, National President of M.I.T. (Transsexual Identity Movement).

What’s your view on the controversy over the notion of “gender”?

Unfortunately, Italy suffers a little secular culture that jeopardizes the country’s life. And it ranks first in Europe for violence against transsexuals. The question is: why? There are no genetic reasons behind it, but a rooted cultural bias.

How ranks gender in our legal system?

Gender is either male or female, that’s it. Gender definition in Italy has remained unchanged.

And abroad?

Many other countries, especially in Northern Europe, have certainly taken into account gender variations. Poland is also taking action on this matter. Unfortunately, this is not the case of Italy and of all those countries where laity is not complete.

Would you like to ask something to our Minister for Equal Opportunities, Josefa Idem?

I have the greatest respect for Josefa Idem and I’d invite her to continue what she has already started, demonstrating renewal. Transsexual women are excluded from the job market and constantly exposed to violence. It’s a huge problem and we can’t ignore it. I’d ask our Minister to broaden the horizons to identity and gender, because we can’t exclude entire categories and genders from our legislation. I hope that she’ll continue along the same lines and wish her good luck!

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