Bilitis has been supporting the informal Trans Activists Group (TIA) for consolidating and holding regular live meetings since 2017.
To join the T.I.A meetings, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The mission of T.I.A group is to achieve equality and non-discrimination of trans and intersex people in Bulgaria, access to adequate health-care, free and fast administrative procedure for gender recognition, based on self-identification. With the help of Bilitis serving as a mentor, TIA received financial support from the International Trans Fund in 2017, which was an emancipating factor for stepping off the online “safe” space into the offline world. The group began regular community meetings in October 2017, and this contributed to increasing the number of group members to over 80 in Facebook, and of those that regularly attend the offline meetings – around 15. TIA took part in a focus group discussion on the barriers, which LGBTI people face in the health sphere, organized by Bilitis within the Health4LGBTI Project, and spoke openly about the barriers faced by trans people. The topics of the community meetings were selected in a bottom-up way with the participation of the Facebook group members.
When the first steps towards community building were made, TIA group members began realizing that there is still a long way to go. Most of the people coming to our meetings are not “out” to their colleagues, and none of them is ready to speak in the mass media. They feel the need to become a visible advocate for trans people’s rights, but growing their own leaders will take time.
TIA group is trans-led, and all of the people who come to the community meetings self-identify as trans. However, they work in close collaboration with Pol Naidenov, the first visible intersex rights activist in Bulgaria, who has already achieved remarkable media presence. Pol has helped to frame the trans community development work in a strategic way. The regular bi-monthly topic-based discussion events and workshops engaged the trans people in sharing, needs assessment of the trans movement, goal setting, and planning specific actions, which are trans-led.
The European international organized intersex movement has an 8-year history in which Billitis has its place. Our co-chair Pol Naidenov is one of OII-Europe, as well as among the co-authors of the fundamental Malta Declaration, which outlines the goals set by the Intersex movement and activists in achieving the de-pathologization and protection of human rights of intersex children and adults.
The main activities in the field of protection of the rights of intersex people are:
Awareness raising: Pol Naidenov has active media presence for raising awareness on intersex issues. In the beginning of 2018, Bilitis faced the need to develop “crisis communication strategy” to deal with the crisis created by the campaign against the ratification of the The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The anti-campaigners created the fake news that the Convention is imposing the concept of “third gender” in mainstream society. As a result, mass media began inviting Pol on a daily basis to comment on the actual meaning of “gender” and “third gender”, and he became one of the outspoken defenders of the Istanbul Convention in Bulgaria.
Community building and individual support to intersex people: The TIA group, initially created by trans people, now involves some intersex people as well. The intersex and trans members of the group have identified common challenges to deal with: access to adequate health care; legal gender recognition; building social awareness. Bilitis also provided individual consultations and targeted support to intersex people. Pol Naidenov was directly approached by several intersex people from around the country who were in need of health care, psychological support, or were looking for information on legal gender recognition.
Development of online and printed resources on intersex: The Handbook “Standing up for the Rights of Intersex People, How Can You Help?” developed by OII Europe and ILGA Europe was translated and published in Bulgarian language, also available online (link към “Публикации”). Тhe Handbook for Parents of Intersex Children, which has been developed by OII Europe was translated and will be published soon.