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Report on GLIFAA Lunch for Romanian Transgender Equality Activist
Howdy all! In this week's blog, we thought we would share the following report from one of our members about a recent happening. Kay, a 30-year Foreign Service Officer, provided us the following. Enjoy!
In August, GLIFAA partnered with our colleagues in Public Diplomacy and Embassy Bucharest to host a lunch for Irina Nita, director of the Romanian LGBT organization, ACCEPT. Irina was in Washington as part of an International Visitor Leadership program grant to study LGBT, and particularly the T, movement in the United States. Following her week-long stay in Washington, Irina traveled on to San Francisco and New York.
Irina’s schedule in Washington included meetings with several LGBT groups and was highlighted by a visit with the Congressional LGBT caucus. At Irina's request, the GLIFAA post rep in Bucharest arranged a number of Washington meetings related specifically to transgender rights. GLIFAA also sponsored a luncheon for Irina hosted by a GLIFAA member where she met a cross section of T persons and helping professionals. Five male to female (MtF) persons represented the Transgender Education Association (TGEA) and the Metro Area Gender Identity Connection (MAGIC). In addition Ellen Warren, a well known therapist specializing in gender issues was present. Mara Kiesling, founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, appeared as a surprise guest. Mara kindly agreed to attend when the 5.8 earthquake earlier in the week forced the cancelation of her scheduled meeting with Irina.
Irina briefed the group on the status of the LGBT and specifically the T movement in Romania. She observed that few in Romania are familiar with T issues and that the situation “is like that in the US 50 years ago.” This lack of knowledge is especially true in the medical community where many Ts initially turn to explore their gender dysphoria. She found heartening the relatively widespread access to information, including the standards of care developed by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), in the United States. She also described her entire trip as “a fairy tale” of which she never could have conceived.
The T women present told their stories of transition and offered to extend the help of their organizations to Romanian Ts. Irina replied that simply being able to recount the current status of Ts in the United States would help to gain greater understanding for Romanian Ts. This was especially important as Romania rushed to catch up with the rest of the European Union in LGBT rights. Mara Kiesling provided Irina with several contacts within the European T movement. The T women present also agreed to maintain contact with their Romanian brothers and sisters through ACCEPT.
This was an important initiative for GLIFAA as we begin to focus increasingly on rights for T people within the foreign affairs agencies. Just in the last year we have seen an LES in a south Asian nation transition with the support of the embassy. GLIFAA worked hard to ensure recognition of gender identification as a protected category and establish the State Department’s “standards of care” for workplace transition for T employees. GLIFAA will do its best to ensure that the United States, as represented by our employees at home and overseas, sets the example for a workplace and an environment where everyone is free to be themselves without any form of discrimination, including that based on gender identification.