Intrusive questions, diagnosis of mental illness, proof of divorce, proof of sterilization: that's the "nightmare" trans people in 34 European countries must face if they want to obtain legal documentation that reflects their authentic gender.
A new video from trans rights group Transgender Europe brings this harsh reality into unflinching light, hoping to end the widespread but outdated practice, which was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights last year.
Shot largely from the point-of-view of a trans protagonist and dark in tone, the video allows the viewer a fictional "insider" look at interactions with a gender therapist, government official, a judge granting a divorce, and a surgical team. The impersonal government officials and healthcare workers are juxtaposed against the tearful eyes of a newly divorced spouse, whose expression suggests the pain of being forced to legally separate in order for their trans spouse to live fully in their affirmed gender.
Transgender Europe says in a statement that they created the video to draw attention to how difficult and humilitating it is for most trans Europeans to obtain correct legal documentation, with most countries requiring "invasive and abusive requirements that violate [trans citizens'] human rights."
As a result of these practices, or in protest of them, most trans Europeans have legal IDs that do not show their true gender, which creates problems while traveling, opening bank accounts, and finding housing, according to TGEU. Trans Europeans can also become susceptible to violence when their inaccurate ID "outs" them.
TGEU has been generating public awareness campaigns, legal and community actions, and research since 2005, working to combat these issues, which are still present in countries that include Spain, Russia, Turkey, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.