In a region widely criticized for its human rights record, a handful of activists in Kyrgyzstan are attempting to enact significant reforms in how the state defends transgender individuals from harassment. Seizing on what they say is a liberal intermission in Kyrgyzstan’s transition from autocracy to parliamentary democracy – before elections this fall – they are fighting for the right to change the gender markers in their government-issued documents.
“Transgender individuals in Kyrgyzstan often struggle to find employment; many are unable to open bank accounts or sign legal documents because their appearances don’t match the gender in their passports,” says Dahn Pak, a transgender man.
Experts on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues say a clear procedural framework to change a person’s gender on paper would be the first step in ending the discrimination.
A Ministry of Health working group composed of legal and medical experts along with LGBT activists has discussed the changes since 2007.
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Dalton Bennett is a freelance journalist based in Bishkek.