A Human Rights Organization has opened for the transgenders.
Lilit Martirosyan, who had sex change, explains it using 2 pieces of candy: one piece is a homosexual, the other a transgender and both go job hunting. Physically they look alike, but the pitch of the transgender’s voice gives away the identity and as a result the transgender does not get the job.
The 24 year old Lilit, who had graduated from the vocal-jazz department of the Conservatory, tells of similar examples in the field of education where the homosexuals attend classes in the clothes of their choice but when the transgender man attends classes in a women’s clothing… “Can you fathom what would happen in the University?”, asks Lilit who avoided wearing the clothes she really wanted to put on.
The double vulnerability of being a transgender motivated Lilit to establish a Human Right’s Organization for the Transgenders in 2015 and called it “On the side of the Law” NGO. Its purpose is to make Armenia a safe country for the transgenders. “On the side of the Law, I mean, all of us need to side with the rights of humans”, she explains.
The Organization is made up of 4 members and “an army of volunteers” as she puts it.
“There is a doctor in our team, and a dancer. We are now preparing to approach the donors with a new plan. It is called the “transgender development program” where we can teach dance with the help of our members, teach vocalization and song, cooking, and medicine. We try to bring the transgenders out of the suppressive and oppressive atmosphere they are in their homes.”
Apart from the transgender development program, they will also offer psychological, social, legal and educational services.
This way, the Organization aims to free the sexual services the transgenders provide and even though Lilit is not against people doing the job they want, adds that a lot of transgenders work in the sex trade to make a living and a lot of them ask the Organization to show them a way out of this situation because their lives are in danger doing what they do.
“There have been many incidents of stabbings, of scaring, so they keep guns with them. And I have with me approximately more than 27 police issued documents”, says Lilit and notes that because of the sex trade workers in the “Park of the Gay”, people today know about the existence of the transgenders.
“The guys in the Park of the Gay made the public understand, although with mistaken notions at first, who a transgender was; but at the end it was understood that a transgender is a man in a woman’s clothing. Can you picture how many men pass by the park and they make a double take and understand what they saw with their own eyes. People set up, people stood by beatings, people had a lot to prove.”
Lilit’s life, too, was full of violence. She remembers how they stopped her and her girlfriend, beat them up; she recalls two years ago when she had to go to the hospital for her breast implants. This displeased the hospital security guards who then beat her and her girlfriend up.
But those who were guilty were never punished because the lawyers and the attorneys didn’t want to defend the interests of the transgenders and not only that, they were not paid for their services. And for that reason, Lilit is now studying law in addition to legislative obstacles relating to transgender people, sex change operations and hormonal therapy in Armenia because of which the transgenders have sex changes done abroad.
“Transgender is a huge concept. A man can look at himself in the mirror and say that he is a transgender, that is a psycho-social condition of man (called transvestite,ed.).
The transsexuals are those people who want the whole of their psychological feelings and their bodies to match with that psychological state (by way of sex change operation and hormonal therapy sessions, ed.)”
The desire to match man’s own mental state is discriminated against as well as harassed and violated in Armenia. That is why many transgenders try to leave the country so that they can sort their lives in such countries which better understand who transgenders are.
There are many reasons as to why Lilit didn’t want to leave Armenia like many other transgenders and live a better life abroad. Instead she aimed at defending the rights of her and her community in a risky struggle. First of all, she cannot live outside of Armenia. “The voice from afar sounds very sweet. I had gone to Istanbul, but I wanted to come back here, because I couldn’t stay abroad for a long time.”The other reason is she wants to bring in changes for the Armenian transgenders in Armenia. “We need to make Armenia a safe and comfortable place for its transgenders so that they wouldn’t wish to leave their country.”
To achieve her goals, Lilit is convinced that one needs to take risks. She is certain that if there is no risk, there won’t be any changes possible. “ Don’t be surprised when you see me with my team walking the streets with the transgender flag in our hands. “
Translated by Marina Nercessian