Greece is Waging a Horrifying War on Transgender Women

Members of the European Parliament last week condemned what appears to be a systematic attack on trans citizens by Greece’s authorities.

Members of the European Parliament have issued strong statements against Greek police who, based on witness testimony and strong evidence, have been carrying out systematic arrests against trans women and detaining them without cause.

The first reported instance of this reportedly dates to August of 2012 when, without justification, police in Athens arrested and detained 25 transgender women in just one night. Those women were forced to submit to HIV tests under a new provision that allows forced HIV screenings as a matter of public health — more on that later. Those women were later released without charge.

By itself, this is a horrifying breech of human rights, and it now appears to have happened again and this time in a more sustained manner. Reports say that throughout June, Thessaloniki police, under the pretext of ID verification operations, have made sweeping arrests of trans citizens, later justifying this under suspicion that those arrested were in fact sex workers and therefore public health risks.

During these arrests and subsequent periods of detainment, the trans women in question report police harassment and human rights infractions.

The women were later found not guilty of all charges.

Furthermore, on the night of June 4, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights reports that lawyer Electra Koutra, acting to defend the women, was also arrested when she attended the police station where the women were being held. The reason for her arrest has not been given.

Raül Romeva i Rueda MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, is quoted as saying, “Too often trans people remain easy victims: they are visible, and somehow thugs — including in police uniforms — think they have a licence to harass anyone who doesn’t fit traditional gender appearances.

“Public health concerns,” he went on, “must be answered with due respect for all citizens and their integrity.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, also Vice-President of the Intergroup, adds that this should spur the EU to tighten its discrimination laws, saying, “This is exactly why the European Union needs to include homophobic and transphobic hate speech and hate crime in its review of EU hate speech laws.”

Veld went on to say, however, that with the current conservative EU panel, action is unlikely within the next year.

The Greek Transgender Support Association contends that this might be a wider problem dating back to at least late May, when trans women had been arrested under the pretext, but no evidence, of them being sex workers, detained for up to four hours without charge and often forced to endure what the GTSA describes as humiliation from the authorities.

Furthermore, the GTSA contends that when those women did attempt a formal complaint, they were threatened legal action. Another report alleges that while in custody, a number of women were told by the police that if they did not “return to normal,” legal proceedings would be initiated on grounds of indecent behavior in public — despite no evidence any of the women had engaged in such.

MEPs have already begun the process of an investigation into the legalization of forced HIV testing in Greece, which appears to have enabled this kind of police action.

The actual provision dates back to just before the May 2012 election. Before its suspension, it resulted in “hundreds” of women being arrested under the pretext of suspicion of prostitution, saw them detained for several weeks and forced to undergo HIV tests.

Of that group, seventeen who were actually found to be HIV positive are then said to have had their personal details and photos circulated in the media under the guise of protecting public health.

New health minister Adonis Georgiadis has now reintroduced the policy.

This comes amid Greece’s economic woes that have left large numbers of children starving, and such a sharp turn to the ideological right that there are very real concerns of fascist political groups, and all the racism and intolerance that comes with it, gaining ground to a point where they become the country’s overwhelming political powers.

Image credit: Thinkstock.


Ashley D.
Ashley D.4 years ago

Are transgender people born?

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

Shame on you Greece!

Mary ann S.
mary ann s4 years ago

So very sad. You know when people are born and if they knew when they got older and they would be treated poorly in or world for something they could do nothing about. Do you think they would want to climb back in the womb?

James K.
James Kauzlarich4 years ago

(Continued from the below post.)

My whole thing is, the possibly niave, idea that a gender identity doesn't HAVE to be something that is on display. I suppose it often is, but I've always felt that what you put on display is for others. While what you are is for you, and those you care about. And I feel that the Gay or Lesbian person who is simply themselves, and not some steriotype, is a more natural or real person, and have been gratified to see over the past 20 years or so, more and more same-sex couples in the US that look like they are the same sex, not a Butch or a Fem trying to take on the persona of the oppisite sex. Not that there aren't naturally "Butch" Women, and Femianen Men, just that in the past so many of them have seemed like a case of overacting.

I can't help but think this is true for the transgendered too.

And maybe some in Greece might take this opportunity to ask themselves if "the lifestyle" REALLY is an importiant part of their gender identity, or if the REALLY importiant part is being true to themselves, and NOT conforming to what either the Transgender Community, or the larger Greek society thinks they should be. If this also happens to remove them from the police spotlight, all the better.

Though I also acknowledge that they have every right to be themselves, whatever that means, even if that means putting their lifestyle on display, and that they have the right to choose to stand and fight the "visable fight" for their rights.

Oh, an

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley4 years ago

Very disturbing.

James K.
James Kauzlarich4 years ago

Now, of course, I'm speaking with no knowledge, so I suspect I'll offend someone, though that is not my intent, so I hope you'll all accept my apology in advance. Also, I hope that everyone will understand that I am ernest and say what I say only in hopes to contribute something positive to this completely negitive situation.

The article said that the trans-gendered victems are "visable", or obvious, which currently seems to be A (not THE) pivitol part of the abuse. That is, if they were NOT obvious, it would make these crimes against them much harder to commit.

So the obvious question seems to be, does a "gender identity" NEED to be obvious? Even if you were born with ALL the parts, or some unusual mix of them, that fact does not NEED to be obvious, or so it seems to me. I can only assume that what is making the Greek Transgender Women "visable" is some activity, or lifestyle choice. And while I would agree that they have the right to go to their own clubs, and associate with whomever they please, I also understand that sometimes "Discression is the better part of Valor". Meaning sometimes it's wise to keep your head down, and picking your fights can be more successful than taking every fight that comes your way, no matter how justified you are.

I'm NOT, NOT, NOT saying that these Women are to blame for what has happened to them. I'm saying that standing up for your rights, like the right to parade who you are, is often dangerous, especially if it offends someone. T

Kirsten Shute
Kirsten Shute4 years ago

This is so sad and so unfair. Even in places which more or less accept their "LGB" population, the "T" (trans* people) are still faced with outright oppression. And of course HIV testing is good in theory, but forcing it on these women sends the message that they're "dirtier" than people considered female from birth.

Ken W.
Ken W4 years ago


Shelah L.
sheila l4 years ago

sad, I read Warrior Princess about a transgendered NAVY SEAL and that was eye opening; anyone questioning this lifestyle read WARRIOR PRINCESS it is informative

Edo R.
Edo R4 years ago

Thanks for sharing!