By Maria Caspani
NEW YORK, Dec 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Transgender people in the European Union (EU) face serious violence and discrimination,and EU institutions, as well as member states, should develop policies to protect them, according to a report published on Tuesday.
The report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights(FRA) said that trans people are frequently discriminated against in key aspects of life such as employment, education and healthcare services.
"Everyone has the right to be themselves. However, in reality many trans people live in fear as society is often intolerant and ignorant of trans people and their needs," Morten Kjaerum, director of FRA, said in a statement.
"Our research shows that trans people live noticeably better lives where Member States are aware of the problems and have developed policies to protect and support them."
The report uses data from a 2012 survey on the status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the EU, and analyses the "lived reality" of over 6,000 self-declared trans respondents.
Violence and hate crimes emerged as the most worrying result of the survey.
One in two trans persons said they were physically attacked, threatened or insulted in the year before they took the survey, an incidence twice as high as that for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) respondents.
Over two in five of those respondents who said they were victims of violence indicated that such incidents happened three or more times during the year before the survey.
Perpetrators were mostly groups of male individuals unknown to the victim.
Fifty-four percent of trans respondents felt personally discriminated against or harassed because of their being transgender, the study showed. Discrination was felt more strongly by young respondents not in paid work or from a low income stratum.
The area in which trans persons felt the strongest discrimination was employment, particularly during the search for a job. One in three respondents said they felt discriminated against when looking for a job, more than twice the percentage of LGB respondents to the same point.
Around one in five respondents indicated they felt discriminated against by personnel when accessing health services.
Data from the survey showed that many trans people live in hiding or avoid expressing their identity for fear of violence, harassment or discrimination, even within the privacy of their own home.
Despite existing legal provisions and policies protecting the rights of trans people in the EU, the report argues that Union-wide action as well as national responses should be strengthened to address gender identity and gender expression.
"Ultimately, as trans respondents noted, they are citizens who feel that they are not allowed to be themselves," said the report.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Lisa Anderson)