Αθήνα, January 18, 2014
JOINT PRESS RELEASE:
“Discriminations by the school administration, persistent threats against the life, physical integrity and dignity, plus the disappointment because of a change in stewardship by the Greek Ombudsman, forced the trans schoolgirl to leave the school environment”
“The operation was successful, but unfortunately the patient died”
Greek Transgender Support Association (G.T.S.A.) and Greek Action for Human Rights – “Pleiades”, released an update about the highly negative developments in the case of the trans schoolgirl who was studying at a Night School of Athens and was finally forced to drop out because of the extreme discrimination and harassment she had to face.
More specifically, Greek Transgender Support Association together with the group “Homophobia in Education” had in December 2012 publicly pointed a finger against the extreme discriminatory behavior of the school’s administration (read more details here: https://transgendersupportassociation.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/report-of-discrimination-intimidation-and-racist-violence-against-a-trans-woman-in-education/) and at the same time filed a complaint to the Greek Ombudsman, who gave positive guidelines for this issue in its report (more here: https://transgendersupportassociation.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/press-release-greek-ombudsman-issued-positive-recommendations-for-the-respect-of-gender-identity-gender-expression-of-trans-people-in-the-school-environment/) However, although the trans schoolgirl finished Night High School and enrolled in a Night Lyceum classes, the school’s administration did not take into account all the Ombudsman’s guidelines, but on the contrary followed the same escalating transphobic discriminatory behavior. The trans schoolgirl, to be more specific, continued to face discrimination, transphobic harassment and bullying because of her gender identity, and was further victimized by the Head of the Lyceum’s administration, when he asked her to “apologize” for offences she was not even aware of and not accepting a request by her and the Greek Ombudsman to postpone her “apology” call (more here: https://transgendersupportassociation.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/press-release-scalable-racist-and-transphobic-behavior-against-the-trans-schoolgirl-and-the-teacher-who-supported-her/
Her request to have her lawyer, Electra – Leda Koutras, present in a process that could result in a school change as a penalty, was also rejected.
At this critical point, we were also informed by the Greek Ombudsman that the report file with the trans schoolgirl case was taken from the Ombudsman’s Deputy for Gender Equality – that had made numerous and successful interventions in order to give a solution to this escalating problem – and was forwarded and assigned to the Deputy Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child, that not only had no jurisdiction because the trans schoolgirl was already an adult, but had also put the case in the archives deciding not to take any further actions when the case was initially assigned to them. The case, after our persistent requests, was assigned to both Ombudsman Deputies. Furthermore, we were strongly concerned and alarmed because the Deputy for Gender Equality was seriously working on the case, so we sent a letter dated 10.12.2013 asking clarifications and the reasons behind this sudden change.
During her visit to the Ombudsman’s offices in order to file additional claims, the person responsible was addressing her in the opposite gender, despite her protests and the protests of her lawyer pointing that they had already intervene in favor for a respect of the chosen gender identity of her client.
On January 3, 2014 we sent another letter to the Greek Ombudsman, indicating the urgency of the issue, because we were informed that the schoolgirl could no longer withstand the pressure that put her life at stake and the extreme discriminations she had to face, and had to drop out of school; requesting a thorough briefing on any further information.
In their reply, dated January 8, 2014, we were informed by the Deputies that the Greek Ombudsman is considering the issue of “a high priority” and that the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs and Life-Long Education “apparently understood the Ombusman’s contribution to the rights of transgender students”, and further on made specific reference to the case of the trans schoolgirl.
All the above, therefore, create some reasonable questions:
1) What were the Ombudsman’s subsequent acts to the school’s administration after we complained on 12/04/2013 that the extreme discriminatory behavior against the schoolgirl instead of improving was further escalated?
2) What was the reason behind this sudden change of Deputy when the Gender Equality Deputy had shown quite positive developments?
3) Why the Ombudsman, especially after our request dated 28/11/2013 to postpone the disciplinary proceedings against the schoolgirl, did not forwarded the case to the Public Prosecutor Office, since it is a criminal offence for the school administration not to cooperate with the Ombudsman? Why all appropriate measures were not activated and the schoolgirl was forced to drop out of school?
4) What was the sense behind the claim that the Ombudsman is still interested in the case and that the officers in the Ministry of Education do not turn a “blind eye”, when the schoolgirl was in fact forced to drop out of school?
5) What exactly has the Ministry of Education taken into consideration, when in their reply to a relevant letter sent by Amnesty International that was already informed by G.T.S.A. and the schoolgirl; they support the position of the school’s administration and not that of the schoolgirl?
Greek Transgender Support Association (G.T.S.A.) and Greek Action for Human Rights – “Pleiades” are strongly protest because while the Greek Ombudsman was promptly informed about the adverse developments and the fact that the extreme discriminatory behavior of the school administration could possibly force the schoolgirl to drop out of school with adverse consequences in her personal development; and why while they were well informed about the abusive violations of human rights, they proceeded in changing the responsible Deputy? The same goes for the Ministry of Education attitude to the case. We state that, despite these unfavorable developments, we will defend the rights of the trans schoolgirl in any suitable way, because of the serious violations of human rights committed that can not be tolerated in a democratic society.
At the same time, we express our disappointment realizing that the Greek Ombudsman’s recent decisions are quite different, as expressed in their reply to G.T.S.A.’s letter – in a somewhat smug satisfaction – that the Ministry has understood the rights of transgender people; turning a blind eye to the schoolgirl who has already been forced to leave school. This attitude reminds us of a popular Greek saying: “The operation was successful, but unfortunately the patient died”.
Finally, due to the tolerance the Greek State has shown in committed felonies and misdemeanors, that have been already publicly denounced – also by Members of the Parliament – not only because no investigation was ordered, but also because the Greek Legal System was not enacted accordingly in order to protect the jeopardized rights of the trans schoolgirl, our one and only way is to seek remedies appealing before the European Court of Human Rights.
Greek Transgender Support Association
Syggrou 132, Athens – 17671
Hellenic Action for Human Rights – “Pleiades”
Voulgaroktonou 42, Athens – 11472