The situation of the transgender community in Israel has recently been in the news following the suicides of several members of the community. But these sad headlines are only the tip of the iceberg: The community has been coping with difficulties in the areas of welfare, health, personal safety and more. These and similar issues were discussed in a meeting held at the end of November by the State Control Committee headed by MK Karin Elharar.
Along with some progress in certain aspects, it seems like some of the relevant government ministries still find it hard to internalize the need for a change of direction that would ensure the rights of the transgender community. For example, the community representatives complained that the Reassignment Committee, which is in charge of authorizing gender reassignment procedures in Israel, has not convened in the last six months. The discussion also referred to the significant financial burden on the patients due to the standstill in the committee. The community representatives emphasized that the situation leaves the patients no choice except for turning to the private market, where the surgical procedures involve very high costs. They reported serious emotional distress among those waiting for the surgery, and the harsh reality of turning to prostitution in an attempt to cover the medical expenses.
There was also criticism on the ambiguousness around not implementing the procedure for changing the gender category on people's ID cards. It seems that the authorities find it difficult to realize the urgent need to make this service efficient and fast.
At the end of the meeting, MK Elharar pointed at the schedules for amending the situation by government agencies. It was noted that the State Control Committee is strongly critical of the fact that, despite a previous commitment to convene in August, the Gender Reassignment Committee has only convened in November, and did not summon anyone to appear before it.
Written by Lee Ilan and Errel Peli, LGBTQ Rights Team