Trans persons in the Caribbean are subjected to exclusion and poverty that make them more vulnerable to violence. This exclusion starts with the lack of legal recognition of gender identity and makes it difficult for them to have access to health care and the formal work market.
In the region, trans persons cannot get their gender identity recognised on their identification documents. They can change their names on some documents but not on the gender marker in Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, they cannot modify their documents to include their preferred gender identity.
Legal gender identity recognition encompasses the components of name and gender mark, having just a name changed does not fulfil human rights obligations, it is necessary to get the gender marker changed in conjunction with the name to guarantee legal recognition of a trans person.
Gender is a fundamental element of a person’s identity, consequently, its recognition by the State is crucial to guarantee the full enjoyment of the human rights of trans persons, including protection against violence, torture, ill-treatment, right to health, education, employment, housing, access to social security, as well as the right to freedom of expression, and association.
Legal recognition of identity facilitates access to rights that should be enjoyed by all citizens, to the name, to the nationality, to the inscription in the civil registry, to the familiar relations, among other rights recognised at the national level. These rights are also included in international instruments such as the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The lack of recognition of identity implies that the person does not have legal proof of their existence, hindering full access to their rights. Trans persons in the Caribbean cannot exercise all their rights openly and participate in the daily activities of society because they do not exist as who they are. Not having personal documentation that genuinely reflects your identity is a violation of human rights.
Trans rights are human rights, trans people do exist in the Caribbean, and they are entitled to have their gender identity recognised and to have access to health. It’s time for our States to take a step forward to equality. UC Trans urges our governments to fulfil the international human rights obligations and honour the diversity that characterises the Caribbean region, joining efforts to protect and recognise the rights of trans persons and grant gender identity recognition.