Eleni K. 40-year old is a professional makeup artist. She decided to seek legal support at SolidarityNow’s Thessaloniki Solidarity Center, as she did not have the money to pay a lawyer to represent her in the change of her gender in the government-issued identity document.
From the age of 4 she felt that she was different. It’s not easy to be different in a world that wants you to be someone else. She faced many difficulties at school; her classmates were cursing and abusing her verbally. At the age of 18 she left her small town and went to Thessaloniki. She sought for “help” at the red light district. Then the only way to get a legal gender correction of your identity document was through prostitution, as the surgery was expensive. She was scared and feeling ashamed. She didn’t want to force herself to follow this path, as most of the people were doing back then. Her next step was to move to Athens, where she found a job as a makeup artist and cosmetics saleswoman. “There I felt more free,” she tells us. Family reasons forced her, five years ago, to return back to Thessaloniki. She continued to work for the same company, but for no apparent reason, after some time, she was fired. She thinks this was because she was wearing makeup, but they never admitted it.
At the age of 37, she decided to start hormone therapy. Legislation had now changed and the procedure to correct her/his gender on the identity card was easier than in the past. She talked to her family about her decision; her mother was very supportive, but her sister had some difficulties to understand her. “Suddenly there was a strong man next to her, a man who was a role model for her, and now she has ‘lost’ him,” says Eleni and adds, “fortunately now our relationship is good”.
Correcting her gender on her identity card was something very important to her, since she could no longer live as two different people. She wanted this situation to end as they questioned her identity everywhere, in public services and banks. When the court’s ruling came out, she had to go to her home town at the population registration office and the court of first instance to complete the process and take her identity. The whole process was frightening her but she met employees who helped her and did not make her feel bad. “I’m glad, because I can now do my job without any fear,” she says. “Life is too short; everything goes away and we must stop spending so much time sweating the small stuff,” concludes.
“The establishment of the right of the person to change his/her gender in the government-issued identity document is an important achievement for the LGBTQI + community. The imprinting of the gender on an administrative documents is an important step in defending the rights of transgender people,” said the Legal Service of the Thessaloniki Solidarity Center.
*Thessaloniki Solidarity Center was established and is supported by Open Society Foundations.