kolekTIRV was formed by a small group of trans and gender variant persons from Zagreb, who recognized the need for community building through mutual support and empowerment. Since their beginnings, they have been encouraging, educating and empowering the members of their community to become involved in the movement and make their voices heard.
kolekTIRV envisions a society which celebrates diversity of identities, bodies and experiences. Their mission is to work on promotion and protection of human rights of trans, intersex and gender variant (TIGV) persons; deconstructing cisnormativity, the gender binary, patriarchy and heteronormativity; achieving full equality of persons of all genders, gender identities and gender expressions.
Their objectives include promoting and protecting human rights of TIGV persons, working on individual and general welfare of their community, empowering and capacity raising of their communities throughout Croatia and eliminating violence and discrimination towards TIGV persons.
Some of their biggest accomplishments include – building end empowering the TIGV community in Croatia (5 Transposimus, regional events for TIGV persons gathering over 70 persons each year (in cooperation with Trans Network Balkan and later the association Spektra from Montenegro); two TRANSummer camps, the only gathering of TIGV people from Croatia; the first Balkan Trans Inter March (with Trans Network Balkan and Spektra)); developing the first support program for TIGV persons in Croatia – they are especially proud of establishing the group for parents of TIGV children (they are currently working with over 30 families); the first program for the rights of intersex people in Croatia (research on which medical procedures are being performed on infants in Croatian hospitals; hosted the largest event for the community of intersex people in Europe so far, organized by OII-Europe; established support group (4 people are currently attending monthly support groups) and individual counselling); a cycle of educational workshops (on average 6 workshops per year were held since 2015, with over 400 participants including relevant ministries, students of auxiliary occupations, social workers, registry offices, judges, relevant medical experts, related organizations, etc); participating at the working group developing an Ordinance in 2014 which regulates the LGR procedure; raising visibility of TIGV topics and persons in the media (worked with BBC, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Globus, RTL, Nova TV, etc.)
In what ways have young LGBTQI people in your community been affected by the COVID-19 emergency and the lockdowns?
Our community reported issues such as being obligated to be in their homes with unaccepting or even violent families; not being able to get their hormones because they cannot afford them (either because they lost their jobs or because they were buying their hormones in other countries where it is cheaper than in Croatia and now they are not able to travel to those countries); overusing binders because they are never alone at home; losing housing because they can’t afford it anymore or because their house was destroyed in the earthquakes in 2020. Also, the LGR procedure has been slower and inaccessible. Regular medical check ups for those who are on hormone therapy, as well as starting the hormone therapy, has been very difficult since the medical system is overwhelmed due to the pandemic. Mastectomy for trans persons stopped being performed in state hospitals and it’s still possible to have this surgery only in private clinics with paying.
Are there specific ways in which you have supported the community that you would like to highlight and/or share with other european organisations?
During these hard times we put our focus on our support program consisting of peer and psychological support. We moved our program to online support and were available for our community 24/7 throughout 2020. Whenever the pandemic allowed us we met with our community live, mostly through outdoor activities such as hiking. We found that such activities helped the most because we all missed live human interaction. A positive side of moving most of our activities online is that we were able to reach persons from smaller places in Croatia who are usually not able to come to Zagreb and participate in our activities. This is the reason why we will still have certain activities online even when possible to have them live as well.
Also, we are regularly monitoring changes in LGR procedure, as well as within the healthcare system, caused by the pandemic so we are able to inform our community of their possibilities, but also to be able to react on discrimination and violation of human rights of trans persons.
What can governments, (national and international) authorities and institutions do more to support the communities you serve throughout this crisis?
It is necessary for governments, authorities and institutions not to leave anyone behind and to include the needs of all of their citizens while making and implementing strategies and regulations in the midst of the pandemic.
There are reasons to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a part of our lives for 1-3 years. In what way do you think that prolonged lockdowns and/or other preventive measures will impact your work and LGBTQI+ youth in your country?
We were forced to adapt to lockdowns and other preventive measures in 2020, during which we focused on raising our capacities in different online ways of working, as well as in making our strategies and working plans more adaptable. At the end of this year we have strategic planning for the period from 2023 until 2025 during which we will discuss further strategies in adapting to possible measures regarding the pandemic.
Their message for young LGBTQI people out there –
Celebrate the diversity of identities, bodies and experiences!