Israel is forming a multi-ministry team to find ways to make life easier for transgender people.
The announcement came from Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli this week and is a first of its kind for the country.
The team will bring together the justice, health, welfare and education ministries with trans community organizations. It will then submit its proposals to the Israeli cabinet within four months.
Nissenkorn said: ‘The team will get into the details, hear about the problems and present for the first time a holistic picture that will allow us to suggest solutions with regard to all aspects of life for the transgender community in Israel.’
He admitted that ‘at meetings of state authorities, the transgender community runs into unnecessary issues’. But he said the government wanted ‘to permit every person to live their lives according to their own choice, and in a simple, accessible and equal way’.
Meanwhile Shmuli said: ‘The State of Israel is advancing another significant step toward a place where all Israeli citizens will feel equal before the authorities.’
Trans Israelis still face violence and discrimination
Israel generally has better LGBT+ rights than its immediate neighbors. Trans peole can change legal gender, however they sometimes struggle to secure treatment for gender dysphoria and have to pay for it themselves.
Research in 2015 showed 41% of the country’s transgender people have attempted suicide. One in 10 turn to sex work. Meanwhile half have been victims of a violent attack because of their gender identity. And 68% have suffered discrimination in the workplace.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has frequently promised to do more for LGBT+ citizens. However, his governments have repeatedly failed to act, often because of right-wing religious opinion.
Indeed, some claim Israel only pretends to support LGBT+ people in order to ‘pinkwash’ its abuses against Palestinians.
An historic breakthrough came this year when the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted to ban LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’. However, the bill still needs to pass further votes.
The ministers announced that Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber and Avi Mutula, deputy director-general of the Welfare Ministry will lead the new team.
They will meet with trans organizations including the Gilo Project, Brit Haleviot, Trans Israel and the Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force.