Mobilisation activities were organised within the project "Mobilization of transgender sex workers in Kiev", run by the transgender-led organisation HPLGBT with financial support from Open Society Foundations.
Events were held under the motto "Sex Work is Work" in a warm atmosphere with a friendly team. The team warmly accepted those who took part in mobilisation activities for the first time.
During the event the rights and freedoms of transgender people in Ukraine were discussed. People also discussed the legal oppression of sex work with a specific focus on the rights of transgender sex workers.
“The problems faced by transgender sex workers are violence, violations of their human rights, stigma and discrimination, as well as the closeness of the group,” said Igor Medved, one of the participants of the meeting.
During the event, participants spoke about the unequal position of transgender sex workers in the non-trans sex work community, as well as the issues related to the acceptance of transgender sex workers in the LGBT community.
“The situation is such that our voice is not being heard, we assume that one of the reasons for that is that our partners and large network of organisations do not know about us, about our existence. But we exist, and we intend to fight for our rights. Transgender sex workers are often left alone with their problems, and at the moment our organisation is providing help for transgender sex workers, but we can't provide help fully. Often we were asking donors, that support the self-organisation of sex workers, to support our work, but have not been supported. We assume that this is possibly related to a prioritised support of cisgender [non-trans] sex workers, or other reasons, which we do not know,” sais Igor.
The participants shared their views and information on the activities and position of transgender sex workers in other countries and cultures.
A number of questions about safety and about the protection of the health in the context of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections was discussed. The participants were offered testing, safer sex supplies and additional information material on the subject.
The programme of events included a variety of activities in which the participants actively and willingly engaged. One of the main events was the celebration of Valentine's Day.
“I am a sex worker, I haved lived in Kiev for 5 years and work independently. I was humiliated, beaten and raped by the customers. I physically resisted to some of them. But it was difficult. Against one, who robbed and beat me, I filed a complaint at the police. The skills on the response to the aggression and the recognition of it would be very useful to me. I want to hear the experiences of similar people and share information with them about dangerous clients and provocative actions,” said Nastya.
“We have just started to actively mobilise but we intend to use all national resources to protect our rights. All the meetings, as well as the creation of HPLGBT is from the initiative of trans people, including those who are involved in sex work,” concluded Igor.