Last Thursday and Friday, the association for a critical approach to gender and sexuality Subversive Front from Skopje, Macedonia, was the host of the workshop “Encouraging and empowering support: issues and needs of trans and intersex people in Macedonia – mobilizing communities and allies”. The workshop was organized in partnership with ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Organisation, and XY Spectrum, both based in Belgrade, Serbia. The workshop was a gathering place of members of the LGBTI community, particularly trans* identifying people, their parents, legal experts, social workers, mental health-care service providers, as well as LGBTI activists from the country. Its 2-day programme was created so as to respond to the needs of increased knowledge and understanding of the life experiences trans* and intersex people in Macedonia are faced with on a daily basis, and to map the areas in which the participants can improve their work in providing better support to trans* and intersex people. Over 20 people took active part in the discussions and lectures during the workshop and were able to share their experiences and stories, as well as their ideas and opinions. In addition, the trans* identifying people were able to share their personal stories and challenges with the psychologists, lawyers and LGBTI activists during the networking time allotted for the end of the sessions each day.

The particular topics the participants were keen to know more of were the variety of identities within the trans* and intersex groups and their clear definition, the legal framework which can be used for regulation of the exercise of certain rights of these people such as the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination, the right to life, the right to bodily integrity and autonomy, the right to self-determination, the right to freedom from violence, the right to freedom of movement and so on. In addition, the medical aspects in relation to the lived experiences of the trans* and intersex people also raised significant interest among the participants, such as the types of medical interventions often requested by the trans* people, and the variety of medical diagnoses that unfortunately still medicalize intersex people. Furthermore, ideas and stories of community empowerment of trans* and intersex people were shared and discussed, too. Last but not least, clear and accurate instructions were given in relation to the terminology used for covering the abovementioned aspects of the trans* and intersex people.

The workshop programme was developed and implemented by the trainers Kristian Randjelovic, executive director of XY Spectrum, and Isidora Isakov – capacity building manager at ERA, both of them possessing significant experience in the topics covered at the workshop. The workshop was organized with the financial support of Civica Mobilitas – a civil society support facility of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), implemented by NIRAS from Denmark, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) and the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU).