Criminal and administrative probes are underway following the report by a trans woman that she was verbally and physically assaulted by a state hospital employee who had exhibited transphobic behaviour, it was reported in Thursday.
According to a report from the ombudsman’s office, the complainant, said that while in the waiting room at the Nicosia General hospital last December, she had been verbally harassed by an administrative assistant after grabbing a chair to sit on from the staff kitchen. There was a very long line and she could not stand up for a long time, due to recent surgery.
The assistant reportedly told the complainant in a low voice that the chair was “for normal people” and had also hurled obscenities at her while asking her to return the chair. But after the trans woman returned the chair to the kitchen, the report said, the assistant knocked it down saying it was infected by the complainant who was “filthy and was carrying germs”.
The complainant claimed that the assistant repeated her comments when she followed her to her office and told her that she needed to sit due to her surgery.
But, the assistant allegedly told her that having surgery just meant that she had more germs, and called the hospital security to remove the trans woman.
When security arrived, the assistant told them that the complainant had exhibited indecent behaviour, the report said.
Things escalated when the complainant took a photo with her mobile phone of the door sign with the assistant’s name on so that she could remember it when filing a report.
This angered the assistant who reportedly began following her down the hospital corridor, hitting her on the back and blocking the elevator entrance with her foot. Security then intervened asking the complainant to delete the photo.
The assistant has denied the accusations saying that on the contrary, she was the victim of the complainants’ abusive behaviour.
She told the ombudsman’s office that her request to the complainant to take the chair back to the kitchen because she had placed it in a narrow passageway, blocking access, had angered the trans woman and that she was the one that hurled obscenities at her and had followed her to her office. She claimed she had to call security because the complainant was refusing to leave her office.
The assistant admitted that when the trans woman did leave she blocked the elevator door with her foot but only because she wanted to give time to security to arrive.
Both women had filed a report against each other to the police following the incident. The health ministry has also launched an administrative probe into the incident.
The ombudsman’s report said that as there were investigations underway, the office could not issue a ruling based on the claims of the complainant, but raised an issue on the level of awareness of civil servants as to their behaviour toward trans people.
“E’s claims trouble me as the incident occurred in a place which should be safe for everyone, let alone persons that are particularly vulnerable, like transgender people,” the report said.
The report called on the health ministry to issue a circular “with specific reference to the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”.
It also called on parliament to strengthen the legislative framework governing the relationship of the civil service with the with the public by adding a provision “which expressly prohibits any behaviour and attitude that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity”.