A transgender person is eligible to change their passport only if they’ve undergone sex reassignment surgery in Armenia.Although Martirosyan had the surgery, which was performed by a Russian doctor, she has chosen to keep her sex as “male” on her passport.But MP Zohrabyan says the whole country was shocked by Martirosyan’s presentation on transgender rights.“We need time for that,” Zohrabyan said in Russian.“Our church is not ready for this conversation.”The state-financed Armenian Apostolic Church is believed to be the world’s oldest Christian institution.Doctors refuse to treat transgender people because of the discrimination, she says.It’s one of the issues her NGO is working to combat.The country’s peaceful transition to government last year, known as the “Velvet Revolution,” spurred hope for a new Armenia. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan “publicly denounced any threats of violence and hate speech” on “numerous occasions,” a spokesman said in an email to The New York Times.But many activists say that not much has changed for the community under Pashinyan, who was swept to power by the street protests.
Today, she goes abroad to Ukraine for hormone replacement therapy pills.The NGO closed down for a few weeks but reopened its doors on April 25. The only places they go are their homes and the NGO’s office to avoid harassment and violence, Varzhapetyan says, speaking on Martirosyan’s behalf as well.“The whole situation changed after the speech,” said Varzhapetyan, 23.Following Martirosyan’s speech, in abusive videos posted online, “people dressed in military uniforms declared that they would find transgender activists and kill them. “Because previously, people didn’t know who trans people were. And even if people hate us and want to kill us, they learned about what Lilit [said].”Martirosyan started her activism at age 13.The hearing was meant to cover issues of judicial reform and disability rights.A few days later, on April 8, there was backlash against Martirosyan.