Europe, as a whole, has always held a fascination with Transgender women.
If you think about nightlife in Paris, Berlin or even London, Trans women have always been part of this scene. They might be in drag shows or cabaret shows . And yes, some T-girls do participate even though most performers are essentially gay men. Or, more recently, touring Ladyboy shows from Thailand have visited many European capitals.
The majority of European people are educated enough to understand that there is more to gender than just being male or female. They realize that gender is non-binary, as is sexuality. People now appreciate that many people exist somewhere between the two extremes of male and female.
Whether all countries in Europe accept Trans-people and allow them to integrate with society is a different matter.
In many European countries several key things have contributed to the problems faced by Transgender women. And these include:
If you ask most Europeans, especially those more to the East of the land mass, what is a Transsexual person (woman) you will get some blank looks and a variety of different answers. The most common answer will probably be: a gay man in a dress, or something similar. This is because the perception remains that drag queens are Trans women. In fact, most of the time they are gay men parodying women for the purposes of so-called entertainment.
Sure, some Trans women do drag but it is usually a means to an end (money for surgery) rather than outright choice. Thai Ladyboys and Trans-pinay are somewhat different as those who perform in cabarets usually live full time as females.
The second answer will imply that all Trans women are selling sex and are prostitutes. Yes, this happens and in the bigger cities such as Marseille, Madrid or Munich there are T-girls working in the oldest profession. But there are uncountable numbers of Transgender women in Europe who live, or want to live, "normal lives". They stay away from the hassles that society imposes upon them;
The misunderstanding continues when people reply that being Trans is a lifestyle choice. Thereby mixing up gender identity with sexuality. This is as the traditional leaders of the LGBTQI grouping (the L, G and B letters) have always pushed sexuality to the fore. This is mainly because this is what their agenda is all about;
Then we have the old, continuing problem of religion. Whether it be Catholicism, Protestantism or people of Orthodox. Conservative faiths, the leaders preach the same rhetoric. They claim their gods do not make mistakes and there are only two genders, man and women.
In the light of dwindling congregations and support (ie funding), in western Europe and UK, some of these faiths are beginning to offer "olive branches" to gay people. By extension, this applies to Transsexual men and women, but we shall see!
Whenever a politician is running for office in eastern Europe. He or she has to find ways to appeal to the conservative electorate who put him/her in power. So, they trot out the usual political stories and attack minorities. Vowing to uphold the sanctity of marriage and the faith of the country - if you vote for them! Trans and gay people often get the brunt of the bad publicity generated by such politicians. Once such politicians are elected, they dare not campaign for Trans rights and/or equality which should be a basic right for all people
Yet, despite all of the negativity mentioned above, things are changing for Transsexuals people in Europe. Despite many governments moving to the right of the political spectrum. The moderates and liberals are still a force.
Legislation is either in place or being put in place in many countries across Europe to protect the rights of Transgender people;
Medical care is more available for psychological assistance. And counseling required both before, during and after gender confirmation surgeries;
Far better diagnosis relating to gender dysphoria (the condition which most Trans people suffer from) is possible. Indeed, even the necessary operations are, in some countries, being funded by the national health services;
Tran visibility is at all time high across Europe with much of this being positive awareness. People, generally, are beginning to realize that Trans people are just that... people. A great example of this improved awareness is the huge increase in men from most European countries looking to date Trans women. Such men, typically, use specialized dating sites such as iDate Transsexual.
As couples where one partner is Transgender increase in number and visibility. It can only benefit the T cause as a whole;
Certain cities such as Barcelona, London, and Lisbon celebrate Trans visibility days. And are actively seeking to promote the friendliness and tolerance of their cities. They hope to attract the so-called "pink dollar" (gay money spent on holidays, cruises and associated goods). However, the pink dollar includes spending by Trans people on vacations and trips too. All minorities enjoy places where they can relax and be themselves without fear of intimidation or prejudice.
Whilst the outlook for Transgender women is improving in the more open-minded. Less religious countries which constitute Europe, there are still many challenges ahead. For those T-girls living in the threatening environments of the old Communist bloc, progress is slow. Still, only time will tell if real changes can, indeed, be made throughout Europe.