On Tuesday, February 6, it was announced that trans activist and former TENI CEO, Tina Kolos Orban, sadly passed away over the weekend. A tireless advocate for trans rights, Tina was a beloved figure within the Irish LGBTQ+ community and tributes are pouring in since news of their passing broke.
Originally from Hungary, Tina took on the position as CEO of TENI in April 2022 after moving to Ireland. Before that, they had been active in international relations and the LGBTQ+ movement since 2005. They were Co-Chair and Treasurer for the organisation Transgender Europe and had worked at the European Union and United Nations levels.
Moreover, before joining TENI, they founded and acted as Vice President of the Transvanilla Transgender Association, a non-profit based in Hungary which provided and advocated for trans and non-binary people living under the country’s oppressive policies since 2011.
Tina’s tireless work in advancing the rights of trans people has been commended by those who had the pleasure of working with them. TENI shared a message on Instagram to announce the sad news, writing: “We are deeply saddened to inform you that our former CEO, Tina Kolos Orban, passed away over the weekend. For their family and all those who knew them as a wonderful person and a tireless advocate for trans rights, this is a terrible loss.”
Speaking of the role that Tina played as CEO of TENI, the association wrote: “They left TENI in a much more stable place after a time when our future was not clear. Tina took a period of leave in May 2023 to spend time focusing on their health, family, and home but we know that they were still deeply invested in the work of TENI and the future of the trans community in Ireland and across Europe.”
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“Our thoughts are with Tina’s partner and family at this sad time,” they continued. “As a mark of our respect and to give the TENI staff the opportunity to reflect on Tina’s impact on their lives and work, the TENI offices will be closed on Tuesday, February 6. Rest in Pride, Tina. We will miss you.”
Transgender Europe (TGEU) also paid tribute to Tina, saying: “With deep sadness, we share the passing of Tina Kolos Orban, Co-Founder & Vice President of Transvanilla and former TGEU Co-Chair. We lament the departure of a compassionate and inspiring leader in European trans rights advocacy.”
They continued, “They were a central figure in the Hungarian trans movement during times of repression. Rest in power, dear friend Tina. Your enduring impact will be remembered and felt by all those fortunate enough to have crossed paths with you.”
With deep sadness, we share the passing of Tina Kolos Orban, Co-Founder & Vice President of Transvanilla and former TGEU Co-Chair. We lament the departure of a compassionate and inspiring leader in European trans rights advocacy. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/Tcp2XUNdxK
— TGEU (@TGEUorg) February 6, 2024
Many more are taking to social media to share messages of condolences and tributes to the trans activist.
“So sorry to read this, Tina was an exceptional human rights advocate and a fantastic person to work with,” wrote Chair of the Coalition Against Hate Crime, Luna Lara Liboni.
“Such heart breaking news. It was a privilege to have worked with Tina, their clarity, focus, commitment and dedication were inspiring. Rest in Power,” another message read.
“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the entire European trans community on the passing of Tina Kolos Orban. Her legacy as a compassionate leader in trans rights advocacy will be deeply missed,” someone else wrote.
Last year, on the occasion of Trans Day of Visibility, Tina wrote an article for GCN in which they talked about their work as a trans rights activist and what it meant to them to be part of the Irish trans community.
— Gay Community News (@GCNmag) March 3, 2023
“I have a 15-year history of working on trans issues, and I have travelled the world to work with many trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people,” they wrote at the time. “I have heard so many compelling life stories. We laughed a lot and enjoyed our time together. I have learned a lot about survival, experienced unusual amounts of happiness and joy and felt incredible togetherness often.
“My journey brought me to Ireland to serve and be humbled. I am amazed by the power of my community, my staff’s commitment, my board’s support, and the ever-growing membership of TENI,” Tina said.
They continued, “The trans community is vibrant and comes from all walks of life with many identities. If I am talking to a young person, their parents, a group of migrants or a sex worker, I see the person in all their complexity. Our lives are always worth being seen and celebrated with joy and hope.”
Rest in power, Tina Kolos Orban.
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