Trans people trapped in Ukraine because of gender listed on documents

Some human rights groups have suggested Trans people 'lose their ID' when attempting to get out of the country as Russian forces invade.

Woman looking out a barred window

As Russian forces continue to invade Ukraine, hundreds of thousands have fled the country seeking safety. However, members of the Trans community have shared how they are trapped in Ukraine due to the fact their official documents do not align with their gender.

Trans folk have expressed their fears of being stopped at Ukraine borders by authorities due to the fact passports and documents contain their “old names”, leading to some Trans women worrying they will be conscripted into fighting as their country will not allow men between the ages of 18-60 leave.

In an interview with Vice, Trans woman Zi Faámelu shared, “Like hundreds of Trans people in Ukraine, I am a woman, but I have ‘male’ in my passport and on all my ID, so this is a war within a war.”

Faámelu continued, “I’m completely alone now. Everybody in my neighbourhood has left. It’s such a dangerous situation, but I’m trying to stay optimistic. I’ve seen people running for their lives, and screaming at each other to leave things behind and just get out, but I have to stay where I am. It’s the only option for me right now.”

“It is very dangerous for me as a Trans person in Ukraine on a normal day, so now, it is impossible,” Faámelu explained. “Many gay people in Ukraine can blend in with the rest of society now, but for Trans people it is impossible. There are so many physical traits that we are attacked for […] we’re beaten, we’re killed. We need to get out now, but we can’t even leave our apartments.”

TGEU, the Transgender Europe network, listed some of the issues Trans people could face, including;

  • Trans people with identification documents not matching their gender identity cannot pass internal check-points. This considerably reduces their chances to flee areas of conflict, makes them vulnerable, and threatens their lives and physical integrity.
  • Trans people are currently not allowed to leave Ukraine if they are of fighting age and either perceived as male or having an official ‘male’ gender marker.
  • Trans people in Ukraine having to show a biometric passport to enter the EU are at particular risk. Many Trans people in Ukraine do not have a travel passport, let alone a biometric passport that correctly reflects their gender identity.
  • Trans people might be excluded from civil defence measures, like shelters or humanitarian aid, if based on presenting ID. Access to food banks, shelters, and other basic essentials often requires a valid identity card.

The situation for the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine is very concerning. In a recent letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, US Ambassador Bathsheba Nell Crocker reported “we have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.”

Crocker continued the lists “likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.”

The LGBTQ+ rights charity OutRight Action International has launched a vital fundraising campaign to fund groups in Ukraine to provide shelter and support to aid those displaced. You can donate to the fund here.

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