Pride and Prejudice: Transgender POWs
Many Ukrainian transgender people fleeing the war face discrimination and humiliation at border checkpoints.• June 8, 2022
In this episode we discuss the personal stories of several trans people in Eastern Europe, two who struggled to get out of Ukraine after Putin's invasion due to discrimination by border guards who refuse to let them leave the war zone, and one teen in Moldova who tragically took her own life after years of harassment by kids at school and the parents of those kids, school administrators, and teachers. If you like our content please become a patron to get our premium episodes, and our public episodes ad-free!
We discuss the stories of Edward Reese, Zi Faámelu, and trans woman named Judis. Edward was able to flee his home city of Kyiv to Denmark, but Zi, Judis, and Judis' friend Alice were not so lucky. They were all stopped at the Ukrainian border by border guards who attempted to forcibly enlist them into the army after the border guards declared them to be men. Ukraine is currently under martial law, and restricts all men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country. Zi managed to swim a narrow part of the Danube river... in February, and make it to Romania and then on to Germany. Judis and Alice didn't get out of the country, as far as we know they're still in Ukraine. 1, 2
Rainbow Europe lists Ukraine as the 39th of 49 countries in Europe in terms of the favorability of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual) rights. Prior to 2017, people were forced to self-commit to a mental institution for a month, sterilize themselves, divorce if they were married, and undergo gender affirmation surgery to appease the state rules in getting their gender changed on official documents. Since then the WHO has removed the "disorder" classification from transgender medical diagnoses and required all member nations to follow suit, the deadline is this year. In fairness, not all western European countries are much better off. The case that got the EU human rights court to outlaw forced sterilization was a ruling on homophobia. It was originally aimed at three gay men in France. 3
We next discuss the tragic story of Felis Joy, a trans teenager from Chișinău, Moldova who took her own life after harassment by teachers, school administrators, classmates, and the parents of those classmates. One of the teachers who failed to protect her from physical abuse even spoke in favor of transphobia and belittled Felis at her own funeral.
Most of the primarily Catholic or Orthodox European countries are heavily biased against LGBTQIA people in their laws. Poland has even declared "LGBT free zones" which is funny considering how many priests there are in that country... 5
1. Julia Lee. 'Danger everywhere': War and Transphobia Create Perfect Storm for Trans Ukrainians. NBC. April 2022. ⇤
2. Lorenzo Tondo. ‘I Will Not Be Held Prisoner’: The Trans Women Turned Back at Ukraine’s Borders. The Guardian. March 2022. ⇤
3. Europe: LGBTQIA Country Rankings. Rainbow Europe. 2022 ⇤
5. Polish Region Wants to Remain an 'LGBT-Free' Zone Despite Risking Millions in EU Funds. Euronews. August 2021. ⇤
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