‘You’re a Guy… Go to War’ – Fleeing Ukrainian Trans Woman Turned Back at Border

Policemen escort activists holding placards and rainbow flags during the transgender parad
Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Another transgender woman — born as a biological male — has been turned back by Ukrainian officials at the Polish border and told to fight for the country.

Transgender individuals have been legally recognised in Ukraine since 2017, however, despite being allowed to change their legal gender, the Ukrainian border force has reportedly been carrying out their own physical gender inspections in order to determine if people will be permitted to flee the country or be banned from leaving the country under the martial law restrictions which require all Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 to stay and fight Russia.

Judis – an individual who was turned away by border guards last week – described to left-wing British newspaper The Guardian being inspected by two male guards at the Polish border in a private room

The border guards allegedly told Judis, “you’re a guy, so get the hell out of here”, and that Judis should be  “grateful they didn’t call the police”, even though Judis claims to have a “legally valid document” that has “female” as the listed gender.

“Go to the war”, the border guards insisted and highlighted that “more than 3 million people had already fled the country” so they wouldn’t be letting Judis out.

“I will try again to cross the border because it’s my right to leave and to live. And I will not remain silent. I will not be held prisoner,” Judis asserted.

Alice, 24, a trans woman and her non-binary wife, Helen, also described a gender examination by three male Ukrainian border guards where Alice claims the guards “touched my breasts” and “checked my neck to see if I had an Adam’s apple”, before deciding Alice was a male and therefore was not permitted to leave Ukraine.

Other transgender individuals have resorted to an array of tactics in an effort to leave Ukraine, with one transgender male (biological female) using the pseudonym Andriy claiming to have “painted my nails violet and wore Mom’s shirt to look more girly”, in an effort to deceive border guards.

Andriy admitted to not having received any medical surgery to transition and possessed documents with female as the listed gender, despite identifying as a male.

Rain Dove Dubilewski, a transgender London based activist from Safebow — an organisation created to assist transgender people fleeing Ukraine — assisted Andriy in leaving Ukraine, and told Business Insider: “It was very painful for him [Andriy] to dress up as a woman, wear his mother’s makeup, but it would have been more painful to leave her in a foreign country to start her life over”.

Bernard Vaernes – another Safebow activist – has insisted that “this is the moment where we need to show that there are people suffering, not only from the war, but because of sexism and transphobia, and yet [those at risk] cannot leave.”

Another ‘non-binary’ individual called Nick – who is reportedly in hiding in Odessa – expressed concerns over being conscripted because of having male passport documentation.

“Military authorities can force me to the combat zone with a gun in my hand. This is wrong. All civilians want to run away from the nightmares from war, not only biological females … I want to run anywhere from this nightmare and start my life from zero,” Nick said.

LGBTQ+ charities fear that trans individuals will soon be running out of the artificial hormones they take to allow them to suppress their natural biology and present as a different gender, with it reportedly being dangerous for individuals to suddenly stop taking the hormones.

A reoccurring concern for many transgender people attempting to flee Ukraine is the potential treatment under Vladimir Putin if Russia were to continue occupying areas of Ukraine.

Putin suggested in October 2021 that it is “close to a crime against humanity” to teach children about transgenderism and that “[it is a] simply monstrous moment when children are pushed to believe from early on that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa”.


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