In Ukraine, many transgender women are unable to leave the country because their government IDs still mark them as male – and men are forced to stay and f!ght under the country’s conscription laws, NPR reports.
For instance, Zi Faámelu wants to escape the war in Ukraine, but her identity will not let her.
The 31-year-old singer, who is transgender, has a passport that says she is male, the sex assigned to her at birth, and Ukraine has prohibited men of f!ghting age from leaving the country.
According to Los Angeles Times, that paradox has left Faámelu hunkered inside her Kyiv apartment as missiles soar all around her.
She is considering following other transgender women who have crossed into Poland illegally through the woods in the week since Russia invaded.
“Already we were fighting for our lives,” she said.
“And now we’re actually in war.”
Faámelu is anxious to leave now. She knows that under a Russian occupation, life could deteriorate quickly for LGBTQ people like her.
Vice News reports that trans people in Ukraine are “totally stuck” and “scared for their lives” in the country.
Two Ukrainian trans women who spoke to VICE said they can’t leave Ukraine or even safely travel through it because all of their identification documents say “male” and mention their “old masculine names”.
Some trans people have even been advised to “lose their ID” by human rights groups, in order to get out of Ukraine.
Trans campaigners estimate this issue is leading to “hundreds” of trans people in Ukraine being left in “serious danger” and feeling “completely alone”.