Some great news from Denmark: the deportation of Fernanda Milán has been suspended.
Fernanda was horrifically mistreated after seeking asylum in Denmark, but faced worse in her home country of Guatemala. Her deportation was originally scheduled for Monday 17 September, but it is now on hold following international condemnation and vital interventions from Danish asylum activists.
For more information, see Natacha Kennedy’s translation of a press release from the T Refugee Project in Denmark.
[Trigger warning: rape, transphobia]
A Guatemalan asylum-seeker is fighting to avoid deportation in Denmark.
Fernanda Milan was horrifically mistreated upon her arrival at the Danish refugee camp Centre Sandholm. Her hormone treatments were suspended and she was placed in the male wing of the camp. She ran away after being gang raped by several men who forced their way into her room, and was then trafficked to a brothel before finally being offered support by anti-trafficking organisation Reden International.
But Fernanda faces worse should she return to Guatemala. Trans people in the Central American country face violent murder at the hands of vigilantes and the police. Trans activist Johana Ramirez, of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender People, estimates that the average life expectancy of trans people in Guatemala is 25. Oppressive “Christian” moral values are reinforced by the powerful Roman Catholic Church.
Danish authorities don’t take transphobia seriously. Fernanda was told by police to accept personal responsibility for her rape because she “chose” to be trans. The Danish Red Cross – who run Centre Sandholm – appear to deny all responsibility for the incident. “Basically a transgender woman is likely to be placed in a male dormitory but in a single room. But we would not place her in a women’s dormitory because that is definitely for women, where cannot permit ourselves to place a man.” says Red Cross head of asylum Anne La Coeur.
Denmark does not recognise gender identity as grounds for asylum, meaning that Fernanda now faces deportation on Monday 17 September. Denmark, along with the UK and Ireland, opted out of the new EU directive on asylum that includes gender identity.
“What I’m most afraid of when I go back, isn’t being killed. What really petrifies me is being attacked and tortured,” says Fernanda.
This shocking miscarriage must justice must not go ahead.
You can take action to support Fernanda by signing this petition.
(Petition is in Danish: Fornavn = 1st name, Efternavn = Surname, By = Town/city. For country select “Storbrittanien” if you are a UK citizen living in the UK)
There is also a protest taking place outside the Danish Embassy in London on Monday 10th September.
The quite fantastic LGBT Asylum News blog has recently posted to ask for a little financial support from its readers. This blog is an incredible resource, with well-written, well-researched daily news stories from all over the world dealing with a wealth of issues that might otherwise receive very little attention in the UK. Its writers are also wholeheartedly dedicated to a genuine “LGBT” approach: one that incorporates a wealth of perspectives and experiences relating to multiple sexualities and gender identities.
You can read more about why LGBT Aylum News is wonderful and why it deserves your support here.
I just picked this up through Gendered Intelligence.
Download the report here.
I attended the conference last year, taking part in the “youth and families” strand. It was an event that clearly needed a bit more of a defined direction, but hopefully the substantial feedback will mean that’s the case for this year’s conference. I didn’t learn as much as I hoped, but it was a great chance to meet others and have a better idea of what’s going on, as well as to help educate representatives from various charities and government bodies.
Something that struck me as particularly interesting in the report – as well as the expected feedback from the workshops – were some of the statistics gathered. It’s impressive to see such a wide range of people were involved, and there’s some tasty statistics revealing the variations in gender identity, sexuality and ethnic background. I feel the open field approach that allowed people to define themselves rather than refer to tickboxes gave some particularly revealing answers. I hope they stick to this approach next year, and maybe introduce some more fields as well, maybe relating to things such as disabilities (including mental health) and economic background. There’s a lot to learn from such information about diversity in trans spaces.
The asylum strand struck me as particularly powerful. I didn’t manage to attend it on the day, but have learned a lot of (pretty shocking) facts from the summary. I suppose it’s one of these “I knew it was bad, but not that bad” situations.
I was also interested to read that representatives of a sex-worker rights group were present, although it strikes me that we should be working with women’s groups as well as those who are there for “male and transgender sex workers”.
Anyways, the details on this year’s event are as follows:
Trans Community Conference 2009
will be held at
Central School of Speech and Drama
Eton Avenue, London NW3 3HY
Friday 11th September 2009
Call for papers, workshops and presentations, artworks and stalls
To find out more click here