In October 2011 the European Union Parliament adopted asylum standards that stated that EU member nations must now include gender identity as a ground of persecution and take it into account when they make decisions to grant or deny asylum status to people seeking it.
There were three EU nations that opted out of the process, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark.
Unfortunately that opting out of the trans asylum rules has had a negative effect on Fernanda Milan, a Guatemalan trans activist who was forced to flee her homeland and ended up in Denmark due to horrific anti-trans violence in her central American nation and she being considered a major trans human rights leader in Guatemala.
After arriving in Denmark, her treatment didn’t get much better in the nation that once was the place in the early 1950′s where Christine Jorgenson transitioned before returning to the United States in 1953. She was housed in the male wing of the Sandholm Asylum detention camp run by the Danish Red Cross, and several men broke into her room and subsequently raped her. She was denied the hormones she’s been on since age 14. After escaping the detention camp she ended up in a brothel in Jutland for two years until it was raided by the police.
Here is a video made by people trying to save Milan from deportation back to Guatemala in which Milan tells her story in her own words [Note: the video is 6 minutes long ]
Many thanks to Babydyke for providing the following transcription
is a refugee from Guatemala
Came to Denmark in 2009 to seek asylum
she will be deported 17/09/2012
Fernanda: Well, I come seeking asylum. I was a transgender activist in Guatemala, and I find as being a transgender person in Guatemala is pretty much dangerous. Being an activist is the double dangerous because the media attention comes into you, so that makes you a target, target and more vulnerable from attacks and, um, extra-judicial execution and, um, discrimination from people. For me, is dangerous to live in Guatemala as a transgender person because there are no rights for transgender persons in Guatemala. People when they are very young, they are, um, thrown out of the family circles, they are thrown out of um, jobs and educational institutions because of your gender identity, and also for your sexual orientation, so is dangerous to be gay in Guatemala, but is double-dangerous to be transgender in Guatemala because you are the obvious part of the community.
Interviewer: And what happened that made you want to escape?
Fernanda: Well, I was attacked by a police officer. I have been attacked many times by civil, um, civilians, but this time was different because I was attacked by a police, and, um, previous years there have been, um, police attacks for transgender activists in, um, precisely the organization that I work with, that is called Oasis, and I was afraid of [sic] my life.
If I come back to Guatemala, I would get killed, I would get prosecuted. I might get tortured. But, um, I seek asylum because I think I have the right to save my life. Because I think I have the right to, uh, have a safe space where I can develop as a human rights activist and I can develop as a human being. And I think it is important to understand that in Third World countries where people is, um, killed, assassinated, violated, abuse is the right of the civilians just because of their gender orientation. I mean, we all as a world, we are responsible for this; but in cases where you are more vulnerable because you have been trying to do the right thing for your community, I mean, is where the whole civilization world should grant protection to a person who is trying to make, uh, the society a better place. I was placed in Sandholm, as everybody know, in a men’s guard, and I was harassed, abused, raped by asylum-seekers. To put a woman, or a transgender woman between men who are alone, who need distraction, who need justice, and I don’t think anyone else could think that the outcome of this situation would be any different.
I escaped from Sandholm, already have—have contact with people, and, um, I can involve them in a situation that I have been running away from, you know? In Guatemala there was people, or transgender women, mostly they are, um, forced to be sexual workers because there is no other opportunity. I don’t have any opinion about sexual work, but it shouldn’t be forced, it shouldn’t be because you don’t have another choice. And I have tried to avoid that situation a lot, but when I came here and I escaped from San Holman and find, um, these people, I felt like I didn’t have another choice. And, um, of course I did it, and I don’t think that I don’t have any responsibility in it, I also have a responsibility in it, but there’s people who take advantage of your vulnerable situation, and they traffic people. They play with people’s bodies, you know, those who get, um, money.
As a society you should be aware and should be responsible for what your government do. This is not a decision of one person, this is a decision of a country to grant protection to people who is in need. So, I ask people to demand to their government to agree to the Article 19 in the [EU], and um, grant asylum to the people who is prosecuted for their gender identity or their sexual orientation.
Halmtorvet 11c, 1711
Save Fernanda Milan
Stop the deportation of trans people.
Support UN – Human Rights Convention, Article 19
SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST DEPORTATION
JOIN THE FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN
Milan was originally scheduled to be deported this past Monday (September 17). At the last minute, she was granted a stay “by Flygtningenævnet, the government’s refugee board, to revisit her application for asylum” (quote from The Copenhagen Post). From the press release put out by the T-Refugee project:
Following protests from asylum activists, human rights organisations and researchers, the refugee board has just suspended the deportation of Fernanda Milan. “This is only half the battle,” says the asylum initiative, T-Refugee Project. …
Lisa Rasmussen from T-Refugee Project…: ”Now I do not know if we have to hold this meeting. We are not under the same time pressure now. If the Refugee Board is to examine the case over the next few months, we have more time to find out what legal options we have, if she is again refused asylum. ” …
For Fernanda Milán herself, her spirits are obviously high: “This is half the battle. We have proved that it works to fight for justice. We are only halfway, but resumption of the case gives me strength to fight for my life again.”
Activist and writer Flavia Dzodan said that “until [Milan] is in possession of a valid residence permit, they can deport her on short notice. But let’s cross fingers that actually [the Danish government] reviews her case and do issue the permit. It CAN happen.”
As far as what we can do to help at this point, Dzodan explains that the best thing is “creating awareness by sharing her story. She is an activist, the more who know about her work and her situation, the more the Danish government is pressured to do the right thing. European governments are not very keen on being shamed internationally because of their double standards, which is why the campaign to get her review worked. It has worked in The Netherlands in the past as well, that’s how I know they might do the right thing.”
For more information:
- Save Fernanda Milan page on Facebook
- Save Fernanda Milan on Twitter (@SaveFernandaMil)
- T-Refugee’s main website
- T-Refugee page on Facebook
- A petition you can sign to stop the deportation of Milan from Denmark
- Janet Mock has posted a lot about this on her Tumblr (also follow @janetmock on Twitter)
- Flavia Dzodan wrote about Milan in a post for Tiger Beatdown, “Feminism Has Abandoned Me”
Please leave any other pertinent links below in comments.