This is a guide for transgender people from Ukraine, which will provide them with information on how to safely escape Ukraine and settle in Poland for the time being (if that is the country to which you’ve managed to escape to). In the future we hope that we will be able to provide additional information regarding the situation in other countries you would prefer to settle in.
We know that the Internet is full of various contacts and offers of help, sometimes numerous enough to paralyze and sometimes simply not reachable at the moment or outdated. We aim to provide you with links only to trusted, long term operating organizations with experience of helping LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine and explain your situation using the most relevant information available.
The following guide was prepared by transgender refugee activist from tranzycja.pl (Polish database about all things transgender) and Grupa Granica (coalition of Polish refugee NGOs) based on amazing work and up-to-date knowledge of activists from @lgbtukrainebot helping directly transgender people in Ukraine and connected to both Ukrainian and European LGBTQ+ organizations.
I want to escape from Ukraine
People who can help you in planning that are available 24/7 via Telegram chatbot @lgbtukrainebot. Please remember that Telegram is not encrypted. When you share sensitive data, turn on secret chat. It is important to stay in contact with them and inform them of every step in the journey in case anything goes wrong — they are well connected with other organizations and can come up with solutions.
However there are also things you can prepare beforehand to shorten intervention time. Prepare all your documents and diagnoses, expect you will have to discuss your medical and legal history with people in the chat. They are also LGBTQ and they need this information in order to help you the best way they can. Do not forget to mention your additional medical needs or disabilities.
- Check the Telegram channel of Ukrainian railroads. It is the best you travel first to queer shelters in the cities in the West of Ukraine. People at the chatbox will give you the address details.
- Remember that it is the best not to travel alone — if that’s possible tag to a group of your LGBTQ friends or even other women.
- Remember to dress as feminine as possible, do not speak a lot, keep your mask on at all times. Queues can be very long so it’s best to bring food, warm clothes or even sleeping bags. Train journey itself is described by people who escaped as calm, with little police presence.
- If your city has no railways, reach out to people at chatbox. It is not something anyone can promise, because such things are unpredictable, but they will search for LGBTQ friendly drivers in your area.
Following statements are related to the situation of native Ukrainians. If you are a citizen of another country otherwise exempt from military service but are afraid of attempting escape on the basis of being transgender scroll down till you reach the relevant part or click here.
You will have to go to Voyenkomat. It is an option associated with some risks, but activists are working on ways to mitigate them. You won’t be alone there and activists are able to support you through it.
From your side, remember to collect as many medical documents as possible. The rule is “the more stamps, the better”. Remember about your additional illnesses - if you have any, including mental disorders, it is good to also collect such papers to show at Voyenkomat.
Your situation needs to be analyzed carefully by activists from the chatbox. Things will be harder, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We are all still working on new solutions and ways to help.
Stay where you are and keep people at chatbox updated if anything changes. As of now, there are no 100% safe solutions on how to escape and everything is solved on a case to case basis. Activists in Ukraine and the rest of Europe are working on more permanent solutions, but it is going to take time and a variety of attempts.
How does visit at Voyenkomat looks like?
Voyenkomat is open from 9AM, however, due to queues, it is important to be there earlier. Bring warm clothes and food if possible. Personal belongings will be checked so don’t bring anything potentially dangerous. There can be from one up to three lines (first for registration, second for medical commission and third for lawyer). Activists will try to do their best to make this process as safe as possible for you.
At registration you must insist upon seeing a Military Medical Commission — people should get you a referral. At the Commission, when asked about disability or other diagnoses, you must tell them you have a psychiatric diagnosis and you should be further referred to a psychiatrist. Bring every document you have that proves your diagnosis. If everything goes well, you will receive category A, exempt from military service. Then you’ll need to present papers from a psychiatrist in the office of chief physician. Unfortunately the queue can last for days there. You need to ask for a date at which you can return and get your full documents.
Information for non-Ukrainians
You are exempt from military service, however you can still encounter some issues during your travel, especially if you are a person of color. You should be able to find answers to your questions and support contact on this following page.
Information on border crossings
Regardless of the country you choose to flee to, prepare for long queues. You can wait anywhere from 6 to 24 hours, so prepare for the cold. It can be very hard to get to the bathroom so try to limit your food and water intake while maintaining regard for your own health and safety. Activists from chatbox will advise you what country is currently the best to choose to escape to.
As Grupa Granica we have a separate site where we provide information on the current situation at Polish border crossings. You can check it anytime here.
Our main site showcases a variety of information regarding your legal status as an Ukrainian refugee in Poland and it is worth exploring. It also has contact information if you need any additional support. If you need more detailed information on matters relating to refugee law, team of Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej, legal NGO and part of Grupa Granica prepared specialized portal delving into in-depth legal issues.
I have escaped, I’m in Poland right now
Place to live
There are LGBTQ organizations in practically every bigger city in Poland and all of them are trans-friendly. The same is true for NGOs dedicated to helping refugees, however the accomodation they provide may not always be fully safe for you as a transgender person. Right now, it is the easiest to obtain help in Warszawa and Poznań.
If you are in Warszawa, you can go to Lambda’s Support Centre for Ukrainian LGBTQ+ Refugees at Żurawia 24a lok. 4 00-515 Warsaw, Poland. It is open every day from 9 AM to 9 PM. There you can receive more information about forms of help available for you. To access it you must be vaccinated against COVID-19, you won’t be let inside otherwise You should also fill an online questionnaire detailing your needs before your visit.
Other LGBTQ organizations that provide housing:
- Znaki Równości - Cracow - email@example.com
- Kultura Równości - Wrocław - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hormones or have other medical needs
Due to transphobia and disorganization of the Polish healthcare system, obtaining access to HRT can unfortunately come with some obstacles.
If you are already in a secure location in Poland, you should ask people from the organization that helped you with housing. They should help you get your hormones refill. Technically, Ukrainian refugees are eligible for free healthcare and should be able to easily obtain prescriptions for free, especially in cases of taking medicine on a permanent basis. By law, pharmacist should be obliged to refill your prescription (as described here), but we know cases of refusals.
If you need F64 or psychiatric diagnosis with trans friendly doctor email email@example.com.
If you have AIDS and you need to obtain your medication please refer to here.
In matters relating to your refugee status (it is all registration for appointments contacts, you don’t need to describe your case immediately):
- Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej — +48 880 145 372 (Mon-Fri, 2-4 PM).
- Fundacja Ocalenie — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Polskie Forum Migracyjne — +48 692 913 993, email: email@example.com
- Stowarzyszenie Nomada - Wrocław — +48 791 576 459, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Halina Niec Legal Aid Center - Cracow — +48 693 390 502, email: email@example.com
In matters relating to being LGBTQ+ person Kancelaria Knut Mazurczak (firstname.lastname@example.org) helps in obtaining:
- a medical power of attorney, allowing access to information about the health condition of a partner;
- power of attorney for a social parent, allowing to exercise day-to-day care over a child brought up in a same-sex relationship.
Other areas of expertise are covered by lawyers from:
- Campaign Against Homophobia — email@example.com
- Znaki Równości — Cracow — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kultura Równości — Wrocław — email@example.com
- Olsztyński Marsz Równości — Olsztyn — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Grupa Stonewall — Poznań — email@example.com
- Stowarzyszenie Tęczówka — Katowice — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lambda Szczecin — Szczecin — +48 91 885 17 00, email@example.com
Działamy razem jako Grupa Granica, w składzie: Nomada Stowarzyszenie, Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej, Polskie Forum Migracyjne, Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka, Salam Lab, Dom Otwarty, Centrum Pomocy Prawnej im. Haliny Nieć, CHLEBEM I SOLĄ, uchodźcy.info, RATS Agency, Fundacja Kuchnia Konfliktu, Strefa WolnoSłowa, Przystanek "Świetlica" dla dzieci uchodźców, Egala oraz niezależne aktywistki, aktywiści, mieszkańcy i mieszkanki Pogranicza.