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[News] “I wanted to resume my transition at all costs”: Trans Ukrainians uprooted by war fight to continue their treatments


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After years of waiting, dozens of tests, and a two-week stay on a psychiatric ward, Eric finally received his first testosterone injection. Eric is a 23-year-old transgender man from Ukraine. Designated female at birth, he says starting hormone therapy was an important step in his quest to become his true self.

“It was absolute happiness. I was elated, it was the moment I had been waiting for a long time," Eric, who asked that his last name not be used because of concerns for his safety in Chisinau, Moldova, told CNN in July.

But just days after Eric received what should have been the first in a series of testosterone injections administered at a clinic in Kyiv, Russia invaded Ukraine. And everything changed.

“The clinic had closed due to the danger of air raids. I had the testosterone, but there was no way they would give it to me. I didn't have the needles and there was a huge shortage of everything in the pharmacies, even the most basic things, because obviously, during the war, there was a great need for things like syringes,” Eric said.

Russia's brutal assault on Ukraine has changed the lives of millions of Ukrainians. But for Eric and many other trans people, the war has also made it much harder to be who they are.

Many lost access to vital medicines and psychological help. Some were completely cut off from their communities and forced to live in spaces where LGBTQ people are not welcome, according to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Bureaucratic issues, such as having personal documents issued under another gender, can put them at extra risk.

Ukrainian transgender rights group Cohort says it has helped more than 1,500 people since the start of the war, helping them move to safer areas and pay their bills. The NGO also works with shelters to make sure they have the basic supplies they need.

But the request Cohort has received the most in recent months is for hormone therapy, or HRT, in English, according to Anastasiia Yeva Domani, the organization's co-founder and chief executive.

HRT can be used by trans women, trans men, and non-binary people to make their physical appearance more aligned with their gender identity. The drugs alter the body's testosterone or estrogen levels, causing physical changes that normally occur during puberty.

As with other medicines, Ukraine's hormone supplies have been severely limited since the start of the war. Supply chains are often disrupted by fighting and buying abroad is becoming more difficult as the collapse in the value of the Ukrainian currency has made imports much more expensive, Domani said.



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