Oksana

Oksana (2015)
HD video, sound, color, 16:9
11:21 minutes

I came to terms with my identity since childhood. I always knew that I was a girl and I tried to say it to my parents but they suppressed it very strongly. I then started to suppress it myself. I started to consciously develop male characteristics and I succeeded: I am firm, courageous, I am decisive and I have the ability to take on responsibilities. I usually call these qualities “male features.” Many women possess such qualities but our society does not approve of them. Society presumes that a woman should be tender, compliant and family oriented.

When I was about 30 years old the dysphoria got to me so strongly that it led me to a suicide attempt. I tried to shoot myself while hunting. The gun failed to fire and I understood that it was a sign of fate. I decided to go through the transition and to start hormonal therapy.   

I then met Angelina. The war started and we relocated to Kiev. We created our public organization and I found a job. My colleagues respect my gender identity. I don’t work at an LGBT organization; it is a law firm. I was promoted to the leading lawyer in one year.

I made a court appeal against Act # 60 of the Ministry of Health. In particular against the medical contraindications, which prohibit transgender people who have children and who don’t have a job or a permanent residence to undergo gender reassignment procedures. We began this process because one of our girls has a child. Like me, she moved to Kiev and lost her home because of the fighting Eastern Ukraine. She had also been given a fake diagnosis. So I reestablished her diagnosis to "transsexualism," according to the International Classification of Diseases. I then went through a number of court proceedings and made an appeal against that part of the Act.

At the moment, gender transition is based on Article #51 of the Healthcare Act, which states that change of gender can be done only on the basis of a personal declaration, with due regard to medical indications/contraindications and after appropriate medical intervention. This sphere is regulated by the state and the juridical recognition of one’s gender identity is only possible after medical intervention. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has pointed out many times that this Act violates human rights. And PARE has made similar declarations. We started the procedure to repeal the Act but the process is not easy. We began the development of a new standard of public health and of a unified clinical protocol on the issue of gender dysphoria that could replace this Act. First, the Commission, which is in fact an extra link, has to be abolished. It will define the notion of gender self-determination and of the appropriate medical treatment based on every person’s personal needs.

We started by writing many letters to the Ministry. In every letter we provided very strong argumentation. We were supported by members of the Commission and by the staff of the Research Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry. They helped us a lot. At first we had the paradoxical situation where we had demonized the members of the Commission. We considered them our enemies. But after working with them we realized that they too wanted to change the norm in favor of transgender persons. The Commission is a hostage of the legislation. They are restricted to making decisions concerning the issuing of medical certificates only after surgery. It has become accepted in the medical field that surgery means a complete vaginoplasty for trans women and metoidioplasty for trans men. All these surgeries involve the removal of organs and are very difficult to perform. Not everyone can agree to them and not everyone can afford them financially. The health care service is free but there is a problem with specialists and surgeons. Patients have to go abroad to Russia, Thailand and Belarus.

A transgender boy from Khartsisk lived not far from my house. He could not change his documents, as he hadn’t undergone any surgical interventions. He hardly managed to escape from the Russian occupied territory. He was attacked several times. A transgender person faces many problems until they change their documents, until their appearance corresponds with the gender role they choose. I know some transgender people who have stayed in the occupied territory. They have to hide because the DNR have announced that they see no differences between transgender people and gays. My friends have informed me that the self-proclaimed DNR militia has shot gays. It has happened in Yasynutava and in Donetsk. My friend witnessed this. He saw how they shot them and where they buried them.

It is difficult to speak about the situation in the occupied territory because when the fighting began many people moved to the big land and others to Russia. Only those who can hide very well stayed behind. I am mostly talking about transsexuals, because transgender persons constitute a very diverse group. We are not so many, because only a few amongst us can live up to the transition. Many people take their own lives, many are driven to despair and others develop mental illnesses or simply give up.

I am a nationalist and a patriot. I love my people. I love my homeland. Nationalism is not the hate of others. It is love for everything that you consider yours. The fact that radicals exist means they have a problem. Their patriotism hasn’t developed since the 1940s. It is very important for them to overcome the German inheritance of the Third Reich. For the genesis of a nationalist that is a natural process. I don’t hide the fact that I was attracted to the ideology of the Third Reich for some time. As the years went by it helped me to understand human rights better. The ideology of hate has helped me discover and understand the values of life and the values of other people. 

All of you are different. It doesn’t matter what your attitude towards me is: Whether you consider me a hero or whether you hate me or despise my gender identity... I can simply say: Love your homeland and love your nation in all its diversity, because this diversity is what constitutes our Ukraine.