One of the main areas of our work under the National LGBTI Legal Programme in Deystvie is the handling of gender reassignment cases. Today we present to you D.V. - a trans man from Ruse who agreed to share his story with all of us.
1. Hello! We are extremely grateful to you for deciding to stand with your face in front of the Bulgarian LGBTI community. Please tell us a few things about yourself and your transition (if you are comfortable).
Hello! I am originally from Rousse, but lived in St. Louis, Missouri for a long time. I am currently 26 years old and studying medicine. My dream is to be a surgeon and help people who are trans or intersex through hormone therapy and surgery. I started my change back in 2014 when I was 18 years old. That's when I started my appointments with a psychiatrist, who after 6 months confirmed that I could take the next step and see an endocrinologist who would prescribe hormone therapy. Not long after, I started taking testosterone, which I take to this day. In 2017, I decided to complete my transformation and undergo breast removal surgery. Being in the US at the time, I was very easily able to change my gender identity on my ID and passport. Legally, all I needed were the opinions of my psychiatrist and endocrinologist.
I made the decision to change my personal documents in Bulgaria in order to avoid the strange reactions and the many questions I was asked every time at airports and the cases in which it was necessary to provide my personal documents because they still stated that I was a woman. This was the main reason I sought Deystvie.
2. How did you feel when you found out that you had to file a case in Bulgaria because there is no other procedure for changing your gender, name and registration number?
I assumed it would be very complicated in my home country because of the lack of a procedure with clear steps - which documents were required, what I needed to fill out and where to go. In Bulgaria I didn't even know where to start. I remember asking questions in different groups in order to find out more. They helped me get in touch with lawyers and Deystvie who immediately offered their help. I was aware that the process would take longer - more than a year.
3. How did the case proceed?
Thanks to Deystvie, my involvement in the case was relatively small. It was necessary to provide my US documents, submit applications to the institutions and evidence that I was on hormone therapy. However, the process itself was extremely arduous and slow. 4. How did you feel when several doctors refused to examine you?
I did not take their refusals personally, but I still felt uncomfortable because we are all human, we are all seeking our rights and we all want to live a normal life. Also, when I went to the endocrinologist, psychiatrist and psychologist who agreed to examine me, they were not honest and understanding with me. It was obvious they had no expertise. They had not met a person like me. I was an alien to them. The thing that bothered me the most was their willingness to put me in a hospital for a period of two weeks in order to examine me? I found this extremely strange and flatly refused. Why is it necessary for a perfectly healthy person to enter a hospital?! I could not feel confident and trust the Bulgarian health system.
5. What impressed you in your work with Deystvie?
If it weren't for Deystvie, I don't think I would have made it on my own. They helped me enormously throughout the process, from finding specialists who agreed to examine me so that I could get their expertise, which could then be presented in court, to getting the new documents which said I was a man. I hope that more people from the community in a similar or similar situation will approach Deystvie and also take advantage of the pro bono services they offer.
Since 2014 LGBT Youth Deystvie has been providing free counselling and legal assistance to people from the LGBTI community for violations of their rights. You can register on our legal platform through this link: pravo.deystvie.org.
The main objective of the National LGBTI Legal Programme project is to empower the LGBTI community by providing direct access to legal protection through the National LGBTI Legal Programme in the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and Veliko Tarnovo. The filing of cases leads to official national statistics and official coverage of an existing problem, which in turn will lead to changes in legislation and improved lives for LGBTI people in Bulgaria.
The programme provides free counselling and legal assistance to LGBTI individuals, partners, families and their children who are victims of hate crimes, discrimination or other incidents with a discriminatory motive of sexual orientation or gender expression.
This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of this document lies with LGBT Youth Action and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this document reflects the official position of the EEA Financial Mechanism.