It’s been a hectic but transformative year for Trans Rescue with a lot of stress and plenty of ups and downs, but we’ve come through it and we’re delighted to be able to say that with your help we’ve been able to help over 140 people to safety so far in 2023.
In this review we’re bringing you the work we’ve done this year, something on the passengers we have in transit, some good news about passengers who’ve made it to safety, and news of our upcoming campaigns. Keep reading, and find out what we’ve been up to.
The original impetus behind the formation of our predecessor organisation TransEmigrate was to provide support for American trans people in escaping the increasing number of anti-trans laws in the USA creating a hostile environment in which to be trans. With just over a year until the next US Presidential election we have returned to this topic, launching a campaign to equip American trans people with the support and knowledge they need to reach safety.
With an estimated 1.6 million transgender Americans their numbers are too large for us to help each of them individually. However, because an American passport remains one of the strongest in the world trans American’s needs are very different from the people in developing countries who have occupied much of our attention until now.
Our campaign has started by persuading American trans people to apply for a passport, and will continue by helping them explore the escape options available in the likely event of a far-right government. Without this work we think escape will only be a realistic option for the wealthy, so our aim is to lower the hurdles to the point at which it becomes practical for many more. There are a huge number of American trans people who we think can get themselves out if they have the right information and encouragement, these are the target audience we are trying to reach.
By far our biggest operation this year started in the spring, when we found ourselves the only outside LGBT organization with access to a network on the ground in Uganda as the government there enacted a series of measures criminalizing LGBT people.
We had an extensive presence in Kenya already, and had helped a few trans people in late 2022 in Uganda. So we were, awkwardly, one of the few global organizations with an existing program in Uganda. This placed us in the position of taking what would turn out to be a prominent position in the movement to help Ugandan LGBT people flee. We were rather a small organization to be doing this.
We obtained a generous 40K Euro grant from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to expand our existing trans haven, Eden house, in Nakuru, Kenya. Sadly, the shelter was raided in August by Kenyan police due to the presence of LGBT people. We divided the residents of Eden House into smaller groups and set up safe houses in other cities.
Annie, our director, took a group of Egyptians who were in the house to Tanzania, while Arya, our shelter manager, took a group of Kenyans to the coast. We established a new, smaller shelter for some of the Ugandans, while others moved in with friends. We have ongoing costs to support those passengers who remain in Kenya.
Having now become the target of the Kenyan police, in the end we had to get most of our staff out of Kenya. Arya had to flee Kenya herself. She’s currently in a third country and we’re attempting to relocate her to a permanent place .
Passengers In Transit
We currently have passengers in transit across several regions of the world, in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Americas. In some cases our role is an advisory one for passengers who are self-funding, we are helping others directly with their extraction, and a few more are being supported by us in mid-journey.
As we move towards 2024 we’ll be continuing to work on our America campaign, something which is likely to intensify with the progress of their election.
This new project will involve extensive writing, video production and post production work. If any of you have an interest in helping with the campaign in that way, please drop us a note.
Meanwhile we have our existing in-transit passengers to continue on their way, our growing cadre of former passengers to support in various ways, and our continuing work helping new passengers.
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of an impromptu meeting of five former passengers. In the group most of the former passengers were bright young adults with an impressive array of credentials who will be contributors to the communities in which they now find themselves. This work can be emotionally hard, dangerous, and exhausting, but moments like these keep us going.
We could not do this work without our donors and supporters. We thank you, and we hope that this has given you some ideas of what we have been doing over the last year.
Happy holidays and a happy and safe new year for all of you,
The volunteers of Trans Rescue