Update: Here is an article discussing the 11th hour reprieve Fernanda received from the Danish refugee board. She has not been granted asylum as of this time.


Fernanda Milan, a Guatemalan born trans woman, has been living as a refugee in Denmark for the past several years. Fernanda, who was a public face in the movement for trans rights in her home country, fled for her safety as Guatemala has a particularly awful human rights record where trans women are concerned, and she was aware that her safety was quickly deteriorating. In Fernanda’s own words

I know no transgender people in Guatemala older than 35 and many of my friends have been killed. When I was repeatedly attacked by members of the public and police officers, I decided that I had to do something to save my life.

I fled to Denmark, because I had heard that it was a good country for minorities.

Fernanda Milan

Fernanda Milan

Unfortunately, much of her time in Denmark has not turned out particularly kind, either. Fernanda was initially housed in the mens’ section of a Red Cross camp for asylum seekers called Sandholm, outside of Copenhagen. She was first denied her hormone treatments; later she ended up fleeing in the middle of the night, almost immediately following an incident in which she was gang-raped by several men.

Following this time, Fernanda ended up in a brothel in Jutland, before she was taken in by an anti-trafficking organization who have housed her for the last year and a half (in a womens’ facility, with no problems, of course). However, her request for asylum in Denmark was recently rejected, and she was initially assigned a deportation date of September 17. At least, that immediate deportation seems to have been temporarily halted, however her situation is still very uncertain.

Hence I would ask people to please sign the petition here to stop Fernanda’s deportation (Janet Mock has provided a translation for the petition here).

Luckily, there has been incredible outpouring of support for Fernanda, both in Denmark and abroad, including protests in Denmark and at Danish embassies across Europe. As I have mentioned previously, I lived in Copenhagen briefly back in 2009, and I feel lucky to have several amazing friends who have been involved in supporting Fernanda on the ground in Denmark. However, I have to say I am somewhat unsurprised at the current situation, given that during my time in Denmark I noticed that the support system and laws regarding trans issues were pretty conservative (e.g., it was easier for me to obtain my legal name change and gender marker change as a resident of Texas than it would have been as a citizen of Denmark). Indeed, it turns out to be the case that Denmark is one of the three European European countries who have chosen to opt-out of Euro-zone asylum standards that mandated gender identity as a basis for claiming asylum back in 2011.

Here Fernanda describes her own situation and eloquently makes the case for those seeking asylum based on gender identity or sexual orientation:


For more information join up with the campaign to support Fernanda on facebook, and again please sign the petition.