On the evening of 12 February 2008, MtF transsexual B (initials changed for confidentiality purposes) was riding a city bus home from Osh Bazaar (central food market in Bishkek). On the way a woman elbowed B rather harshly, to which B responded with words of indignation. One by one, a squabble ensued between the two. On the terminal station, when the two wrangling women left the bus, there was already the offending woman’s husband waiting for them. Learning about that squabble from her earlier via mobile connection, he was there to back the woman up in that altercation. As the squabble continued, he raised his hand to strike B – and soon found out her biological sex. Violent beating ensued, most possibly based on the violator’s transphobia.
The man was caught by militia officer while he was beating B. At first, the officers intended to arrest him, however their intentions changed when the aggressor told them that B was not a biological woman. B was then taken to a hospital for a check-up on presence of alcohol in her blood, after which she was taken to the nearest militia station. While she was writing an explanatory note, the aggressor and his originally offending wife had already submitted a statement, in which they accused B of hooliganism and beating up the offending woman.
While at the police station, B was asked to submit her passport as a guarantee of her appearance at the judicial sitting to be ruling her case. But as she did not have her passport readily available, they requested passports of her sister and her sister’s husband. This contradicts Kyrgyz legislation; however the case abounds with similar contradictions and violations. For example, along with holding her relatives’ passports illegally, case investigator and public lawyer have also demanded that B submit about 7,000 soms as bribe in exchange for commuting her punishment. Otherwise, she would be imprisoned for 3 years, they said. The investigator and public lawyer have already received 3,500 soms, for which B had to sell her TV and DVD-player – and are now expecting the rest.
Currently B is under the written undertaking not to leave Bishkek. Yesterday Labrys programme department coordinator accompanied B to a law clinic, and later to the police station. Today she is to undergo a psychiatric examination to assess her accountability. It remains unknown whether this was caused by her gender identity or not. However, it has been finally clarified by Labrys programme coordinator that B is charged with article 334 of the Kyrgyz Republic Criminal Code (hooliganism). B herself did not know till now what she was incriminated with, as she does not understand Russian. It must be noted that according to Kyrgyz legislation, a case must be administered in the language that the defendant understands. With the help of Labrys programme coordinator B also managed obtaining the passport of her sister’s husband back. According to B, the husband was beating her sister on a daily basis for submitting his passport for B’s perceived benefit.
It must be noted that the lawyer from “Juridical Assistance” law clinic was not very happy to help B and Labrys in this case. She directly displayed her dislike of a person, whose appearance contradicts her biological sex. Regardless of this intolerant treatment, Labrys and B had to ask for her assistance as there were no other options. At last, the lawyer gave her consent to cooperate, but only after Labrys sends an official request for assistance to her clinic.
Whether transphobic or not, this case indicates that there is a long way for Kyrgyzstan to be under the rule of law. Legislation can be cynically manipulated here for the benefit of those, who know how to do that. While those who have no specialized knowledge of law suffer – especially our fellow LGBT members, who in addition to corruption of law enforcement must deal also with the burden of homo- and transphobia.