“Today, I am free. Free from the threat of violence, free to love whom I love, and be who I want to be.”
Ever since I was a teenager, I always dreamed of moving to another country like France. As a queer person in Russia, I faced much backlash for who I was, how I presented, and whom I loved. I had to learn to live a life in secrecy. As a trans man I feel it is important to share with you my story and why asylum is life saving for LGBTQ immigrants.
In 2008, I met my current partner and fell in love with them. Before my transition, we presented as lesbian women and faced much opposition because of it. If anyone saw us being too affectionate on the street, we faced danger. It was clear Russia was not a safe place for me.
Since I never presented in a gender conforming way, getting a job was also incredibly difficult. Potential employers explained my gender expression was ‘unprofessional,’ and wouldn’t invite me in for interviews. I had the credentials and experience, but no one would give me a chance because of my gender identity or sexual orientation.
We worked hard and saved enough money to come to the United States, and with the help of Immigration Equality, we applied for asylum.
Being granted asylum gave me a chance to be myself.
In 2017, I began transitioning and knew that once I started this process there was no way I could return home. In Russia, I would not be able to be myself or live freely without fear of harassment.
Today, I am free. Free from the threat of violence, free to love whom I love, and be who I want to be. I feel good knowing I can’t be sent back to Russia where I will be persecuted for my orientation or gender identity.
I now live comfortably in the safety of this country with my loving partner. Looking back on my journey, I am very grateful to be where I am today. I have a career that I love and a place that I can call my home. I hope my story can bring visibility to how important asylum is for LGBTQ immigrants being able to live authentically as themselves.