A transgender woman on hunger strike in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in protest against a recent clampdown on trans rights, said her arrest on Thursday only made her more determined to campaign for equality.
Gabriela Bankova, a 32-year-old software architect, told Openly on Friday that she was prepared to die in the cause of trans rights. “I intend to continue this protest indefinitely until the Bulgarian people hear me and understand me,” Bankova said in a telephone interview from her one-woman protest outside the city’s Palace of Justice. “I want to see the inhuman, anti-constitutional laws removed and laws created in Bulgaria to ensure that trans people will be able to be treated with dignity, be able to transition, be able to receive medical care and be able to have the exact same freedom and rights as every other person in this country,” she said. “I will continue to not eat for as long as that takes, or until my life is ended.” In February, Bulgaria’s Supreme Court ruled that trans people would no longer be able to change their documents in line with their identity, effectively outlawing legally transitioning gender.
Bankova started her protest on Monday, saying she would not consume “anything with calories” until her aims were met. On Thursday, she was arrested by police for reportedly not having proper identification papers.
While Bankova said she had been treated fairly and with respect by most of the officers, others at the police station had been abusive. “One of them called me ‘it’ and ‘a creature’ and was very aggressive,” Bankova said.