Trans woman sets herself on fire in Georgia’s capital to protest the country’s horrendous negligence during coronavirus

Georgia Tbilisi

A trans woman in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, set herself on fire in protest against the country’s treatment of transgender people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Madona Kiparoidze set fire to herself outside the capital’s city hall on Thursday, April 30. She was chased by police, according to Planet Transgender, who removed her flaming clothes and then arrested her.

After being detained, she shouted: “I am a transgender woman, and I’m setting myself on fire because the Georgian state doesn’t care about me.”

She was later taken to hospital by ambulance, but has reportedly communicated with others since then and said she does not have life-threatening injuries.

Tamaz Sozashvili, the co-founder of Tbilisi Pride, wrote on Twitter: “Today, [a] trans woman tried to commit a suicide in front of Tbilisi City Hall to protest [the Georgian government’s] immobility and ignorance towards them during COVID-19 crisis.

“Trans people are among most vulnerable groups in Georgia.”

Georgia only allows trans people to change their legal gender by going through expensive, and for some people unnecessary, surgery. Many trans people are unable to find work because of widespread discrimination.

According to LGBTQ Nation, Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG) in Georgia issued a statement in March about how trans women are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement urged the government: “Consider women engaged in sex work, especially transgender women, as a group of special needs and help them according to their needs, for most of them lack moral and financial support from their own families.

“Furthermore, many of them live on rent, which they are unable to cover and they cannot afford to meet their basic needs in social distancing conditions due to the specificity of their work.”

Last summer, Tbilisi Pride had to be called off due to threats of far-right violence.

Before the Pride march was due to go ahead, the Georgian Orthodox Church released a statement in which it demanded the Georgian government stop the event.

The church said Tbilisi Pride was “totally unacceptable” and would provoke “disorder and confrontation”.

It added: “The lifestyle that the LGBT+ people are engaged in is the sin of sodom and thus contradicts both Christian faith and the teachings of traditional religions and moral values ​​in general.”