Italy’s coronavirus vaccine rollout will forcibly out transgender and non-binary people, campaigners warn

Italy forcibly outs trans people by segregating COVID-19 vaccine by gender

Italy’s segregated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine by gender will forcibly out transgender people, campaigners have warned.

As part of the EU’s mass vaccination programme, which will make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all adult EU citizens by the end of 2021, the first Italian person was vaccinated on 27 December.

Days later, pictures of a vaccination station in Bologna showed that people being offered the COVID-19 vaccine were being divided into two groups based on gender.

The process of legal gender recognition in Italy is long, expensive and hard to access, meaning that many trans and non-binary people have official documents with incorrect gender markers, activists have warned.

Trans Group APC, a coalition of trans and non-binary people in Italy, says that the high number of trans people without legal gender recognition, coupled with segregating the COVID-19 vaccine by gender, will lead to trans people who want to receive the vaccine being forcibly outed.

This barrier could also exclude trans people from being vaccinated, Trans Group APC said in a Facebook post.

“It is now known that in a country like Italy, which still requires a long and expensive legal process in court to access the registry adjustment, many people are not in possession of a document that reflects them in their daily social relations for their own perceived gender identity,” the group said,

“Asking to place ourselves in these ‘men’ / ‘women’ rows on the basis of personal sex often amounts to exposing ourselves to a forced coming out, in environments not prepared to welcome it, and to the violation of our right to privacy.

“Our lives matter, as does our right to health.”

Italian LGBT+ media outlet Gay Post proposed a solution, writing that the COVID-19 vaccination rollout could instead be divided into alphabetical groups.

“A division in alphabetical order could be envisaged, in such a way as to respect the need for non-binary and transgender people not to expose themselves,” the Gay Post posited.

Registration of patients could include collecting information on people’s sex assigned at birth and gender identity, without breaching trans and non-binary people’s right to privacy: “Maybe even through specific forms that takes into account all the variants involved.

“We have computers that make it easy to record data. We could even use them.”

Italy’s gender segregation of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout mirrors the gendered lockdowns of several countries earlier this year, which sparked alarm among trans communities.