CBS News faced a growing backlash on social media Tuesday after the agency published an article discussing “transgender acceptance in Ukraine” as the country struggles to fend off hundreds of thousands of Russian invaders.
“Transgender acceptance in Ukraine is not widespread, and changing legal documents to match gender requires a long process with psychiatric examinations. CBS News spoke with one woman in Kyiv who is now battling a ‘war within a war’ amid Russia’s invasion,” posted CBS News on Twitter.
Zi Faámelu was born and raised in Crimea, an area of Ukraine that was invaded and taken over by Russia in 2014. Now the 31-year-old lives in Kyiv, the capital city that has been under Russian siege for nearly a week. She is running out of food and hasn’t left her house for days as gunfire erupts outside.
And she says she can’t leave.
Faámelu, who is transgender, said that transphobia is pervasive in the city and neighboring countries, and fears that if she leaves, the tension of the ongoing conflict will make her more susceptible to violence. Faámelu was previously a popular contestant on the Ukrainian singing competition show “Star Factory.”
“Sometimes we think it’s just all a dream, that we’re stuck inside some kind of a video game. Because you just live in a quiet society, and then you hear bombings and you wake up to the sound of bombings,” she said. “…A few hours ago I heard bombings and my windows were shaking. … I’m literally scared for my life.”
For days, Faámelu said, she has had to keep the lights off in her apartment and keep the windows closed. She lives alone, her friends have all left the city, and she said it seems like she may be one of the only people left in her building at all. She lives near a building in Kyiv that had been hit by a missile.