Danni Askini is a trans activist from Seattle. Despite having the State Department deny her request for a passport renewal, she is now seeking asylum in Sweden.
Who is Danni Askini?
Askini has long been a LGBTI activist and outspoken critic of the Trump Administration. In Seattle, she spearheaded a lawsuit against Trump’s proposed transgender military ban. She’s also run for office, started a non-profit, and campaigned against transphobic bathroom bills.
Why she fled the United States
Seattle Weekly exclusively reported Askini’s story and her journey to Sweden.
Between May and June of 2018, Askini was harassed by white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups online. According to Melissa Hellmann of Seattle Weekly, Askini received rape and death threats, and her family was doxed (the practice of publicizing one’s personal information for malicious intent). She began her escape from the United States in July. A United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights detailed Askini’s case in a letter.
Askini has since deleted her social media accounts.
Stuck in Sweden
Askini’s choice of Sweden was not random. She previously lived in the country for ten years and has an ex-husband who still resides there, according to Seattle Weekly’s report.
When Askini’s passport renewal was denied, she was granted a temporary one thanks to Seattle-based congresswoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, which has since expired. Now, Askini is stuck in Sweden and deeply fears returning to the United States.
She worries she may be imprisoned or detained by ICE if the State Department doesn’t accept proof of her United States citizenship, despite being born in Maine.
Though she believes her chances to be slim, Askini is seeking asylum in Sweden due to these fears.
The Swedish government already denied her request for legal representation. Her asylum hearing was meant to take place on 19 November, but was rescheduled for sometime this coming week.
‘I am a Trump refugee,’ Askini told Seattle Weekly. ‘His presidency has caused the situation that put me here.’
Askini does not want to return to the United States unless the State Department can guarantee she won’t be accused of having fraudulently obtained her old passport. This felony offense could lead to up to ten years in prison. As a transgender woman, prison is something else she deeply fears due to the rampant abuse of trans inmates.
In total, Askini has sought the advice of 16 lawyers about her confusing case.
Even if she is not granted asylum, Askini intends to keep appealing. She may even try other countries.
‘Like Oliver Twist, I’ll hold out my bowl and ask for more porridge from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or some[where],’ she told Hellman.