A trans woman seeking asylum in the Netherlands has alleged she was told to ‘cut deeper’ by a shelter officer after twice attempting to take her own life.
Seeking to remain anonymous, the woman claimed that the Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers (COA), which offers relief for asylum seekers, put her ‘on the street for a week’ without a cellphone, money, medication, insurance, or any form of identification.
LGBT Asylum Support, a crucial Dutch support group, has spoken about the COA’s treatment of the woman as ‘inhumane.’
What happened in the Netherlands?
Upon their arrival in the Netherlands, asylum seekers are entitled to reception from the moment they apply for asylum until authorities grant them residence.
COA is an independent administrative body; though, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Security is politically responsible for it.
But in a damning statement from LGBT Asylum Support, they have revealed how COA employees reportedly mistreated a trans asylum seeker, referred to as ‘C.’
The group’s president, Sandro Kortekaas, told Gay Star News that after she twice attempted to end her own life, a COA officer told C to ‘next time, cut it deeper.’
Moreover, she received no pastoral care after her two attempts.
C was then placed in the EBTL shelter in Hoogeveen. This reception center-type is for seekers who ’cause nuisance,’ the COA website specified.
It is, to Kortekaas, ‘a sort of prison. The care for trans people is minimum.
‘It is a mix of criminal persons but also refugees who need psycholical care.’
‘She was treated as a man’
But COA staff allegedly then ‘put [her] on the street for a week’ in what the president called ‘degrading.’ This was on the same day she tried to take her own life twice.
According to a second press release from LGBT Asylum Support, seen by Gay Star News in advance, the ‘COA put her on the street twice for a week.
‘She was treated as a man and not as transgender,’ the first press release added, in ‘a situation that has become unsustainable.’
‘As an outside proportional measure, she was put on the street for a week without ID card, without insurance papers, without a debit card, without medicine, without a telephone, without a day train ticket, and without any network.
‘That’s unacceptable. After a series of imposed measures by the COA, we have had consultations with the location manager who did not directly offer a solution.’
Netherlands Doctor ‘refused’ to give C access to hormones
Furthermore, according to the first press release, C was not allowed access to hormonal treatments, so was ‘suffering from mood swings.’
‘The Gza doctor connected to the shelter refused these for unclear reasons,’ it added.
‘This is not only about not providing hormones to transgender people in the shelter, which is still common,’ Kortekaas said.
‘This also concerns the rights of this group, such as a form of address and security.’
As a result, LGBT Asylum Support have paid for weekly hormone treatment for C. Alongside fundraising to get her out of the asylum system.
A condition of being held in an EBTL is that asylum seekers ‘do not receive financial benefits,’ according to the website.
While staying outside of the shelter, C must register twice a week at the COA.
‘COA treats vulnerable people at shelter center in a careful manner’
The group said they have sent a letter to the State Secretary for Justice and Security, Ankie Broekers-Knol. As well as the House of Representatives (the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal).
5In the second press release, it added that the letter was discussed in the general meeting of the Justice and Security parliamentary committee.
‘”I know the points: COA treats vulnerable people at shelter center in a careful manner,” was the State Secretary’s answer.’
The group have since started crowdfunding for C. The money raised being used to pay for her living expenses and guest housing.
COA responds: We ’empathize with the situation of C’
The COA told Gay Star News that ‘we empathize with the situation of C and understand that this must be difficult.’
However, ‘due to the General Data Protection Regulation applicable in the Netherlands, COA cannot address this or any individual case.’
In the statement, the institution official clarified that the EBTL ‘measure is imposed when a resident exhibits unacceptable behavior.
‘All employees are professionals trained to guide residents in a respectful way, taking into account the personal circumstances of residents. ‘
It added: ‘Transgender treatment is, in accordance with policy, in principle excluded from the Asylum Seekers Medical Care Regulations.
‘The reason for this is that as long as the residence status is not yet known treatments that may not be able to continue in the country of origin, will not be started.
‘When an asylum seeker has already started transitioning in their country of origin, hormone treatment can be continued.
‘This requires a medical decision by a doctor and COA has no influence on these decisions. ‘