Italy's Segregated Vaccine Rollout May Exclude Transgender Population

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 7, 2021

Gender binary-based segregation in Italy's COVID-19 vaccine rollout threatens to out transgender and non-binary people against their will, Pink News reports.

The first vaccination received by an Italian citizen was administered on December 27. A few days later, pictures emerged of a Bologna vaccination station where people receiving the vaccine were divided into two groups based on gender.

Often, transgender and non-binary Italian residents hold official documents that incorrectly identify their gender identity or non-conformity because the legal process for accurate recognition can be time consuming and expensive.

In addition to forcibly outing trans and non-binary people, Trans Group APC — a coalition of trans and non-binary people in Italy — warns that segmenting the population could entirely exclude trans people from vaccination.

"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."

Gay Post, an Italian LGBTQ media outlet, instead proposes that the government administer COVID-19 vaccinations to groups organized by alphabetical order, protecting trans and non-binary people from outing themselves against their will. Furthermore, patient registration could include both sexes assigned at birth and the person's accurate gender identity without breaching anyone's right to privacy. The Gay Post points out, "we have computers that make it easy to record data. We could even use them."

One of the first Western countries to be hit hard by COVID-19, Italy managed to get the new infections under control, only to be walloped again in the fall, according to Associated Press. The Center for Disease Control currently ranks Italy at level 4, with a "very high level of COVID-19" and cautions against travel to the country.

This isn't the first time Italy has come under scrutiny for its treatment of the LGBTQ population. Last year, there was a debate surrounding a bill that would make hate speech and violent acts against LGBTQ people a hate crime — there are currently no hate crimes laws protecting LGBTQ people in Italy.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.