Fatima Romanova wears an understated black shirt and brown pants, but a colorful glittery t-shirt peeks out underneath; her hair is stylishly short and combed on the right. She waits tables at a café in Tbilisi's old district, decorated with flowers and paintings on the wall. One of the paintings is of a girl in a flowery dress and red shoes.
“I love dresses, I’m a girl and of course I want to wear them, but I choose not to, for my safety,” Fatima said.
In her passport, Fatima, 27, has a different name -- a man's -- that she asked not be published. She is transgender, but now opts to express herself in public as a man after suffering a series of brutal attacks three years ago. In one she was attacked on the street by a group of men; in another a man with whom Fatima had been friendly learned that she was transgender, became angry, and threw her out of a moving car in the center of the city.
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Tamar Kikacheishvili is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.