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Deteriorating trans rights in Russia

18 minutes
Deteriorating trans rights in Russia

On June 14, the Russian State Duma passed the first reading of a new bill that would essentially ban every aspect of gender transitions, from changing your gender marker in official documents to health care like hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgeries. The only exceptions would be for people with “congenital physiological anomalies,” meaning intersex people, and even then it would only be possible in state hospitals after review by a medical panel.

Russia has never been a safe or comfortable place for trans people, but until now, it’s at least been possible for them to legally and medically transition. Since the start of the full-scale war, though, Russia’s leaders have actively begun demonizing LGBTQ+ people, painting them as an existential threat to the country being exported by the West. In October, for example, one lawmaker said Russian troops in Ukraine are fighting for “families to consist of a mom, a dad, and children — not some guy, some other guy, and some other who-knows-what.”

To learn about how the new legislation and the rise in official anti-trans rhetoric is likely to affect trans Russians, Meduza spoke to Nef Cellarius, an activist from the LGBTQ+ rights group Coming Out; Anna-Maria Tesfaye, one of the cofounders of the organization Queer Svit; and a trans woman currently living in Russia.

Timestamps for this episode:

  • (2:58) The main challenges facing trans Russians in recent years
  • (4:40) The likely effects of the ban on gender transitions
  • (7:20) Why are the Russian authorities doing this now?
  • (8:50) How many trans people have fled Russia
  • (10:50) The difficulties trans Russians encounter abroad
  • (12:26) Why not all trans people in Russia want to leave
  • (13:35) How Russian lawmakers are the real agents of “foreign influence” from the West

New episodes of The Naked Pravda are released at the end of every week. Catch each show by subscribing through Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or one of these other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the podcast, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Hosted by Sam Breazeale. Sound editing by Kevin Rothrock.

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