Russian government takes the opportunity to make any medical and legal transition banned nationwide, leaving trans people in Russia very worried for their futures. Evgeniya Moreva writes;
During the war in Ukraine it became quite obvious for the State Duma and other governmental and military committees that it was not enough to just send the troops to another country to establish your will – there will be consequences, for protesters inside the country especially. After a sequence of unfortunate events consistent with news of lack of volunteers and armed forces on the Ukrainian front and detention of anti-war activists back in the civilian world, the flaming eye of the State Duma is seeking a scapegoat and a potential “living meat” solution for the front.
How it started
We need to step back earlier: not so long ago, in 2018, the Ministry of Justice approved new changes to medical laws made by the Ministry of Healthcare of Russia. It stated the new form of approval and a simplified procedure for issuing a gender change document by a medical organization.
The form itself allowed a lot of people to change their documents for new legal names faster and more freely after they were approved by a medical commission. This could be either governmental based or with the help of private clinics, and allowed trans people to transition easier in general. Without the need of court hearings and waiting for years to get their diagnosis approved to have gender affirming surgeries or get access to HRT.
The document stated the rules for the special note. After acquiring one, you were able to change your documents within a year of the date it was issued, giving some flexibility to trans people. You could also reapply after the year if you needed to and would most likely be re-approved.
For the first time in its existence, Russian Federation, despite having homophobic and transphobic tendencies since the day of forming, actually was the best country for fast and mostly easy documental and medical transition, and was especially great for people who wanted to go “stealth”.
Return of “the old ways”
May 30, 2023. A draft law has been submitted to the State Duma establishing a complete ban on “medical interventions aimed at changing sex”, as well as “excluding state registration of sex change without surgery”. The main authors were Mrs. Elena Muzulina and Mr. Vyacheslav Volodin.
Muzulina actually tried to give a similar bill a chance way back in 2020, but was defeated after major protests by trans people in big cities. Whilst Volodin, the Chairman of the Russian State Duma is known for his active pursuance of “anti-LGBT propaganda” law and multiple allegations by the media claiming that he’s a closeted gay man himself based on leaks of his personal info.
Most of the things suggested by this bill project seem absolutely bizarre for most foreign citizens raised in an atmosphere of autonomy, care and democracy: “Medical workers are prohibited from acting in medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person, including the formation of primary and/or secondary sexual characteristics of the other sex in a person; medical interventions related to the treatment of congenital physiological anomalies of sex formation in children (aka intersex and birth anomalies) are allowed by decision of the medical commission of the the health institution the interventions are done in”. Lest simplify the official apparatchik text:
These passages mean:
- Complete ban on any medical interventions, including psychiatrists issuing Note 087/u and F64.0 diagnosis notes by ICD-10 “Transsexualism” (HA 60 in modern ICD-11), HRT prescriptions and all possible cosmetic and/or gender affirming surgeries for a transgender person;
- Complete ban on any documental changes for a transgender person – you couldn’t change your gender marker in your ID. Ever.
Need to inform that due to a complex documentary system Russia inherited from the Soviet Union, every Russian’s main ID is their passport, if they’re going abroad – add a separate “foreign passport” to it. In case of changing your preferred name and gender marker you need to change your birth certificate first, passport second. Due to having that documentary system. Add to it your individual taxpayer number and social security number and some other personal documents like your diplomas;
- This law draft also comes with a full ban on gender reassignment surgeries, HRT and changes in gender markers for intersex people. If you’re born intersex and your doctor decides your sex based on only his beliefs – you couldn’t change ANYTHING when you’re hitting adult life.
Of course, after this law becomes reality, it’s basically governmental restriction of body autonomy. The main motivation for this law? “They’re mutilating children and doing it with America’s money” but also “they’re changing their gender to avoid Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine”. For reference: in 2020, due to “sex change” Russia issued 428 passports, in 2021 – 554 passports, in 2022 – 936 passports. The leaders in changing the gender marker were Moscow with the Moscow region and St. Petersburg with the Leningrad region due to these regions being hubs for trans people’s healthcare and points of more liberal mindset of their citizens.
Just before the bill project was issued, on May 12, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin also spoke in favour of anti-trans laws. He called AMABs who decided to change sex “on paper” scammers: “The change of sex on paper is a deception, fraud. If it’s a fraud, this deception violates the interests of the state, our defense capability… We will act taking into account new realities.”
It’s clear that President Putin with his response on “who are they, transformers, transgenders?” is also not very fond of trans folk existing. Derision our UK readers will not be unfamiliar with from our political leaders.
May 30 was not a random date – it was right before June 1, The International Children’s Day (or “Day of Children’s Protection” using literal Russian translation). Of course, after using the words of American pastors that Mrs. Mizulina and adapted in favor of their “anti-LGBT propaganda law” issued in late 2022, they would cover with children & their protection, leaving transgender youth behind the wall – just like judicial societies in Florida and other states of America who cleared the way for anti-trans legislative initiatives.
After May 30, the law was reconfigured into its current “max ban state” and then everything escalated quickly. June 12th, The Day of Russia, The Russian State Duma announces that this bill will go to readings without any half-measures – it’s still a full blown ban.
By the evening of June 13th The State Duma issues a note that the hearing will be “out of order because it’s an emergency case”. They’re speeding up the process. At the same time, this law is considered “adjustments” to an existing Federal Law 323 Paragraph 45 – ban on euthanasia.
Before the hearings started, Russian-speaking trans and non-binary twitter users tried to gather support from media and political allies. Which resulted in transgender people like Dee Homak being blocked by politicians like Leonid Volkov. Later Volkov would appear on stream where he “devoted more than a third of his time to whining about the ‘activists’ who offended him, and not about the fate of trans people in Russia”.
Instead of finding solidarity and support trans people in Russia found allies initially snapping back at pleas for support with statements like “Putin is oppressing everyone, you’re no better than political prisoners of the regime”. However two full days later both Libertarian Parties of Russian Federation, Maxim Katz, Mikhail Pletnev and some other big opposition figures showed support for trans people.
After repeated failed attempts to gain support from people who are supposed to be LGBTQ+ inclusive in Russia and seeking “the great future Russia without Putin” – many trans people have started to realise that in this battle we are a lone legion.
During the day another stone strikes – Mr. Vitaliy Milonov, famous for his “Orthodoxy or death” t-shirt and immense hate towards LGBTQ+ community whose laws about “ban on LGBT-propaganda towards children” later grew into a ban on basically speaking about LGBT (even for LGBT themselves), speaks to the journalists.
Of course, Mr. Milonov is a big fan of conservative families and the “Domostroy” mindset: he’s willing to break marriages, families, people’s lives for his words to come true despite being the current Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs. He said that “if the [anti-trans] bill is adopted in Russia, it may subsequently cancel the already issued certificates of sex change”.
He also claims “the law will not be retroactive, but the cancellation of certificates can be worked out after the bill’s adoption”. It’s hard to understand how cancelling the documents for people who already live in their preferred gender and ruining their existing is not retroactive.
“This bill is an indicator of our attitude to these terrible things. And it’s not just about those who want to avoid military service. There can be no sex change in a normal society, because it’s anti-scientific, obscurantism. I hope that we will be able to further work out this issue and that all these fake certificates – which corrupt doctors and so-called psychologists – issued about sex change, will be cancelled.
If we recognize that sex change is an impossible phenomenon, respectively, those who tried to do it on paper will be, I hope, in a hanged-in-the-air position,” Milonov explained. Most of transgender Russians took it as a threat: “Emigrate or die trying, we don’t see you as equal citizens” is Milonov’s “hanged-in-the-air position”.
Oil your torches
A full pack of documents in Russian was released by the State Duma and is accessible by the link: https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/242098-8 (you might need Russian VPN to download the texts). Here are some citations from the explanatory note to this law draft:
- “Currently, there is already a developed sex change industry in Russia. It consists of unscrupulous doctors, psychologists, a developed network of LGBT organizations and activists, and other persons. They direct all their destructive activity to teenagers and young people.” That is mimicking most of Mr. Ron DeSantis words, but changes course a bit to “the big evil US gay lobby” flow;
- “The Constitution of the Russian Federation enshrines norms on the preservation of traditional family values and the protection of the institution of marriage as a union of men and women.“ These changes were made in 2020 alongside others including the extension of President Putin’s ruling abilities;
- “The basic law of the country provides for only two sexes – men and women, no “intermediate” and “additional” variants of sex or [so called] “gender”, neither categories like “parent No. 1” and “parent No. 2” are acceptable, nor the possibility of “sex change”.” No comments.
After that, the explanatory note covers the existing laws about LGBT-propaganda and how trans people’s existence is basically propaganda. The text lies about “the existing evidence of parents of “affected” [implying damaged or mutilated] children” – the children in question were way past 21 years old.
The T-Day of Russia
June 14 2023, the day of hearings, 1st hearing for full-blown ban on trans & intersex medical help and change of documents. “The worst thing is the corruption of children,” Mr. Volodin said at the plenary session. “In the United States, where these new pseudo-values are promoted, the share of transgender people among teenagers is already three times higher than among the adult population.” More lies, more covering of absolutely barbaric measures with “children”.
But there’s more: “The number of children receiving hormonal therapy has more than doubled in 5 years. They start pumping children with hormones at the age of 8. From 2017 to 2021, more than 2000 sex reassignment surgeries in children aged 13 to 17 years have been performed.” No statistics were added to prove that statement.
During the readings the Minister of Health Mr. Mikhail Murashko addressed the bill draft, saying they should have some high-level consiliums of federal institutions for intersex children and about the need to improve the demography. Deputy Ostanina began to suggestions that he wanted to soften the law, and she was asked to stay quiet by fellow deputies.
Despite the words about “corrections” of organs on intersex children the State Duma still wants to ban genital surgeries for people over 18. Vice-speaker Tolstoy talked about needed restrictions and forming a list of “approved anomalies”.
Vice-speaker Tolstoy then raised his voice and complained that the law has no retroactive effect and that the figure of 2990 trans people changing their docs is growing exponentially, if the bill is not adopted, it will be 5000 next year. Laughter and noise can be heard in the background at the same time.
After that the Duma recited the claims of the Health Committee and Family Committee. A representative from the Ministry of Health tried to say that it will lead to waves of suicides and “black market of surgery and pharmacy”. Chairman of the State Duma Volodin gave instruction to promptly finalize the initiative and submit the document to the lower house of parliament as soon as possible: “The initiative is supported by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, but the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation “have not yet decided.”
“In this regard, when considering the bill in the next reading, we will invite the leadership of the Ministry of Health. We need to find out why it is uncertain and why, when signing an agreement with WHO, they made a gross mistake that contradicts our Constitution and the values we must protect,” Volodin says.
The “gross mistake” is signing the agreement about implementing ICD-11 in Russia. ICD-11 was presented in January 2019 and approved in May 2019. By it, F64.0 “Transgenderism” is no longer a psychic disability snuck in near schizophrenia and epilepsy. ICD-11 has been operating in Russia since January 1 2022, the transition period to new ICD has been extended until 2027.
Mr. Volodin claimed that “HRT and operations are blooming in other countries” and that “Europe and the USA are full with them, with complete sodomy”: “The man gets up in the morning, goes to buy a certificate in paid clinics,” he said. “There are no psychiatrists and psychologists in the commissions – no one who would’ve studied his condition… And then provides a document on the change of sex, surname, first name, patronymic.” Of course, it’s another lie. Every commission has a clinical psychologist, sexologist and psychiatrist.
Mr. Volodin said that the lower house of Duma would like the Ministry of Healthcare, preparing amendments to the law prohibiting sex change in Russia, not to invent changes “by caring for people”. According to him, caring would be “forbidding all this debauchery.” At this point it sounds like an absolute circus of horrors – don’t you dare care about people, simple governmental medical man, end with this and lay back. If they start killing themselves, we’ll just make suicides illegal and shoot them for successful suicide attempts!
The Minister of Health Mr. Moroshko noted that in addition to the said initiative, he is conducting research for conversion therapy. One deputy is concerned that people with “a different perception” of their gender should be psychologically and psychiatrically “bred to reality”. The Minister replied that work in this direction on behalf of the President is already underway, an appropriate institution is being created, where other “behavioral violations” and forms of antisocial behavior will be considered. Trans people can only hope that it won’t be back to electric chairs and haloperidol.
Vice-speaker Tolstoy concluded the meeting and appealed to Mr. Moroshko – the deputy asked the Ministry to consider banning abortion in commercial clinics and “take control of hormones for sex change, contraceptions and abortion”. It mimics some earlier speakers – before that, in March 2023, First Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs pointed out the need to prohibit abortion for commercial clinics to make it easier for the state to monitor it. They want to “be there to help”, she said.
The vote is not anonymous, everybody’s advised to have their name shown near the vote. First reading, first hearing, ban of trans healthcare and documental transition – Duma agrees unanimously, 365 “yay” out of 369 deputies who signed the original draft (4 people didn’t show up).
Famous last words
The state ban on any medical help and change of documents for intersex and trans people in Russia has passed its first reading, and the government is not going to stop there. Mr. Volodin says the Duma is going to come to full sign and conclusion over the spring-summer sessions. That means by the end of July trans people of Russia are basically outlaws.
We’re still waiting for the words of the Head of State Psychiatric Commitee, on the additions from the Ministry of Health and news on the reverse card on documents of trans people.
On June 15, the police detained a 28 year old protestor who came to stand in the middle of Saint-Petersburg against anti-trans laws. He’s already being checked for “LGBT-propaganda”. Speaking to the media Alexander Sin’ko said he was denied his right to a lawyer for over 2 hours.
У Гостиного двора в Петербурге ЛГБТ-активист
вышел в одиночный пикет против закона о запрете трансгендерного перехода
Александр Синько поговорил с нашей корреспонденткой о целях своей акции и о том, как грядущий закон скажется на его друзьях и на нем самом.
Ранее молодого… pic.twitter.com/mFnCvgEgfV
— SOTA (@Sota_Vision) June 15, 2023
“I’m a part of LGBTQ+ community myself, I see how bad people feel after the adoption of the law in the first reading. My cohabitant is now urgently collecting money to pass a commission [for gender transition] for the remaining 2 weeks. And for people who do not have time – alas, there will be no loophole left. [But] I’m not going to get out of Russia.” – Alexander Sin’ko commented on his protest with a cardboard tablet “Save the rate to be myself” in the colors of a trans flag.
Later that day The Insider posted an article about President Putin instructing to create a “psychiatric institute aimed at study of behavior of LGBT-people”. According to Minister of Health Mr. Mikhail Murashko, they’ve considered this direction and it will also be further taken into mandatory scientific study. In addition to already existing research on conversion therapy, it seems this “simple” bill is leading us to mass cleanings, pogroms and forced conversion therapy paid by the state.