Russia: Transgender people in Russian society

Transgender people are those whose self-perceived gender (gender identity) doesn't agree with the gender they were assigned at birth. This incongruence may cause a sense of extreme discomfort called “gender dysphoria”.

In order to alleviate gender dysphoria and to bring their body and social status into alignment with their sense of self transgender people may undergo a gender transition. Transition may (but does not necessarily) include medical interventions (such as hormone replacement therapy and surgeries) as well as legal (legal gender recognition) and social (a change in self-expression and presentation) aspects.

Legal gender recognition (change of legal name and gender, i.e. ID gender marker) is an important part of transitioning for many trans people since it allows them to harmonize their social status and interactions with their sense of self.

This report on the situation of transgender people in Russian society and the problems they routinely face was prepared by Transgender Legal Defense Project based on the results of the research we undertook in 2016-2017.

We must point out that in February 2018 the Decree of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, issued on October 23, 2017 # 850í “On the approved standard and procedure for the issue of a sex reassignment certificate”(registered in the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation on January 19, 2018, record # 49695), entered into force.
This Decree simplifies and speeds up the legal gender recognition procedure, allowing for this matter to be settled out of court. We expect this to lead to an improvement in the situation of transgender people in Russian society. As of the time of writing, some transgender people have already changed their legal gender out of court thanks to the newly established procedure.

However, all cases featured in this report were documented between June 2016 and the end of 2017, before the above-mentioned Decree was issued or entered into force. Consequently, during that period, the legal gender recognition procedure for transgender people could not yet have been considered to be quick, accessible or transparent.

Before the Ministry of Health Decree entered into force, the process of legal gender recognition used to be quite lengthy (taking up to several years), while in the meantime, transgender people had no choice but to use ID papers that did not match their appearance and gender identity. As a result, trans people would routinely face abuse, violence and difficulties in the sphere of labor, healthcare and education as well as denial of various services requiring identification.

The purpose of this research was to evaluate the extent and details of this issue during 2016-2017 as well as to identify other challenges faced by transgender people in Russian society, and finally, to suggest recommendations as to their solution.

Read the full report here