This does not mean that conditions for trans people in Russia have been easy until now. A 2019 survey
of transgender Russians found that the majority of respondents faced discrimination leading to psychological distress. Still, the opportunity to transition was out there. The new legislation would outlaw it entirely.
The law may also have a broader impact on societal transphobia. As mentioned above, the implementation of the “gay propaganda” law saw a rise in violence and hate crimes against gays and lesbians. It may be expected that the new law will also coincide with a rise in hate crimes against trans people.
In fact, it is already happening: in June, transgender Russian blogger Olysia Kat
was held by the police for 24 hours, denied legal counsel and repeatedly called a man. A transgender woman in Khimki was misgendered by the police and threatened with incarceration in a male prison. Another trans woman in Moscow was arrested for yelling “glory to Ukraine” in a nightclub, forced to undress
in front of the police and tell them her birth name. In Altai Krai, a transgender candidate for governor withdrew her nomination
after political support waned in response to the new bill. In Penza, a transgender university student is under pressure to drop out
due to their change in documentation. In Krasnodar, a gender nonconforming student was expelled
for "propaganda of sex change."
From a health standpoint, the legislation will be detrimental to transgender Russians. In a collective response
to the bill drawn up by representatives of almost 30 human rights, HIV-service and medical organizations, as well as lawyer associations and trans-community initiatives, it states that the bill “is aimed at discriminating against and depriving of access to medical care people with the medical diagnosis of ‘transsexualism,’ and is based on information that is not supported by sufficient evidence and does not contribute to achieving the stated goals”. Russian healthcare researchers are concerned that the law could lead to a rise in self-harm
, either by increasing the risk of suicide for trans people or bringing back the type of secret medical treatment and self-castration seen in Russia in the 1990s and 2000s.A “criminal network”
Ironically, while Nikolaev and Volodin blame the West for “exporting gender ideology” to Russia, countries in Europe and North America are grappling with a transphobic movement of their own. The “anti-gender” movement
is comprised of religious bodies, academics, right-wing politicians, “gender-critical” feminists and NGOs that broadly stand against rights relating to gender. It aims to roll back marriage equality and curtail access to reproductive rights (with notable success in the US). In recent years, “anti-gender” activists have become increasingly focused on trans rights, pushing a return to “traditional family values” and “natural law,” purportedly for the protection of children. Particularly in America, transphobic legislation has quickly gained momentum, with laws regulating everything from bathroom use to school curriculums and drag performances. Book bans
have come into effect, along with bans on gender-affirming care
and even the discussion of LGBTQ+ topics