On June 14, the State Duma will consider a bill banning "sex change" (this is the wording used by the authorities to describe certain stages of the transgender transition) through a surgical operation and changes in the passport. The State Duma has already made a statement that “sex change is a myth”, leaving an exception only for children with congenital anomalies, and members of the State Duma Committee supported the bill and recommended that the deputies adopt it. As experts working with LGBTQ+ people explained in a conversation with The Insider, the State Duma uses the incorrect and transphobic term “sex change”, and also wants to pass the toughest version of the bill, which will ban absolutely everything for transgender people: from changing documents to surgical manipulations. This will eventually lead to the emergence of an underground surgical market and an increase in cases of gender dysphoria (stress and feelings of dissatisfaction with the assigned gender role).
Nef Cellarius, LGBTQ+ Transgender Equal Counseling Coordinator, Exit Group:
““Sex reassignment” is an incorrect term that is used for simplification. But in the LGBTQ+ community, no one speaks like that, it is considered incorrect and transphobic, because “medical gender” is seven different components, and not all of them can be “changed”. If we say that a t-person (transgender person) "changes sex", we obviously do not expect that he will be able to change, for example, chromosomal - aka genetic - sex. So what gender are you talking about?
It is in order not to create such medical conflicts that the term “transgender transition” is used. This is the same thing, but more tactful and without questions about the content. Transgender transition in Russia today involves three independent processes. A trans person can do one, two, all three, or none.
Legal transition - change of documents, medical transition - body changes and social transition - integration into society in accordance with one's gender identity. I repeat, it is not necessary to make a “full set”. There are people who, for example, change documents and make a social transition, but do not resort to medical interventions. Or, on the contrary, there are those who take hormone therapy, but do not change documents for some reason. All these people can be said with equal correctness that they are making the transition.
Now the State Duma is considering the toughest version of the law, which will ban absolutely everything - both the change of documents, and any medical manipulations, whether it be surgery or hormone therapy. And this is a real nightmare for many transgender and non-binary people.
Unfortunately, even now there are people who clandestinely take hormone therapy. It is worth noting that HT is a major component of the medical transition. Often, hormone therapy is sufficient treatment for a person to stop experiencing gender dysphoria. Properly selected by a competent doctor, HT gives noticeable external changes.
Self-administration of hormones is dangerous to health and can lead to irreversible consequences, including putting an end to the entire transition process. Unfortunately, even now there are people who do it themselves. We fear that with the release of the law, an underground surgical market will also appear, which, of course, can lead to terrible consequences for the health and life of transgender people.
And no one "changes sex" in the passport just because a person looks, for example, like a man, and the person's documents are female. Even now, in order to change the gender marker and be admitted to surgery, you need to go through a commission of four specialists: a sexologist, a clinical psychologist and two psychiatrists. Observation of the patient before the commission, by the way, can take up to two years, that is, this is not always a quick process. Documents can be changed only with a positive conclusion of the commission. With the introduction of the new law, it will not be possible.”
Igor Kochetkov, human rights activist, one of the founders of the Russian LGBT Network:
“Transgender transition is not a legal concept, but rather a sociological one. This refers to the whole process, including the process of social adaptation of a person. It can start long before surgical and legal actions and continue throughout life, and even after it is done, because full integration is a difficult thing. In my opinion, it is better not to use the expression "transgender transition" in the context of this law.
The concept of “sex change”, which is present in this bill, was invented by these semi-literate deputies of the State Duma, who adopted the law on “propaganda”. Then for the first time the concept of “sex change” appeared in the legislation, and what it is is not entirely clear. In the old legislation there is the concept of “sex change” and this means a very specific thing - changing an entry in the Civil Status Acts. In the Law on Civil Status Acts, the concept of "sex change" was used as early as 1998, this law continues to operate.
This bill, which the State Duma is going to consider today in two readings, implies, among other things, the abolition of this norm, that is, the abolition of the fourth paragraph of Article 70 of the law “On acts of civil status”. The ability to make entries in the Civil Status Acts and the ability to change the gender marker is destroyed, that is, legal gender change is prohibited.
As for medical actions, it does not say about operations, but about any medical interventions. What is meant by this, I do not know, but I assume that some clarifying wording will appear in the second reading. At a minimum, the Ministry of Health will insist on this. The Committee of the Ministry of Health assumes that the draft law requires legal and technical revision in terms of terminology, and clarifications in terms of synchronization with the law "On Health Protection" and Civil Status Acts.
When the responsible committee adopted the law on “propaganda” in December, they also wrote that the wording should be clarified, but they did not clarify anything. The state apparatus has entered the stage of chaotic activity, when they do not comply with their own laws, nor their regulations, nor their recommendations, or rather, they give them, but do not comply . So it is not clear whether something will change in the second reading.
In fact, the law prohibits people from providing the medical care they need, because no one has canceled the diagnosis of “Transsexualism” in ICD-10. There is a certain condition in which a person needs medical attention. This is a fact, because this condition leads to gender dysphoria, that is, to severe stress, depressive disorders and risks of suicidal behavior. In this condition, people need professional medical care, and this law prohibits medical workers from providing medical care. For the practice of Russian legislation, this is a precedent that is dangerous not only for transgender people, but for the whole society. Tomorrow they may pass a law that will prohibit the provision of care to patients with diabetes. What if they have some ideological considerations about this?
"Sex change" at home is impossible, it's not even an abortion, which technically can be done at home. If we are talking about surgical operations, then you can cut out your appendicitis at home? And these are much more complex things. There are operations on the genitals, mammary glands and so on. If a person at home, excuse me, tries to cut off his penis - they say that there were such precedents - and if such a person is saved, then most likely they will simply be placed in a psychiatric hospital. Of course, this is not a reason to change documents. Now nothing will be such a basis.
In December 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a total ban on "propaganda" of non-traditional sexual relations and transgender transition. According to him, for the "propaganda" of LGBT people, pedophilia and gender reassignment among individuals of any age, a fine of 50,000 to 800,000 rubles can be imposed. At the same time, everything that seems to the authorities to be similar to LGBT “propaganda” can fit under the vague wording in the law. In May 2023, Kommersant, citing the head of the State Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children, Nina Ostanina, wrote that the State Duma would be amended to prohibit a transgender transition and an official change of a gender marker in documents without a surgical operation.