On July 14th, the State Duma finalized the legislation draft that bans gender transition. It is going to be impossible to change documents and conduct medical procedures aimed at “sex change”. The legislation further calls for the annulment of trans people’s marriages and a prohibition on adopting and fostering children.
What medical restrictions will take effect?
The legislation forbids transgender people from transitioning (including medically) on the basis of the F64.0 diagnosis. Doctors will not be able to conduct any medical interventions aimed at «sex change». Psychiatric help remains accessible; getting the «F64.0 Transsexualism» diagnosis will be possible, but it won’t allow one to change the gender marker. Exceptions will apply only to intersex people. There are plans to create new commissions under Ministry of Health supervision; they will issue a conclusion «about the correspondence of sexual characteristics to characteristics of a certain sex».
Nef Cellarius, coordinator of Coming Out’s peer-to-peer consultations program for transgender people:
«To understand just how hominivorous this legislation is, it is important to realize one fact: the legislation will close access to medical help for an entire group of the population on the basis of a trait that people can’t change. This is as if a law that would ban receiving endocrinological help for tall people got passed. Transgender people aren’t going to be able to get help to relieve their gender dysphoria. Help, which is recommended not only by the World Health Organization but also described in regulatory documents ratified by the Russian Ministry of Health».
It will be forbidden for endocrinologists to give out prescriptions for hormonal therapy on the basis of the «transsexualism» diagnosis, even if a person has the 087/y «Sex reassignment certificate».
«These people are no longer going to be able to get hormonal therapy by doctor’s note, nor could they get prescription drugs. Hormonal therapy will only be available through freely accessible drugs; medical consultations will be limited to illegal ones or to endocrinologists outside of Russia. People that have changed their documents will not be able to do any surgeries because they would be surgeries directed at the reassignment of sexual characteristics». Ksenya Mikhailova, Coming Out’s lawyer.
However, there is another opinion that surgeries for people who have already changed their documents will remain accessible:
«It is quite a difficult question. Formally, sex is defined by what is written in the passport. Namely, surgeries directed at modifying the human body to more closely match what’s in the passport are not sex reassignment surgeries. That being said, we suppose that these surgeries could become less accessible because surgeons would want to avoid risks and prefer not to perform them or perform them abroad». Tatyana, Transgender Legal Defense Project’s lawyer.
The question of medical transitioning remains one of the most difficult ones to answer. On the one hand, unclear wording and gaps in the discriminatory legislation will allow transgender people to find ways to receive hormones and get surgeries, but on the other hand, it might lead to a division in opinions between doctors and government agencies. It is not clear what sanctions would be applied to doctors who would decide to risk it and help trans people. Here, it is better to wait and observe how this legislation will be used.
What about changing documents?
Changing documents will be impossible after the legislation takes effect. There will be exceptions for people with intersex variations, but these cases will be reviewed by a specialized commission.
All gender marker change certificates are annulled, which means that it will be impossible to change documents even if one has a 087/у certificate. For example, if a person transitioned medically but wasn’t able to change their passport, then it wouldn’t be possible anymore.
However, there will be an opportunity to change the passport if the birth certificate has already been changed and if there are no amendments to the Russian citizen’s passport regulation, explains Ksenya Mikhailova.
What about «annulling marriages» for trans people?
If one of the spouses were to transition after marriage and an entry were to be made in the civilian registry, there would be grounds for the marriage to be terminated.
«Marriage annulment is an institution specified by Russia’s Domestic Relations Codex. Amending it with new grounds does not contradict the legislation, though it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.» Ksenya Mikhailova, Coming Out’s lawyer
There is no clarification of who and how is going to be searching for these couples in the legislation; there is no clear mechanism for how such marriages would be annulled. Moreover, previously, politicians have promised to revoke transgender people’s right to get married; however, there are no restrictions on getting married to people who have changed their gender marker.
«There is a section where bars to marriage are listed, i. e., the Domestic Relations Codex, Section 14. No amendments were made to this section. It’s utter baloney: a trans person can get married, after all, but no less, the marriage can be annulled because one of the spouses is transgender», says Nef Cellarius.
What about adoption and foster care?
Another major tightening in the legislation is a ban on adopting or fostering children for transgender people.
«This ban is direct discrimination against trans people. Additionally, this infringes children’s rights in cases where a trans person is a relative of a child who was left without parental care». Ksenya Mikhailova, Coming Out’s lawyer.
It’s important that the ban does not concern the section that regulates the deprivation of parental rights. Therefore, this ban does not affect those who have biological children.
If a person has already transitioned, how will the legislation affect their life?
Answers Nef Cellarius, the coordinator of peer-to-peer consultations for trans people in Coming Out.
«The law shouldn’t have any retroactive force, so no one can force anyone to change their documents back. Endocrinologists will no longer have the right to prescribe hormonal drugs on the basis of the F64.0 diagnosis, but many transgender people who have long transitioned have long been getting hormones for other medical reasons; everything should be okay with these prescriptions».
What can I do now?
«If you have handed in documents for a new birth certificate, do not panic and just wait; if you get rejected, reach out to human rights organizations and appeal the civilian registry office’s decision. If you have long changed the documents and are afraid for your marriage that was finalized after transition, do not fret; with high likelihood, the legislation will only apply to marriages finalized before transition.
If you have the resources and opportunities to tell about how awful this legislation is, then tell about it. Now trans people’ visibility is important like never before.
The state is repressing one of the most invisible groups. An average citizen of Russia has not a single acquaintance about whose trans*status they know. It’s all because we often live in „stealth-mode“ — in an old or, already, a new gender. Whereas it’s the easiest to hate and dehumanize those who you have never seen», says Nef Cellarius.
The legislation will take effect from the date of its publication; before that, it has to be signed by the Federation Council and accepted and signed by the president. We ask you not to panic and to take care of yourselves. If you have the resources, to help your close ones. To remember that even the most terrifying dictatorship is not forever.