"Woman. Prison. Society" presents
A project about transgender people in Russian prisons

[ RUS ]
There are no statistics on the number of transgender people in the Russian prison system. Employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service treat these "invisible" prisoners as an additional problem. The topic remains extremely closed.

What do trans people face in prisons? They’ve told about it in their stories, as well as lawyers and experts. Is it possible to find a husband in the colony? How is life in the "offended" caste? And why can a rat be the only interlocutor in a cell?

The penal system obviously needs to transform the attitude towards trans people. Our project is about finding out solutions on this topic.
1. Evgenia
"They told me: you are a stick in our craw"
Photo courtesy of Evgenia
"After the publication, I was fired from my job"
I was detained at home. I voluntarily had given up my phone, then I was taken to the police department for investigations. The employee was purposely addressing me as a man, although I was correcting him. The video was being shot by his friend, who was simply in the office, but, as far as I could understand, wasn’t a policeman.

Soon, that video entitled "Transsexual detained in Irkutsk" was posted on the Internet in "Summary 38" group. They knew full well that I had a family and lived with a young man in the village. That didn’t stop them from screwing up my life.
I had a very hard time after the publication. I was fired from my job right away. All my friends and relatives had turned their backs on me. The family had collapsed. Before that, we had lived together for three years.
When they found out about it in the village, everyone began to condemn both me and my young man. They started insulting him, calling him gay. We broke up. Even when I moved to Irkutsk, I was recognized and pointed fingers on the bus.

I filed a report to the Department of Internal Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs about the video. It was handed over to the Investigative Committee, which tried to hush up the case. I turned to television, went to Moscow to President’s reception office and complained that there was no reaction. When I returned, a criminal case was opened against me under article 242 part 3 (production and trafficking of pornographic materials — ed.), and I was taken into custody.
Video fragment from the police after the arrest
"Chained and shaved bald"
First, I was taken to the TDC (temporary detention center — ed.) and put in a solitary cell. I was wearing women’s clothes: tights, boots, skirt. Packing my things before the arrest, of course, I put only lady stuff in the bag. The investigator confirmed that my identity documents were being replaced. And they treated me loyally there, even treated me to home-cooked meal. They sympathized that I would soon go to a pre-trial detention center with a bad reputation.

Then I was taken to the Irkutsk pre-trial detention center-1. A woman examined me, and all the lady stuff that I had with me were allowed into the cell. They let me take everything I could: cosmetics, a comb and women’s underwear. I was also placed in solitary confinement.

Soon the head of the pre-trial detention center Makeev got off leave and ruled to put me in a punishment cell. They took all my stuff.
Four of them handcuff me and begin to cut my hair. This made me hysterical. Then my hands were handcuffed to the grate, and my feet were handcuffed to the battery. And I hung out like that for almost four hours until the psychologist came.
We talked, I calmed down a little. After I was released from the punishment cell, my things were not returned to me. I was given clothes from the pre-trial detention center fund. Used, already worn men’s clothes. And every week they cut my hair bald — that was a way of humiliation. They found a reason to put me in the punishment cell and cut my head off.
"They forced me to be in handcuffs all the time"
At the end of May, I was taken to court. When they brought me back, they handcuffed me and declared that the commission had put me on a watch list as prone to assault. After that, they could easily undress me and cut my hair bald. Since then, I was constantly in handcuffs on the territory of the detention site.

Initially, one employee was sticking up for me. She tried to find out why they cut my hair, why they gave me men’s clothes. The video shows that I am a woman, and it confirms the fact that I was in solitary confinement.
But Makeev said that it was the investigator’s order, pressure measures to take a plea bargain. I didn’t even testify, using Article 51 of the Constitution (against self-incrimination right).
It's easy to get hooked in a secure facility. You can't lie down on the bed. If you took a pillow, put it on a bench, and lay down – go to a punishment cell. If you report out of form, don't name yourself, don't say that there is one person in the cell, that there are no incidents – go to a punishment cell. While they turned a blind eye to the actions of others, they found fault to me for any reason.

Once I had a toothache for three days. I put my head on the pillow in pain. There was an offsite dentist, not every day. For that, the head of the building then called me to the disciplinary commission, and although there was confirmation from the doctor that I had a tooth pulled out, I was given 15 days in solitary confinement.
Evgenia tells her story (fragment)
"Dragged for a walk in a severe frost"
If you don’t go out for a walk, you can be handcuffed and dragged out. At the beginning of February, I was dragged out for a walk by force. My cell was in the basement of a five-story building. Walking yards were upstairs, where the attic was. I was dragged up the stairs in handcuffs. I was wearing only slippers, tights, and a sweatshirt so that there was a walk. And it’s freezing outside, thirty-six degrees below zero.

I was taken to Moscow for examination, to the Institute named after Serbskiy. I had been to several pre-trial detention sites: Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk. And all the inmates of the isolation wards where I passed were shocked that I was forcibly shaved bald. They had no right to do that, because the sentence hadn’t come into the legal force. In Moscow, the medical staff supported and helped me. They sympathized that I would be taken back to the "death camp," as our pre-trial detention center-1 was called behind backs.

From Moscow, I wrote a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office, it was forwarded to the Irkutsk Federal Penitentiary Service. I received an answer that it was all according to my desire, allegedly, it was. How can a woman consent to be shorn and dressed in men’s clothes, besides, in public? This is nonsense.
"Lock up in male colonies"
Of course, this is due to my transgender status. There was another reason, besides the investigators' pressure. The fact is that the chief and his deputy are homophobes. At disciplinary commissions, Makeev always consciously addressed me as a man. Of course, I corrected him. I was given a penalty for this. It didn’t break me. I introduced myself with my feminine name and continued to do so. There are things more important than penalties.

The head of the corps openly declared that I was "a stick in the craw" for them. Also, they didn’t have the right to keep me in solitary, because I’m suicidal. And they couldn’t put me in a cell with either men or women. And, of course, they needed me to be convicted as soon as possible and sent to Buryatia.
Makeev once told me at a disciplinary commission, "People like you need to be locked up from society for a long time. Moreover, in male colonies."
When I was transferred to psychiatry, two "nannies" were placed with me. The first one was already convicted, the other one was under investigation. Naturally, I got panic: I was sitting in a cell with two men. Those, too, "got stuck." I started calling for a doctor, but no one came. Then we hit it off.

The staff even controlled that there was no sexual violence against me. Although, when they put pressure on me, they scared me, that they would lock me up in a common cell, and it would be bad for me, that something bad can be done to me in the basement.
"There were only rats that climb out of the toilet bowl"
For almost a year I was completely isolated from everyone, allegedly for security reasons. It was impossible to talk to anyone, to correspond. Communication through cameras entailed imprisonment in the punishment cell. You can, for a change, talk to the rats that climb out of the toilet bowl. Nothing else. I was in prison for 11 months. I only had a radio in my cell, but it was turned on by order of the administration of the pre-trial detention site.

They took me to the shower once a week, and that’s all. Of course, there are, сells for pregnant women with a shower. But no one is put there just like that. If you have money, pay.
If there is no money, sit in a cell where rats run out of the toilet, where it blows out of the window. All winter I went to bed in my clothes, covering myself with a blanket and a jacket on top. It was so cold, that steam was coming out of my mouth.
What would I like for transgender people? I would like such people to have separate сells, with a TV, with a shower. So that people are not forcibly cut bald until there is a court decision.

If a person arrived in women’s clothes, and she/he feels comfortable, let her/him wear these clothes. No one gave them the right to deprive a person of the right to choose what to wear. It is important that even in this system, a person has a choice of who to be and how to live. It’s wrong that if you’re in a men’s cell, you have to behave like a man.

I’m lucky in one thing: I don’t need to take hormones, and I don’t need surgery. I have peculiarities from birth: female hormones are produced by themselves. It is more difficult for others because it is necessary to solve the issue of hormones somehow.
"It's not scary anymore"
I was released in the courtroom, having counted my time in the pre-trial detention site.

Recently, I finally received documents for a new name. But, because of that story with the video, I can’t get anywhere, even with a new surname. When I lived in Moscow for a month and a half, I met a man. I sent him a photo, and he wrote back: "You're Zhenya Alekseeva from Irkutsk." The whole story came out. Even in Moscow. The Internet remembers everything…

After that, I stopped being afraid of openness. There were programs, even a movie about me was filmed. Now it’s not so scary anymore. I have my own business, I’m not afraid of losing my job.
Investigators continue criminal prosecution of crimes committed in correctional institutions of the Irkutsk region*
* Extracts from the publication on the website of the Investigative Department of the IC of the Russian Federation of the Irkutsk region dated September 24, 2021.
"…the Investigative Department continues to investigate a number of criminal cases related to the work of the institutions of the Main Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Irkutsk region.

Thus, in the proceedings of the Third Major Cases Investigation Division, there is a criminal case on the fact that in January 2021, sexual acts involving violence and causing serious bodily harm, life-threatening to a person, committed by a group of other individuals detained in this site, were committed against a convicted Federal State Institution Pre-trial Detention Center No. 1 of the Investigative Department of the IC of the Russian Federation in the Irkutsk region.

In the same proceeding with this criminal case, criminal prosecution is carried out against several employees of the Pre-trial Detention Center-1 on the grounds of crimes provided for in paragraph "b" of Part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of official authority with serious consequences) and Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (negligence that caused serious harm to health)."
"In addition, the investigation of the criminal case continues on the statements of a number of convicts held in the Federal Penitentiary Institution Correctional Colony-15, Pre-trial Detention Center No. 1 (SIZO-1) and Pre-trial Detention Center No. 6 (SIZO-6) of the Investigative Department of the IC of the Russian Federation in the Irkutsk region on the facts of causing physical and psychological suffering in the period from April to December 2020 by systematic beatings and acts of torture. Within the framework of this criminal case, evidence is also collected that is necessary for a legal assessment of the actions of employees of these institutions, on the grounds of crimes <…>

24.08.2021 from the specified criminal case, 6 criminal cases were allocated to separate proceedings on specific facts committed in the period from April to December 2020 in relation to 16 convicts held in the Federal Penitentiary Institution Pre-trial Detention Center No.6 and Pre-trial Detention Center No.1 of the Investigative Department of the IC of the Russian Federation in the Irkutsk region, by a group of other persons detained in these sites, consisting of 16 people, by prior conspiracy to engage in sexual violence."
Egor Burtsev
Clinical psychologist,
specializes in working with trans people,
health expert
"The torture increases many times"
Many people don’t understand how serious it can be for a trans person to address them using pronouns that do not match their gender identity — the so-called misgendering. Transgender people can face it both in the case of non-compliance of appearance and documents and in their compliance.

From the stories of trans people, we know that even if the documents have been changed, after learning about the transgender status, police or prison employees may start using the wrong pronouns. Besides refusing to call a person by his name, they may intentionally broadcast homophobic and transphobic statements. Sometimes this is done in front of other prisoners who may be involved in similar practices. Apart from recognizing a person’s gender, they also refuse to consider him full-fledged and healthy.

Twice as tough to get a person to be called by his name and pronoun if something else is written in the passport. Then the representatives of the system have a legitimate reason to call a person as it is written in the documents.
For many trans people, any form of misgendering, especially involving humiliation, is a serious injury and stress. There can be no question of any, even relative comfort.
One may say that often the fact of misgendering is torture for a trans person. And if it involves the need to dress and look according to your gender marker in ID, to be regularly accepted as such — so, the torture increases many times.

There are training programs on the correct treatment of transgender prisoners for the police force and prison employees in many developed countries. Russia, unfortunately, that’s a long way off.
2. Marat*
"I ask you to respond to my cry for help"
Aidar Rizvanov
Chairman of the PMC of the Udmurt Republic, member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the UR
We have arranged our work with the heads of the Federal Penitentiary Service so that if there is a problem, we have to look for ways and solve it. We are conducting a dialogue. Issues are being resolved. Therefore, loud stories about lawlessness in our republic, as in some other regions, are not heard.

Last year, we first encountered the case of a transgender person. In my five years of work, this is the first such a person in the detention sites of Udmurtia. This is a challenge both for the system of the Federal Penitentiary Service and for us in the PMC (Public Monitoring Commission in Places of Forced Detention — ed.). The employees drew our attention, asked for help because human suffering was obvious.

According to the passport, she is a man. For humane reasons and according to the physiology — a woman. As members of the PMC, we offered to send her to a women’s colony. But the FPS tells us, "We can’t, this is a violation of all norms: according to the passport he is a man, he has already been convicted as a man."

Even before the verdict, a change of documents was made, several operations were performed. But she was immediately taken into custody from the courtroom, it wasn’t possible to complete the transition process. She was transferred from the pre-trial detention site to our men’s colony, as the documents were for a man. At large, the person received full-fledged hormone therapy: pills, injections, cooperated with the investigation. She writes that the investigators deceived her, promised a suspended sentence. As a result, it turned out that the transition process was interrupted, and everything stopped abruptly in the pre-trial detention site.
In autumn, we received a written appeal to provide psychological assistance, due to the complete "mind-blown," shock from the current situation. To help with hormone therapy, because there was serious physical suffering, pain. The situation was made worse by the fact that the person had no relatives and children, there was no one to help.
The prison authorities said that they didn’t have such drugs, which were not included in the list. They couldn’t provide it, as they didn’t provide gender-affirmative hormonal treatment. We were ready to find funds, buy medicines for a six-month course, but it turned out that the medicines required a medical prescription, and the colony couldn’t take them without the prescription of the appropriate doctor, but there was no one.

She also needed an experienced psychologist who was familiar with the issue. Individually, we could contribute, for example, online consultations. There was no such trained specialist in the colony.

A person was provided with the safety of being kept in a separate room in a medical unit. The heads of the colony didn’t interfere. They created conditions: everything needed was brought from the women’s "zone", for example, pads (they are not provided for in the men’s colony). In order to avoid excesses, sexual harassment, he contacted convicts only in the presence of colony staff.

It upsets me that it’s already the second year, but during this time I haven’t had specialized assistance provided in the prison. No one really understands the issue, there are no instructions. No one has come across such cases. If there is some kind of manual, it will be easier. Now we are consulting with human rights colleagues from other regions where there have been such cases, in order to somehow resolve the issue.

*Here and further, some names in the publication have been changed for security reasons, — ed.
From the appeal to the PMC*
*The spelling of the original source has been retained. Fragments containing personal data and other sensitive information are excluded.
"… I changed my sex from female to male, <underwent three surgeries>. Employees promised that there would be a suspended sentence for such a quantity of information. In this regard, the sex was changed. Now I am on lifelong hormonal therapy with the medicine Nebido, which was prescribed by the Central Medical Commission…

There are currently no medicines available. I was taken to CC-8 Central Hospital, where I was told that there were no such medicines. I was also examined by a gynecologist in Detention Centre-1 in Izhevsk, where he indicated that plastic surgery was required to be completed for health reasons. There are no such diseases included in the Government Decree No. 54 …"
"… a male colony. Where, upon arrival, I was incarcerated in a PC (punishment cell — ed.) 3 times, because they said that SP (safe place — ed.) is not provided …"
"… At the moment, being in a male colony with conditions of detention and negative administration employees, I am experiencing a lot of difficulties, constant ridicule.

I don’t know how to state everything on paper. There are certain things that cannot be written here. I ask you very much to help me morally and I ask you to speak at the hearing. I have no one else to hope for, I don’t know anyone in Udmurtia, there is no one to stand up for me. And the employees deceived me, threw me in jail. I’ve just been sitting for 10 months, but my nerves are running out. And I won’t be out for another 2 years 8 months.

I ask you to respond to my cry for help. Health problems started, but they can’t do anything, referring to my sex change…"
Egor Burtsev
Clinical psychologist,
specializes in working with trans people,
health expert
"Hormone withdrawal can affect health seriously"
Refusal to give hormones to a transgender prisoner can seriously affect both psychological and physical health. Such a refusal can be equated to non-provision of medical care and even to torture.

Firstly, if a trans person has been using hormonal medicines for many years, his own endocrine system is often suppressed. It can no longer produce the necessary hormones amount for a supportive effect on the structure of bones, blood vessels, some organs and the reproductive system. Therefore, abrupt discontinuation of hormones can seriously affect health.

Secondly, if a transgender man has recently started hormone therapy and doesn’t take it for a while, his menstruation es may resume, which for most trans men and some non-binary persons can be a serious injury.

Finally, hormone therapy is responsible for the external features of the body. If there is a refusal to take hormones, after a while (six months to a year) the body transforms that way from which the trans person left so hard. For example, in transgender men, hips may begin to round, shoulders and muscle mass may decrease, in transgender women the growth of facial hair may increase, hair may fall out, skin may coarse, muscle relief may appear, etc.
As a rule, these changes severely affect mental health, causing bodily dysphoria (rejection, or even hatred of one’s body), lead to self-harm, and sometimes to suicidal behavior.
In addition, against the background of hormonal surges, other mental states may worsen: aggression, tearfulness, apathy, depression, etc.

Generally, the very fact that a person is locked up for months and years, cannot move towards the gender affirmation, seriously affects mental health. Integration into society in the chosen gender role is the most important stage of the transgender transition. If this thread is interrupted, the consequences can be the most deplorable.
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3. Alina*
"I met my husband in the colony"
"Either I’m doing myself or I’m living as I want"
I had worked as a milling cutter for three years. Before my mind was made up for the transition, everything was standard. Sporty style, short haircut, uniform. You would be even said that I was homophobic. But I got tired of constantly being not myself, pretending…

I understood something about myself since childhood. There were some desires, habits, games. In kindergarten, I mostly communicated with the girls. Growing up, I looked more at girls. There were tosses inside of me for a long time. Only my best friend knew about me. Unfortunately, he died.

By the age of twenty-five, there were attempts to make a coming out, to live openly. But when they started whispering behind my back, I slowed the process down. It was emotionally overwhelming.
By the time I was twenty-nine, I was already over the top with my feelings. When you come home after work and sit with a razor in your hand, you think: either I’m doing myself now, or I’m living as I want, and I don’t care what anyone thinks.
I told my nephew’s stepfather about my decision. He said, "I don’t give a fuck." Then I shared it with my friends. Everyone accepted me more or less, except my nephew.

After that, I abruptly began to change my image. I got fired from the plant, but not immediately, I worked for another month taking hormones. I wore a woman’s jacket, white shoes. Surprisingly, my workmates reacted to this normally. After all, we have a lot of women working on machines.
"Fucked up your gender?"
I remember the foreman came up and asked, "What are the changes related to? Music or something else? Maybe with any subculture?" "No," I answered. He continued, "And then what? Are you sick of your gender?" I said, "Yes." And that’s all. There were no problems.

But I stood on principle: I decided not to wear any robes anymore. I was wearing a pink sweater. They told me in the workshop, "Change this pink jacket for a blue one and stay, you will become a master." When I was called to the boss, he thought that I wanted to quit because of my salary. When he found out that it was because of the clothes, he told me to drop my application. The main thing was to work well. I had worked for two more weeks, but I realized that there was some talk of me all over the plant.

Then my mother fell ill. There was no one to stay with her, to take care of her. And I quit my job. Mom handled changes calmly. She’d already called me feminine. She didn’t even scold me for quitting the plant. My mother died at the end of the year.
"All happened drunk"
We met at the plant for the first time, but we didn’t communicate much. He had his job, I had mine. He was a maintenance mechanic. If something broke, he would come, set it up, fix it. We didn’t even think about any relationship then.

He wrote me on social networks much later. I probably hadn’t worked at the plant for a year. He didn’t recognize me, I had been on hormone therapy for a long time, I looked feminine. But I recognized him right away.

Everything happened drunk. I, my friend, he. We drank beer, wine. Besides, he bought vodka and drank it in one gulp. In the morning, he acted really crazy. He wanted something from us, molested us. We pushed him out. He became violent. My friend called the police. But then, she opened the door for him.
He was angry, because he was thrown out of the door, and, doubly so, that he was refused. He broke into the apartment, rushed at me, threatened to kill me. I grabbed a knife from the table, struck several blows…
And just then the police arrived on a call from a friend. We were drunk, my friend and I were brought to the police department. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance. They issued me a confession, and wrote the wording that the knife wounds were inflicted in a fight…

Here, right in this cafe we were sitting with him that evening, at the same table. His name was also Lesha (the name of the interviewer — ed.), by the way. Who knew that everything would end so tragically that morning?
"There are ordinary people there"
He was in the hospital for about a month, then he died. When he regained consciousness, the first investigator in my case went to him and interviewed him. He confirmed how it was. She told me outright that if I had women’s documents, the situation might have been viewed differently — as self-defense. But on papers, I was a man. She would simply not be understood.

When he died, the article automatically became heavier, and the case was transferred from the police to the Investigative Committee. The new investigator didn’t arrest me. I regularly went to interrogations. They had a number of violations during the investigation, and I was really scared: they could lock me for a long time.
It so happened that my friends and I had a bender. I overslept a meeting with the investigator. I heard him shouting into the phone to my friend, "I'm putting you all away!" And I went on the run, afraid of what would happen to me in prison. I began hiding.
A general climate of fear about places of deprivation of liberty is generated by news. For example, there is news that some transgender girl has been locked up there. In the comments: what if she gets killed, raped, or something? A person reads it all and memorize. If he has such a situation in his life, then he starts to panic. People often make their situation worse. Of course, it’s better not to get there. But if it has happened…

What does fear lead to? A person can go on the run or commit suicide, just not to get into the colony. He can hide the truth about himself, and then he will be 'broken' when they find out. Don’t be afraid, but you need to think. Really, everything happens in life, but there are ordinary people, absolutely, not much scarier. And even there you can find understanding and protection. Sometimes, of course, they condemn, and something else bad. But it shouldn’t be exaggerated.
"Okay, can you get along with the old man?"
I was put on the federal wanted list. For two months I lived practically outside. I went out to the mall to ask someone for a cigarette, and I was caught checking my documents.

First, they brought me to the police. There was no neglect there. They were addressing me by my passport name, by masculine pronouns. By that time, I had been on hormones long, wore women’s clothes and lived openly for more than a year. The legal authorities are obliged to do so, as far as I understand. They are not your friends and comrades, after all. I don’t remember any special pressure, rather, "hee-hee," "ha-ha," and, generally, even a desire to help. They also needed to solve a non-standard situation.

They brought us to the TDC (temporary detention center — ed.), there were seven of us. We were all from different categories, someone had been there not for the first time. They put me alone in a cell designed for 16 people. I spent a day and a half there, up to court.

The court decided to arrest me, and I was brought to the pre-trial detention center. Medical examination, tests. Two or three quarantine cells. And they put me in a separate cell again, alone.

The ops come running, one asks, "What's wrong with your orientation?" I answer, "Everything is fine with it, I’m about the other thing." I explain, and he runs away. Twenty minutes later he returns with his colleague. Together they are trying to decide where to put me. I let them know that I take hormones.
The woman asks, "Was there an operation? No? You can’t go to the women’s cell. To the offended? It is impossible, anything may have happened there. Can you sit in solitary?" I say, "It's even better." They conferred, "Damn, you can’t stay alone, in case you commit suicide. Okay, can you get along with the old man?"
And they put the old man of the "offended" to me in a double cell. We sat together for eight months. Then, a few days before I had to go to the colony, two more were put in. And everybody, like the old man, were according to the "pedophile" article. It turns out we had a security camera. Everything was kept on me there. When I left, they were put in a shared cell with the "offended."

In the pre-trial detention center, I was also called in the masculine gender, according to the documents. Only in the verdict, where a secretary wrote down my evidence, I speak in feminine. Therefore, there is confusion: then the masculine gender, then the feminine. In general, it was clear that it was an unusual situation for them. Once we had a small repair in our cell, something was greased, and the door was open. From the neighboring cells began to shout something about transvestites. And the employee of the pre-trial detention center surprised me: been well-read, she began to explain to them who is who in medicine — about transgender people.

They said, there was a situation with a transgender woman before me. But she had an operation done. They helped her change her documents and took her to a women’s colony.
"Size three breasts"
The stage was small, a day on the way. For our social status, there was a separate compartment in the carriage. There were about ten of us. There were bars instead of doors, everyone seemed to be going separately, but together because they could talk. They asked all sorts of stupid questions from all over the carriage. I answered firstly. Then I ignored it, pretended to be asleep. I remember one young educated guy. He sympathized, lamented that such people want to be themselves, but are forced to sit like men.

They were already waiting for me in the colony. As usual, rumors run ahead of a person. Everything is embellished, even size three breasts. There were about a thousand of us in the colony. At first, they didn’t know what to do with me: whether to leave me in quarantine, or to send me to the medical unit. As a result, I was sent to a labor squad, where the workers were mostly located. A little over two hundred people.

I was not offered the choice to live in a safe place, in solitary confinement. I think every transgender person there should have the right to live in a safe place, to hide from danger. There is an article about security in the law, but it’s just that it is rarely carried out. As long as you don’t conflict, you can be protected somehow. And if you demand something, it can end badly for you.
If I was allocated something separate in the pre-trial detention center, then in the colony, on the contrary, they didn’t provide any option to live in a safe space. I lived with others among the "offended."
A transgender person will immediately fall into this caste, and gays often get there.

Before the pre-trial detention center, I was shorn in accordance with my passport data. A full detransition. They told me, "When you come there, don’t say anything like that. Only one of them said, "It's better to tell them about yourself right away. In my opinion, it is impossible to hide. If you tell them right away, you will live calmly, and that’s it, but if it opens, they can kill you. It’s unknown where the news will come from. For example, your neighbor can go to jail, they can write or call your friends, to find out. And they’ll ask you for it."
"Two doorknobs on the door"
How is the prison hierarchy built? There are three circles: the first is "thieves," the second is ordinary "men," and the third is "offended." The latter has now come up with the idea to divide into two parts: those who had some same-sex ties, and not. Those who have had such relationships are at the very bottom.

A lot depends on the character of a person, how he puts himself, on his finances. Then, even at the very bottom, he can communicate with the second circle, and sometimes intersect with the first. There are prison laws, "concepts" that must be observed when communicating with other circles with the "offended."

There is a hierarchy among the "offended," and it is much more difficult to survive within this category than with other prisoners. If I had a choice to live in the general mass in a detachment or separately in a barrack only with "ours," I would choose the first. Perhaps this is understandable from the point of view of psychology.
When a person is humiliated and crushed, all this negativity begins to ooze out of him, there is a breakdown on others. People are starting to be framed, everyone is trying to shift jobs to others in order to work less. If you are lower in status, then they'll even start asserting themselves in front of you, showing off. They can even commit violence.
The attitude towards me was quite even. Everyone is together in the same barrack, but "ours" are at the exit. There were probably about a hundred "offended" people in the whole colony, there were about fifteen people in our squad, a little separated by some screen.

Everyone goes to the bathhouse together, but our circle has separate watering cans, and in the dining room our tables are located separately. Sometimes it comes to the point of absurdity that the prisoners laugh themselves. I was told that there were two separate doorknobs on the door. On the one hand, no one is embarrassed that all prisoners flush down the toilet from common canisters, on the other hand, two doorknobs …

The caste system was invented by someone’s sick mind. In fact, most of them do not support it, but they are afraid to speak out against the system. Sometimes it comes to outright nonsense. We have no common intersections, food and dishes are separate. But when we are cleaning up, washing the floor, we shift the slippers. Then a newcomer arrives, who was frightened in quarantine. And he worries about the slippers: is it possible to wear them after the "offended" has touched them? Everyone just makes fun of him. They come up with nonsense that they are afraid to go against.

The administration uses the offended for various dirty jobs: cleaning, digging holes, repairs. Sometimes they even turn a blind eye to violations, because if we are in the punishment cell there will be no one to do cleaning. There will be a shortage of manpower.
"Heading in one direction only"
It’s easy to get into the caste for the most idiotic reasons: if you drank tea with a gay man, knowing that he was gay; if you were urinated, were mocked in your childhood. If you have sunk to the very bottom, there is no growth from there — heading in one direction only.

Connections within the general mass, "man" with "man", are considered abnormal. If they are spotted, they get into the "offended." In my time, there were six such people.

Someone stole cigarettes from the tack room, and the "thieves" decided to find out. They put the phone with the camera on at night. When they played the tapes, they saw two lovers from their own circle. Then they were told to pack up and go to the "offended." The other two guys were kissing in the toilet, and they were spotted.
According to the notions, the connections between the "offended" themselves, the general mass and the "offended" are considered normal. For the "offended," this is an opportunity to get tea, cigarettes, some other things for their "services." Administration usually turns a blind eye, although, according to the law, this is a violation. Condoms are officially prohibited in the "zone."
Coercion to sex usually does not happen, but there may be psychological pressure. Especially at first, while they look closely. In this case, it is important how you behave, how you react. Aggression is not necessary, the main thing is to prove your opinion competently: guys, it doesn’t work like that.
"To survive 'at leisure'"
I heard this on TV long before my own experience, but this "horror story" remained in my memory. Allegedly, the transgender girl refused to wash other people's socks, for this she was raped by 27 people. Did she come up with this for television? This is completely unrealistic.

Maybe one or two persons, really, but they will be punished for this. But 27 people? Half of them find such sex simply unpleasant, others participate only by consent. Violence is out of the ordinary. There's some kind of control over that. Lawlessness was not allowed here. And we didn't wash, we tried not to touch other people's personal belongings at all.

Sometimes, of course, it was necessary to survive "at leisure." You have sex with a person not for reasons of "like" or "dislike," but because the person is beneficial from a social point of view. He decides something by position. For example, the caretaker, or someone who has the status of a "thief." In general, the people respected in the "zone" are those who make your life.

Although there were a lot of those who had sexual relations for cigarettes and tea. How does it usually happen? A man comes up to you and asks: what do you want for this? You answer. If you are satisfied, well, you arrange time and place.
Read more about the situation of LGBT people in prisons and the "offended" caste in our series "Outcasts":

1. Outcasts (repressions against homosexuality in the USSR and Russia).
2. Outcasts-2 (sexual abuse in Russian prisons).
3. Outcasts-3 (gay porn with prisoners).
4. Outcasts-4 (how low-caste prisoners are trying to achieve justice).
5. How lesbians live in Russian prisons.
"One person remains"
On the second or third day, many prisoners are called by operatives. Allegedly, for familiarization, but also in order to persuade them to "work" for them. Of the "ours," fifteen percent agree to cooperate. It wouldn’t work with me, I’m so inattentive that I can’t notice anything.

I was summoned by the deputy head of the colony to the office. He asks, "What's your name?" I’m asking, "By passport or for real?" He was stunned…
It was very hard that I had to interrupt hormone therapy. Before my detention, I had been living "full-time" for a year and a half taking hormones. I was in the colony for five years, and during that period I couldn’t take hormones. There was a complete "detransition."
I’d like to have the opportunity to continue hormone therapy. Not at the state expense, but at our own one, so that relatives and friends are allowed to transfer from the outside. I know that there are no free medicines even at large.

Given that not many trans people end up in prison, it would be good if public organizations supported us by hormones, at least, a little financially. Of course, it is necessary to prescribe somewhere in the legislation so that the FPS doesn’t cause interference with such assistance.

It’s good if friends or relatives help. No one supported me there, they didn’t send me anything. My brother sent one parcel in five years, and that’s all. My transgender friend also helped a couple of times. The person, in fact, remains alone.

It’s also important that medicine works so that there are no obstacles. If a psychiatrist had confirmed the diagnosis and written out a prescription, perhaps an endocrinologist would have been called. Someone would probably have brought me the necessary hormones. But I was just kicked out, and I was without hormones all those years.

The local psychiatrist reacted with understanding, a month later she sent me to the prison hospital so that they officially diagnosed me. I was in the hospital for three weeks. In the first week, the psychiatrist said that he knew nothing about this topic, he needed to read. In the second week, he says, "I have read about it, but it’s necessary to observe you for two years before the diagnosis." On the third week, he says, "I see you’re fine." They sent me back, made notes for our doctor.
"I met my husband in the colony"
Then I was transferred from a large detachment to a small one, where there were seventy or eighty people. It was due to poor health and for safety reasons. The temperature was thirty-nine. They gave me a pill in the medical unit, and, like it or not, they sent me to work, to clean up. I almost died. And then I was transferred to a detachment, where mostly the elderly and weak people are kept.

I stayed there for eight months. They couldn’t determine what was wrong with me. At first, they thought I had HIV, then it turned out to be tuberculosis. But there I met the man who became my husband. Despite the complete "detransition" he perceived me as a woman. With him, others didn’t bother me anymore, and if someone approached, I turned them off.

Of course, we didn’t get close right away, I was looking closely. He took care of me. And he spent part of his pension on me. When we went to the store, he bought me everything I wanted.
Then, for my sake, this man stayed in the "zone." He is a disabled person of the first category. He applied for CR (conditional release — ed.), but withdrew his petition at the trial in order to stay with me. Then I realized that it was serious.
Soon, however, they determined that I had tuberculosis, and we were disconnected. I was transferred to another tuberculosis "zone." When I left, his blood pressure rose. The whole "zone" was agitated. I was asked to calm him down in the medical unit.

If the first colony was a strict regime, but for the "pioneers," then in this one, we were all together: both those who were for the first time and those who had been in prison. In some ways it was even simpler: experienced people, other concepts, even in some ways the attitude was more humane. The "thieves" were mainly in charge.

Although the administration’s attitude to compliance with the regime, to our category, was stricter. You could get fifteen days for a lighter. The detachments were smaller, there was less stress and work, the food was better, although not as it should be. Every two months — radiography, blood samples. First, in separate wards, and when you are cured — in general barracks.
From the statistics of the FPS of the Russian Federation*
*Data from the Health Management Office of the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation as of April 26, 2021
" — The total number of HIV-infected persons in detention places: 51,627 people;

 — The total number of convicts with tuberculosis: 9,209 people; <…>

— The number of disabled persons in detention places: 17,510 people, including disability category I — 391 people, disability category II — 7,087 people, disability category III — 9,993 people."

"Zone. HIV"
Read more about the situation of prisoners with social diseases and the situation with prison medicine in our project "Zone. HIV"
"I was given less than a thousand rubles"
In the new "zone" I asked the psychiatrist to send me back to the hospital. I say, "Two years have already passed, my intentions haven’t changed." But the psychiatrist said that she had no right to do the same thing a second time.

I don’t really believe in the idea creating of separate colonies for transgender people. Who will make an entire colony for several dozen people from all over Russia? In ordinary colonies, I think documents are important, but I would pay attention to physiology. If you haven’t had surgery, then you will have a conflict in the women’s zone. There was a case with a Belarusian transgender man. And he went to the women’s zone, because the physiology of the body is still female.
When I was released, I was given less than a thousand rubles. What were they thinking about? How can a person survive on this, being freed? Some will soon come back. Well, I had a smartphone, I sold it, bought a jacket and something else.
Then I was lucky: I applied for help to a project supporting transgender people. They sent me money for groceries, paid for an endocrinologist’s consultation and hormones for the first time. It would be good if public organizations helped in re-socialization.

What we have now, the state social protection, in fact, doesn’t work. At the labor exchange — one and a half thousand rubles a month. And who will recruit you to work right away when you are released? For trans people, there may be additional difficulties. And even if you are hired, what is there to live on for the first two weeks or a month? I’m not talking about buying hormones anymore.

Now I have passed the commission, the girl helped me with the money. Recently, I finally changed my documents. My husband and I spent two years apart. And then, first I released, and soon he was free. He got a job. Now we are deciding how to build a life together.
Egor Burtsev
Clinical psychologist,
specializes in working with trans people,
health expert
"Employees don’t know what to do with a trans person"
Despite the fact that prolonged isolation can negatively affect the psychological state, sometimes being a kind of torture, trans people who are in prison settings, as a rule, prefer a solitary cell.

The fact is that a transgender person usually cannot hide his status in prison, which increases the risk of humiliation, attacks and sexual violence. For other prisoners, and often employees who do not distinguish between gender identity and sexual orientation, a transgender person is perceived as homosexual.

More than that, it is connected with the conditions of the toilet, hygiene procedures, shower. Not all transgender people perform genital surgeries and, thus, will easily give themselves away in shared showers or even in a toilet that is not separated. Such procedures not only reveal the transgender status, but can be a reason for harassment, humiliation and violence.
As for sexual violence, it is often even more traumatic for trans people. They often experience serious discomfort in relation to the genitals. This is compounded by the fact that rapists usually perceive a trans person by his sex assigned at birth.
Such bullying and violence have such serious consequences that they often end in irreversible trauma or even suicide.

Often, the prison system employees are confused and don’t understand how to deal with a transgender person who is in custody. The decision largely depends on the personality of the employee. Someone will intentionally put a person in conditions that provoke bullying, someone will try to separate a transgender prisoner from the rest, at least for a while, until a final decision is made.

Sometimes the practice is used when transgender men are sent to the women’s "zone," which turns out to be much more comfortable for them than serving a sentence among men. Unfortunately, for trans women, this practice usually doesn’t work.
Reference: the process of changing documents in Russia
How does this happen in freedom?
Turning to a psychiatrist
The psychiatrist diagnoses F-64.0 and gives a referral to the medical commission.
Passing the commission
The Commission decides: "yes, required" or "no, not required." The certificate of the established form is signed by a psychiatrist, psychologist and sexologist.
Appeal to the Registry Office
According to the certificate, the documents are changed within a month in the registry office. A new birth certificate is issued, a passport and other documents are changed on its basis.
Artem Lapov
has been cooperating
with LGBT human rights organizations since 2013
Until 2018, transgender people often had to go to court to change their documents. According to the law, it is possible to change a gender marker only on the basis of a document of the established form given by a medical commission. It is written that there should be an appropriate form, but in practice, there was no any for many years.

Therefore, the registry offices had two ways: to accept any form of certificate, or not to accept it at all. The practice differed greatly by region, more often people had to go to court. It took on average from several months to a year. If the birth certificate was issued abroad, the procedure could last several years.

In 2018, the certificate form was finally adopted by the Ministry of Health. The draft form was not very good, but it was possible to finalize and improve it with the participation of activists. And now, fortunately, everything has changed administratively. If there is a standard form, signatures of doctors, seals, a medical license, then there are no reasons for refusal from the registry office. Problems arise only if the documents are lost, or the citizen was born in another country, then the process can last for years.

What is the procedure now?

A person comes to a psychiatrist, he/she is diagnosed with F-64.0. Then, depending on the region and the situation, some kind of observation may go on. Then the psychiatrist gives a referral to the commission on sexual reorientation. The Commission decides: "yes, required," or "no, not required." The certificate is signed by a psychiatrist, psychologist and sexologist. There may be difficulties with sexologists, there are not enough of them in the country. They can send you for some kind of examination.

If everything is in order, a standard certificate is issued. Then a person changes documents in the registry office within a month. First, he receives a new birth certificate, and on its basis, he changes his passport and other documents.
Medical commissions are different. Basically, people take them on a commercial basis. There are several free commissions. Some believe that a person should wait two years. Only after the "exposure," if he does not change his mind, they agree to approve. But in these two years, a person can die.
People don’t want to wait forever in their regions and they go to others, for example, to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Samara.

Some doctors believe that they have the right to interfere in their personal lives. There is a confusion of the concept of "orientation" and "gender identity". They say: how can we allow a change of documents if you turn out to be a lesbian or gay then? So, you are "not a real" transgender person, because it will be a same-sex marriage. They force a person to divorce, making it impossible to resume marriage in the future.

Now, fortunately, they don’t require surgery, they don’t force it. A few years ago, there were cases when the courts refused due to the fact that surgical correction or, at least, gender-affirmative hormone therapy wasn’t started.
4. Julia* / 5. Konstantin*
"Every time — 'an emergency'"
Ksenia Mikhailova — a lawyer, who cooperates with Russian LGBT organizations, including on issues of providing legal assistance to trans people who are subjecting to administrative or criminal prosecution.
In the police department
If a person’s documents are completely changed, then he is identified by his passport. In my work as a lawyer, I have almost never met cases of harassment in the police department when documents were changed. Even if the gender identity doesn’t fully correspond to the appearance. Employees can discuss this among themselves, but obviously, it doesn’t affect a person.

When the gender identity doesn’t correspond to the documents, then the person is also perceived by the passport. No matter what they look like. A request that employees don’t identify by passport usually causes an inadequate reaction. There have been cases when the police tried to accuse a person of some offenses or crimes after realizing that "something is wrong" with the identity.

For example, they brought a person after a family row to find out who abused whom. Suddenly, finding out that this is a trans person, they begin to accuse him of a completely different crime related to drug trafficking, forcing a person to admit it. How is transgenderism related to drugs? Nonsense. This is usually how homophobia and transphobia work. If a person has some additional vulnerability, sometimes hell begins.

There was a story when a trans girl was taken to the police. She was involved in prostitution, she had a conflict with a client.
When the police officers thought that this was a cisgender girl, she was treated more or less normally. But when they found out that she was a man according to the documents, their attitude changed dramatically. They tried to accuse her of distributing drugs, began to use physical abuse, in fact — torture. They were breaking her arm to make her confess.
There were other cases when, after learning about the transgender status, employees used unmotivated violence. Rather, it was motivated by hatred. When the man was released, he filed a complaint of abuse. Then they found him and demanded to withdraw the complaint under the threat of being accused of raping his girlfriend. There were also threats to put them in a common cell — this is a common place.
"Creatures like you cannot sit where people sit"
In a situation of criminal prosecution, it can be very different. I’ll tell you about two cases for illustrative purposes.

The first one is connected with a trans man with changed documents, but not completely changed body. He didn’t have any problems with the police, although he was charged with a felony. He hadn’t been negatively treated, all the documents were filled out correctly, cooperation with the investigation was reflected.

During his detention, he was placed in an TDC (temporary detention center — ed.). After visiting the doctor, it was found out that the body structure doesn’t correspond to the passport gender. They contacted several pre-trial detention centers, no one wanted to take him. Then he was released, he wasn’t taken into custody. The man before the sentence lived a normal life in freedom, in safety.

The second story is about a trans woman whose documents haven’t been changed. She also had mental peculiarities. In the police department, she was not kept in a cell for a day. She was forbidden to sit on a chair, they demanded that she stand by the window. At the same time, they said, "Creatures like you cannot sit where people sit."

And up until the lawyer called, she was humiliated, insulted, denied food, frankly bullied because of her trans-status. They addressed her as a man, they said that she was not a trans person, but an "ordinary faggot," that there are a lot of such people in prison, there are even prettier ones, that she’ll have to try to be "used for her intended purpose" there.
In the detention center
This trans girl was first quarantined in a men's cell. She says that she wasn't touched, because many had coronavirus and fever, they weren't up to bullying trans people.

Then she was transferred to a pre-trial detention center, where the lawyer's statement had already been so that the trans person would be provided with security. Firstly, she was in solitary confinement, then a person with the same identity was moved in with her. A petition was filed for a forensic psychiatric examination, documents on the presence of a mental disorder were attached.

She was transferred to the hospital department for psychiatry, where she was in a ward with another transgender person, then with an LGBT foreigner. It was quite safe. She complained only about prescribed medications that caused a feeling of depression.

Her transgender status was taken into account only when she was first placed in a safe place. Due to social disability, she didn't receive regular medical care, didn't go to an endocrinologist. Therefore, she wasn't prescribed hormones, she didn't take them regularly. In my experience, a prison endocrinologist can, at best, be expected to confirm the appointment of a civilian doctor.

She was declared insane, medical measures were applied in an inpatient facility. She is in the men's department. She says that at first there were problems, but then the doctors had a conversation with other patients, and everything had returned to normal.
"Between 'Scylla and Charybdis'"
As I said earlier, a lot depends on the documents. As a rule, the attitude is better if the documents correspond to the identity. If not, problems often start, the attitude can be terrible.

For employees, a slip of paper is important. Then you are like a person for them, since the state has admitted your right. At the same time, they can use the most disgusting words behind your back, and the pronoun "it" is the softest thing that can be. A lot depends on the region and the case. This is not only Moscow and St. Petersburg. There are examples of normal relations in other regions.
The penal enforcement system takes into account the trans-status. First of all, in order to reduce their own problems. Unfortunately, they don’t have an internal protocol on how to act in such cases. Such a document would be the first step to solve the problem.
Nevertheless, they understand that it is impossible to keep transgender people with men. At the same time, they are not supposed to be kept together with people whose gender differs from their passport data. Between these "Scylla and Charybdis," they somehow try to move.

That trans man was placed in jail after the verdict was announced before it was enacted. He was with all the supporting documents. Despite mastectomy, the reproductive system was preserved. In the case of sexual intercourse, he could become pregnant. A security application was submitted, but they reacted themselves, even before it. This pleased me: it means that if a trans person doesn’t have a lawyer, there is a chance that he’ll be treated humanely.

However, the conditions in the detention center were not the best. At first, it was a punishment cell. The staff decided that it was a "safe place" for them. The PMC (Public Monitoring Commission in detention sites — ed.) and I didn’t like that practice, and after our statements, he was transferred to the hospital, to the hospital wards.

When a person was in solitary confinement, the library didn’t work. He complained about the lack of communication, that when he was alone, he was going crazy with boredom. I turned to a trans organization to at least write letters to him.
"Male documents, female sentence"
When the issue of sentencing arose, the court requested papers to make sure that the change of documents occurred without violations. Apparently, the judge wanted to find a clue to impose punishment as a woman. According to a serious article, the conditions of serving for men and women may differ.

All the time, from the moment the criminal case was initiated, both the investigators, the judge and the state prosecutor offered him to "roll back" the transition. They didn’t understand that it is a rather lengthy procedure, and most likely you won’t have time, even if you want to.

After a forensic medical examination, the court handed down an interesting verdict. It said that a change of the gender marker was established in the documents, but the examination showed the presence of a preserved female reproductive system. Therefore, the sentence is passed as a woman: not strict, but a general regime. Before the entry into force, a specific investigative, "mixed" isolation cell was appointed, where both men and women are kept. Usually in St. Petersburg, the Federal Penitentiary Service appoints the insulator independently, but an exception was made here.

While waiting for the entry into force, work was carried out with the Federal Penitentiary Service. At that time, thanks to the international media story there was another case with a trans man from Belarus. The deputy head of the FPS was already aware of the situation. They sent documents to Moscow to offer a women’s colony.

He tried to arrange for him to be left in the pre-trial detention center for household work. They got used to him, they didn’t offend him. He was told that it was unlikely to work out, the article was heavy. After the verdict was approved, it turned out that in the region where he was supposed to serve his sentence, neither women’s nor men’s colonies wanted to see him. As a result, he was left in the household unit, where the conditions suited him.
His hormone use was confirmed by a doctor in the detention center, but the system avoids responsibility for providing treatment. Fortunately, they were transmitting hormones that could have been ordered at the FPS pharmacy. Without support from the outside, there would have been no hormones.

It’s a good thing we managed to come to an agreement. They might not have done it anywhere else. Then you would be left without hormones. A person doesn’t get the medicines he needs for his health. You can’t, as at large, earn and buy in a pharmacy. So, for good, the system should provide hormones or, at least, allow the help of social organizations.

The detention center also began to propose "detransition " To say, after serving part of the sentence, apply for transfer to a colony settlement. But going to a men’s colony isn’t the safest option in his case. Of course, it would be important to set a precedent by changing documents while serving a sentence. But an ethical question arises, because he has a male identity, and then, you go back to what you left behind. Then change everything back?
The administration’s passion became weaker because it was an additional strain for the system. After the conversation, they realized that they needed an exit commission, it needed to be organized somehow. So that issue was frozen.
Ideally, any detainee should have access to the registry office system, to medical care. After all, prisoners have the right to register a marriage, name change. So, there should be a right to change the gender marker in the documents, regardless of the stage of the procedure. In general, in jails many legally significant actions are poorly regulated, their implementation is difficult.

Another problem is the existence of a caste system, among other things, supported by the administration. It creates an environment where the most vulnerable people, such as LGBT people, including transgender people, are at greatest risk. If it's a person you need to put additional pressure on, the system can take full advantage of his vulnerability.
From these stories, from the fact that my clients often meet other trans people, from publications in the media, we see that these are not isolated cases, that there are many such people in Russia, although many remain behind the scenes of public attention.
The system also sees such people, it just doesn't reflect them in the documents. FPS documents mention transgender people for the only time: in the context of medical examinations of employees when applying for a job.

The problem is that until now there is no universal protocol, no recommendations that would provide for the treatment of trans-persons. And for the employees, a clear instruction would make life much easier. Currently, they have to individually handle all emergencies.
What's next?
Reporting on the situation of trans people in prisons, the complexities and challenges they face is only the first step in changing the situation.

The second is to involve trans-activists and experts in the development of methodological recommendations for the Federal Penal Correction Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Despite the overall conservative trend, it also may be of interest to the officials. Today, they have no regulations, but clearly prescribed procedures could make life much easier for them when interacting with trans people.

We shouldn't forget the importance of public support. A public campaign could not only draw attention to the topic but also become an additional catalyst for the transformation and humanization of the prison system with regard to trans people.
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Project team
management, expertise, interview: Leonid Agafonov,
interview, texts, design, layout: Aleksei Sergeev,
editing, translation: Marina Kvashnina,
proofreader: Lydia Simakova,
social media support: Natalia Sivokhina,
administrator: Natalia Voznesenskaya,
illustrations: Maria Svyatyh,
photos: Olga Kholodnaya.
Thank you
Tatiana Dorutina, Mila Filosauv (France), Dr. Eva-Lilith Tsvetkova, Tbilisi Shelter City and Sasha Delemenchuk, Front Line Defenders, ILGA Europe, Svyatoslav Khromenkov, Irina Protasova

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