Help trans people in Russian prisons

Constant misgendering, insults and humiliation. Prohibition of necessary hormones and wearing clothes of one's gender. Sexual abuse, the dirtiest and hardest work among the lower caste. High risk of suicide. Let's end this nightmare together!

In Russia, trans people are one of the most vulnerable and discriminated groups in the prison system.

Ksenia Mikhailova, lawyer:

"When the police officers found out that she was a man according to the documents, their attitude changed dramatically. They tried to accuse her of distributing drugs and began to use physical abuse, in fact — torture. They were breaking her arm to make her confess."

"One trans woman 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. They said, "Creatures like you cannot sit where people sit."

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."

"We see that there are many such people. But there are no protocols in the prison system on how to deal with them."

Alina*, ex-prisoner:

"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."

"They didn’t provide any option to live in a safe space. I lived with others among the "offended." This is the very bottom of the prison hierarchy. A transgender person will immediately fall into this caste and it is much more difficult to survive within this category than with other prisoners.

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. For the "offended," this is an opportunity to get tea, cigarettes, some other things for their "services." Condoms are officially prohibited." 

Eugenia, ex-prisoner:

"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.

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.

Of course, this is due to my transgender status. At disciplinary commissions, Makeev always consciously addressed me as a man. Of course, I corrected him. I was given a penalty for this. He once told me, "People like you need to be locked up from society for a long time. Moreover, in male colonies."

"Woman. Prison. Society" and "Alliance of Heterosexuals and LGBT for Equality (Russia)" published the "Transformation" project and launched a campaign to humanize the Russian prison system for transgender people.

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To Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation:

Dear Mrs. Moskalkova!

The rights of transgender prisoners in Russia are systematically violated. We know about this from their stories, complaints to PMC members, testimonies of lawyers and human rights activists, and publications in the media.

At the same time, in the prison system itself, trans people are not taken into account at all, no statistics are collected about them. For the penitentiary system, there are only men and women according to their passport gender marker.

To date, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Penitentiary Service do not have any regulatory documents for working with this group of people.  Since transgender people are invisible to the system, their needs and problems are also invisible.

This leads to many problems, human rights violations and often dire consequences for transgender prisoners: misgendering, insults and humiliation, prohibition of necessary hormones and wearing clothes of one's gender, violence, sexual abuse, the dirtiest and hardest work among the lower caste of "offended", high risk of suicide, etc.

We have collected the main ones in our human rights documentary project "Transformation", which we invite you to carefully read. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, the fact of being transgender is often used by officers to put pressure on prisoners (placement in a cell for the "offended", prohibition of necessary hormonal medicines, etc.). 

The penal system obviously needs to transform the attitude towards trans people.

We ask you to take the initiative to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia to create methodological recommendations together with experts, representatives of civil society to ensure the rights of transgender prisoners.


Human Rights project "Woman. Prison. Society",

Alliance of Heterosexuals and LGBT for Equality (Russia).

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Goal: 20,000