Russian trans* activists tie up their efforts to combat transphobia and discrimination

On November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance was held to remember those killed by transphobic violence. This day was founded in 1999 when people went out to commemorate the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester. In 2016, 295 murders of transgender people were monitored all over the world. The research of the Transgender Legal Defense Project monitored 120 cases of violation of transgender people rights in Russia. All of that is just a small part of the challenges transgender people face in their everyday life.

In order to tackle this situation, Russian trans* activists decided to tie up their efforts. On November 3, the first Preconference for the representatives of the initiatives for trans* people and independent trans* activists took place in Moscow. 25 trans* activists from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Ekaterinburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Perm, Rostov-on-Done and Tyumen participated. The Preconference was organized as a part of the Annual Forum for LGBT Activists with the support of the Russian LGBT Network.

At the Preconference, the Resolution defining the main priorities of joint activities was adopted. Those activities are in the following areas:
- Labor rights and economic empowerment;
- Medical aid;
- Mobilization of the community;
- Communication with mass media;
- Countering transphobia and queerphobia;
- Education and increasing awareness on gender identity among professional communities;
- Initiation of scientific research;
- Increasing visibility of trans* agenda;
- Legal reassignment procedures’ simplification;
- Increasing visibility and importance of trans* voices within LGBTIQA+ movement.

Moreover, such important issues as depathologization of transgenderness and participation of trans* activists in the global trans* movement were discussed.

It is planned, that in the spring 2017, new meeting of the Russian trans* activists will take place. At this meeting, trans* activists will discuss further steps of joint work.

Alexandra Yaseneva, participant of the Preconference from Trans* Coalition on Post-soviet space

During this short day, various Russian trans* initiatives were trying to get alone with each other, to find a common ground and to understand, how they can cooperate with benefits for all. There is no need to say that it was a hard day. Few times my mood and sprit were fluctuating from “It was hopeless, it would not work!” to “Here it is – here and now the history was made!” The feeling that in few hours we had to do something that usually took few days accelerated the pressure. However, when I could see how the potential was realized, how people destined to work together met each other, how new decisions were made and people having serious disagreements got alone with each other – it was inspiring. And when finally Robin T. and I got the responsibility to absorb everything said, thought and felt at the meeting to create the Resolution, it was a big challenge. But we managed to do that because our draft was discussed collectively. I hope that grains seeded at the Preconference will be fruitful, and the decisions written down on the paper will become a reality.
With solidarity,
Alexandra Yaseneva
Egor Burtsev, Initiative Group “Human to Human”

For me this meeting is a very important and long awaited event. Trans* activism in Russia exists only few years, and now it mostly consists of various separated groups, initiatives, and activists. All of us have our own views and concepts on the movement and ways to support transgender people. But I believe that our strength is in unity. And by bringing initiatives and activists together, uniting our efforts, defining tasks and mobilizing resources we can achieve truly a lot!
It was my pleasure to meet both very young trans* activist (who are in the beginning of their way, but already doing and knowing a lot) from all over Russia, and those who are part of the movement from the very beginning. It was amazing to learn from the experience of initiatives similar to our own (we support transgender people).
I am glad that this meeting took place, and I believe that we stand in the beginning of a long track; it will be hard to follow this track, but even the idea itself is so inspiring.

Kirill Sabir, Head of the Group "FtM-Phoenix"

Organization of the first Preconference for transgender people is a clear evidence that there is a real (offline) trans-movement in Russia. It is a sign that we grew a lot qualitatively and quantitatively for the past few years. The outlined consolidation of trans-activists will help us to get rid of the overload and lack of resources; will promote the exchange of experience and future development. By defining common goals, we will be able to achieve substantial changes and resist the threats. And I also believe, that we will feel more comfortable being a part of a big trans-activists family.

David Isteev, the organizer of the Preconference of trans* activists

We all are very different, and in each region there are different urgent issues transgender people face. Behind each participant of the Preconference there is a personal story, personal experience. Consolidation of trans* activists is the consolidation of experience to solve the existing problems. And I am sure that together we can do more!
Personally, I want to break the existing stereotypes claiming that transgender people have no future. People make judgements about us on the base of the stories from TV. Largely our lives are not that different from lives of cisgender people – the same work, family issues, and interests. But transgenderness is always with us, and one has to break himself to change the documents or to get adequate medical aid. Life is even more difficult for those who are in the transition or not ready for surgery or hormonal therapy for personal reasons. It is a life full of stress and fears. It should not be that way; every life is priceless. I believe that consolidation of trans* activists is the beginning that will help us to reverse the situation.