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Trans man arrested in Russia for possessing testosterone

The trans man had been importing his own hormones from Belarus for 18 months without problem

Trans man arrested in Russia for possessing testosterone
A trans man in Russia was arrested for importing testosterone to help his transition. | Photo: Pixabay

Trans activists in Russia have called for all criminal charges against a trans man who had bought hormone medication abroad to be dropped.

Vladislav K* had been buying hormones online from neighboring Belarus for about 18 months to help with his medical transition.

He was forced into buying the testosterone online because access to adequate medical treatment for trans people is very hard in Russia.

‘I bought on foreign websites – that is, Belarus. For a while-these eighteen months-everything was fine,’ he told Zona Media.

‘I did not even know in principle that it was forbidden.’

But on 21 November, 2017 Vladislav was stopped by two customs agents at the post office. He was there to pick up his latest order.

‘They introduced themselves and said that they had received a tip about me that I was getting something illegal at the post office,’ he said.

‘They took me to their car… seized my parcel, opened it, there was a drug – as they expected, as I expected.’

Customs interrogated him about whether he was an athlete taking the drugs to enhance his sporting performance. They also investigated whether he was importing drugs to sell them in Russia.

‘I immediately said: “I’m transgender, and I need it.” Well, people – it’s understandable… they did not understand – they were very surprised very much,’ Vladislav said.

He was then charged smuggling of superpotent substances. If convicted it carries a jail term between five and 10 years and fine of 1 million roubles (US$17,740).

End criminal prosecution

Trans activists including the Trans* Coalition said the charges against Vladislav are unacceptable

‘Transgender men who have decided to transition usually take testosterone for life, as gender changes in the body require lifelong medical attention,’ the coalition said in a statement.

The coalition said the combination of low access to good medical care, poor doctor training, transphobia in society and the high cost of hormones in Russia forces people to import their own medications.

‘The criminal prosecution of a trans person who needs medical care is inhumane and inadequate to international legal norms,’ the Coalition said.

‘We demand unconditional termination of the criminal prosecution of Vladislav K. and removal of all charges from him.’

LGBTI people in Russia have face increased persecution and violence since the government introduced an anti-gay propaganda law in 2013.

But some hope was given to the community last week, when the Health Ministry made it easier for trans people to acquire a medical certificate to more easily update their gender on official documents.


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