Masha Bast, Top Russian Lawyer, Comes Out As Transgender In Protest Of Anti-Gay Laws

The Huffington Post | By James Nichols
Posted: 09/13/2013 12:27 pm EDT

Masha Bast, Chairwoman for the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human
Rights, has come out as transgender in protest of Russia’s anti-gay
legislation and recent crackdown on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(LGBT) individuals. In the past, Bast has overseen some of the most
high-profile, politically- charged legal battles in the country.

In a press release dated last week, Bast announced <
http://www.themosco wtimes.com/ news/article/ qa-transgender- lawyer-comes- out-in-protest/ 486021.html>
that she would no longer be living her life as Yevgeny Arkhipov, but as
Masha Bast. The activist also extended an invitation to readers to follow
her journey via Facebook facebook. com/masha. abramova. 547> , as
she undergoes hormone treatment and surgeries in order to make her
physicality correspond with her gender identity.

In a recent question and answer interview with The Moscow Times <
http://www.themosco wtimes.com/ news/article/ qa-transgender- lawyer-comes- out-in-protest/ 486021.html>
, Bast adressed questions surrounding her advocacy, gender identiity, and
attempted to clarifiy what it means to be transgender within the hostile
anti-LGBT Russian climate.

When asked about her decision to come out publicly now, she responded:

«There were three reasons for my decision. First, it would have been very
difficult for me personally not to come out. Second, having represented
people in the Manezh Square, Primorsky partisans, and Bolotnaya cases, when
those finished up I finally had the opportunity to come out. Third, my
coming out was a protest against what is going on in Russia today. I
couldn’t just sit there and do nothing.»

She went on to explain her gender identity in further detail, noting in
part:

«There are people who actively choose their gender, and there are people
who don’t think about it, or they try and avoid questioning it because of
their religious beliefs or other reasons. Those who choose to decide their
own gender because their internal gender doesn’t match their external
appearance are called transgender, especially when they take visible steps
to make their external gender match their internal gender. I don’t think of
myself as transgender though — I just think of myself as a woman. I do,
however, consider myself part of the LGBT community because we are all in
the minority.»

Calling the gay propaganda law “completely wrong,” she went on to note, “I
remember being 10 and wanting to be a girl and putting on girl’s clothes. I
didn’t understand what was happening to me … I went to dances dressed as
a girl back when I looked more feminine.”

You can read the whole interview at The Moscow Times <
http://www.themosco wtimes.com/ news/article/ qa-transgender- lawyer-comes- out-in-protest/ 486021.html>
, and be sure to follow Bast’s journey via Facebook <
https://www. facebook. com/masha. abramova. 547> and YouTube <
http://www.youtube. com/channel/ UCdb4nv2lDOUDaXO m7DUy5bQ? feature=watch> .

Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda&qu ot; <
http://www.policymi c.com/articles/ 61689/everything -you-need- to-know-about- russia-s- anti-gay- propaganda– laws>
law has enabled and galvanized a culture of fear and violence for LGBT
citizens, resulting in public acts of violence <
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ 2013/08/20/ russian-transgen der-woman- beaten_n_ 3779723.html>
and radical anti-gay discourse <
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ 2013/08/12/ dmitri-kusilev- degrades- lgbt-tv_n_ 3743414.html>
from the mouths of Russian officials.

Most recently, Russian politicians are attempting to push a bill that would
take children away <
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ 2013/09/05/ russian-lawmaker -proposes_ 0_n_3873095. html>
from their LGBT parents, resulting in a prominent activist threatening to
out closeted Russian politicians <
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ 2013/09/09/ elena-kostyuchen ko-out-russian- politicians_ n_3895491. html>
that vote for the bill to pass. Well-known Russian news anchor Anton
Krasovsky was also fired in mid-August <
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ 2013/08/14/ anton-krasovsky- russian-journali st_n_3758279. html>
after coming out while on the air.

Copyright © 2013 TheHuffingtonPost. com, Inc.

http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ 2013/09/13/ masha-bast- transgender- russia-lawyer_ n_3920998. html

 

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