Russia votes to ban gender-affirming surgery for transgender people

Human rights activists worry this legislation will force trans people to turn to unsafe underground markets for healthcare, negatively impact mental health, and contribute to further distress.

Protestor holds sign that reads LGBT Russia representing new legislation banning transgender healthcare.
Image: Shutterstock: Gints Ivuskans

On Thursday, July 13, the lower house of parliament in Russia, the Duma, voted to ban all transgender healthcare, including gender-affirming surgery.

The new bill, passed unanimously by the Duma, bans “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person”. It also prevents transgender people from adopting children or acting as legal guardians of minors, restricts registry offices from updating official documents to align with their gender, and may introduce the possibility to annul marriages in which one person has “changed gender”.

Human rights activists are worried that this legislation, first introduced in May, will force trans people to turn to unsafe underground markets for hormones, negatively impact mental health, and further contribute to distress.

Yan Dvorkin, a psychologist and trans man who leads a Russian NGO for trans people called Centre-T, described how his centre has seen a drastic increase in people requesting assistance in recent weeks as they fear their opportunity to access these resources will soon be taken away. He called the vote a “fascist” measure that would “deprive people of medical assistance”. 

Russia’s first transgender politician, Yulia Alyoshina, said: “Once the bill becomes law, the repercussions will be harsh, as transgender individuals will be denied the right for medical care, which is constitutionally guaranteed…This bill is not just discriminatory, it is a real genocide of transgender people”.


This legislation is yet another step backwards for transgender people in Russia. Putin continues to crack down on LGBTQ+ rights, claiming to protect Russia from Westernised ideologies that do not align with Russian “traditional values”.

In December, Russia passed new legislation that criminalises the promotion of LGBTQ+ relationships and identities in books, media, and cinema, which quickly led to the closing of Russia’s only queer museum.

Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin ordered clinics in Russia to treat LGBTQ+ people for a “mental disorder”, which effectively reversed the country’s decision to remove same-sex attraction from the list of mental disorders in 1999.

Now, if the legislation banning gender-affirming healthcare is approved by the upper-house Federation Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be able to sign it into law.

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