The judges at the Soviet District Court in Bryansk, November 2011. Photo courtesy of the court’s website
Court in Bryansk Sends Transgender Woman to Prison for Three Years for “Distributing Pornography”
November 30, 2019
The Soviet District Court in Bryansk has sentenced a transgender woman named Michelle. She was accused of distributing pornography depicting minors, punishable under Article 242.1.1 of the Russian Criminal Code, according to Maria Chashchilova, a lawyer with the Moscow Community Center for LGBT Initiatives.
The woman was sent to prison for three years for posting several manga drawings—depictions of nude Japanese cartoon characters—on her page on the VK social network. A forensic inquiry established the drawings depicted “male persons under fourteen years of age.”
“The pictures were on her page for a year before they were noticed,” said Chashchilova.
The lawyer noted that she had been corresponding with Michelle for the last ten days via VK.
Michelle had not completed her gender transition and had not changed her ID papers, so she was still identified by a male name in her internal passport. She worked as a physician at the city hospital. Chashchilova said Michelle might not survive in prison, as she was a third-class disabled person and had bladder cancer.
“Michelle did not have gender reassignment surgery, only hormone therapy. Most likely, she does not have a doctor’s report confirming her sex change, which means she won’t get hormone drugs in prison. This is quite dangerous. Michelle’s cancer is in remission. Due to the lack of hormones, her chronic ailments—cancer, primarily—will worsen, and terrible things will happen to her,” Chashchilova noted.
The transgender woman could be sent to a common cell in the men’s section of a prison, as she is listed as a man in her ID papers.
“If she can flip a switch, introducing herself by her male name and acting like a man, she could have a chance [of surviving in an all-male environment] at least for a while,” Chashchilova suggested.
It is not yet known where Michelle will serve her sentence: the Moscow Community Center only has a copy of the indictment. Chashchilova has written an appeal to the Public Monitoring Commission. According to her, this was the only way to learn about the current state of Michelle’s health.
UPDATE. Michelle’s close friend Lada Preobrazhenskaya has told Novaya Gazeta that the investigation began late this past summer. Michelle had been on her own recognizance for three months. She agreed to cooperate with the investigation and signed a confession. Preobrazhenskaya noted that, from the outset, Michelle had refused the help of her friends in finding and paying a lawyer, as she did not take the accusations seriously.
Thanks to George Losev for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader