Oleg Ponomarev shares the encounters of transgender men and women within Russia

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In a country exactly where identifying as LGBTQ+ may threaten your existence, the openness with which Ponomarev’s participants share their stories carves a path for others to do the same

An amendment to the Ruskies constitution, which was made in This summer 2020 and signed straight into law in April 2021 , identifies that marriage must be the union between a man and also a woman. Previously, under Russian law, transgender people can change their legal sex. However , the amendment today states that a person’s sex cannot be altered and outlaws marriage with a transgender individual. The amendment is just one of many targeted at the transgender local community, and includes a ban on transgender individuals from implementing children. These revisions intensify Russia’s years-long crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights and further discriminate against transgender people, who have already have no access to transition-related healthcare services, or offical support against discrimination.

Oleg Ponomarev has been photographing transgender men and women in their homes within Russia for Transition – a series that received initial prize in the Portraits category of the 2021 World Push Photo Contest . The particroipants are among the first transgender people in the nation to openly discuss their particular experiences without hiding their own identities. The photographer creates: “The stories of these individuals are not stories of the struggle for the rights of any particular community. These are the stories of the struggle for the basic human right: the right to exist. ”

Inside a country where identifying because LGBTQ+ can threaten one’s existence, the openness with which Ponomarev’s participants share their particular experiences carves out the path for others to do the same. Here, Ponomarev shares the particular stories of Ekaterina, Ignat, Mark, Yura, Marina and Sofia.

“I never ask to be tackled in the feminine gender. I realize no point in this. Dont really want to bother anyone, or look for the guilty types, and I don’t understand such a position. Nature has smudged, but the responsibility has moved to society — it really is intolerant and keeps choices closed. I don’t feel that anyone is imposing anything on me. You can call me even Ivan if you have the very center to say this. I began transitioning at 31, when my third marriage finished. In the past, I did not have an adequate amount of information. My psychological condition began to scare me, everything was moving towards a negative outcome, but I wanted to live. It’s been about a 12 months and a half since I started the particular transition, and now I am right here, in a state I just visited in my wildest dreams. There are plenty of reasons to be proud. Nature has done everything it might to spoil my life, but I am still alive, having a good time, doing what seemed unattainable. ”

“It is very important not to view gender transitioning like a curse or a punishment. I often hear trans people use expressions like, ‘I was born in the wrong body, ’ or ‘gender shifting is a curse I have to offer with’. But it is possible to check out this situation from a different viewpoint. Being a trans person turned into an incredible experience for me. The feeling of self-improvement and self-acceptance. If I were born a guy, many things in my life wouldn’t have happened. Maybe I actually wouldn’t have become an avant-garde musician, or musician in any way. I would be living a completely different life. I don’t need different life — I absolutely love mine. The more unveiled faces and personal stories we now have, the easier it will be for culture to accept us. I want us to be viewed as equals, not viewed from up large. ”

“I cannot remember a single happy day at school. The particular bullying continued throughout most of nine grades. I could not bear staying there for 2 more years. Both college students and teachers pressured me personally. I was a child, but they spoke to me as if I was a criminal who had destroyed their entire family. It was horrifying. Even the school psychologist bullied me. I became available to him about attempting to use masculine pronouns, and asked him to keep it a secret. He was the 1st stranger I confided within about everything – it had been a huge mistake. When the full school found out, insults plus humiliation became permanent. It had been a living hell… Thanks to the changeover, I stopped feeling just like a stranger in my own entire body. ”

“Growing up the mother had uncontrolled reactions of aggression. She would strike me right at the front door. When I was 12, We jumped off a connection but survived. A year afterwards, my mother committed committing suicide. At the age of 17 I was followed. The woman who adopted myself had a daughter, but we’re able to not find common floor. Her mother saved myself from the orphanage, but our family did not work out. I remaining home and got a job. While talking to a supervisor, I realised through their own voice that they were experiencing hormonal therapy. When we 1st met, it was raining, and am had nowhere to go, yet he offered me a place to stay. In the morning I found that my torn clothes were stitched up, and green tea was brewed in a thermos. I was looking at it and could not believe my eyes. He taught me about junk therapy, we became close up, and are now friends. ”

“Adults have already been saying homosexuality is bad since I was a kid. Then simply religion became involved and so they told me it was a sin. I felt they wanted me to be something Used to do not want myself. I was prepared to do anything just to become a good child for mother and father. I lived that way until I turned 18. With school, I was bullied. These people cut my hair off, kicked me, and spat on my face. The guidelines children have at college are like those of wild monsters. After the transition, everything improved. Most of the time I like what I notice in the mirror, but it is more about formation of personality. The most important changes did not come from hormonal drugs, but through what I read, observed and thought. People should be taught that their feelings are not sinful and there is nothing shameful about them. The work should not be carried out by a specific child, but by society. People shouldn’t be beaten at home or even in the streets in order to figure out how to interact with society. To do this, naturally , you need to change the law. LGBT adolescents do not feel guarded at home, at school, or on the streets. That is the reason behind the problem. ”

“I started transitioning at thirty-two, but I had experienced certain feelings from the age of three. I enjoyed making clothes for girls, for example. Back then, I lived with my mom who was a rather authoritarian individual. She imposed ideas upon me, making me think that there was only one right way. My mother saw me personally in a certain way, and am had to live up to that. Our role was the knight from the fairytale, but I’ve consistently had a vague desire for something different. My mother still hasn’t accepted my transition. With her, I am a boy, a son, and that is it… I fell in love with Saint Petersburg and moved there. The town is often referred to as the ‘gay capital’ of Russia, but even here, conflicts are certainly not uncommon. Once I was dressed up as a woman, walking with a friend of mine. Two drunk men started bothering us. I started talking to them, but they began defeating me instead. I did not really respond, bearing the blows silently…. It turned out that they had been two policemen off responsibility. ”

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography within April 2018, and presently holds the position of On the internet Editor. She studied English language Literature and History of Artwork at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA within Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Journal, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, as well as the Architects Journal.

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