She decided to come out publicly for the sake of fighting discrimination
A transgender woman who worked for Russia's top domestic security service for more than a decade, before coming out and starting a career as a makeup artist, has spoken out in an effort to tackle social stigma.
In a profile published by local news site Znak on Monday, Katerina Myers, 30, shared her experience of male-to-female transition and hormone replacement therapy, which she undertook while working as a border guard as part of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB. She announced her new identity on Instagram in December, and told reporters she'd decided to do so in order to combat the prejudices she and others have dealt with.
"I want to fight this system of discrimination," she explained. "There are many people like me in the special forces. There are also gays and lesbians. Does this really make them bad workers? [Russian President Vladimir] Putin said that we have no discrimination, and I'd like for his words to become true."
Myers said that she would have liked to keep working in the FSB, but that this was impossible. According to her, former colleagues told her that their bosses spoke badly of her in private, and that she had received reprimands from her superiors after beginning her transition.
"My commander talked about the honor of being an officer, but with all my 'problems', I held onto this honor," Myers recounted. "Unlike him, I was never screaming drunk at 4 in the morning, I wouldn't even litter a toothpick. I was a transgender captain."
At the end of 2021, about a year into her transition, Myers left the FSB. She subsequently moved to Moscow, where she now works as a makeup artist.
"In a masculine group it's difficult not to be like everyone else," she said about her exit from the security agency. "Such a person immediately becomes an object of mockery. That's how it happened with me."
At a press conference in December, President Putin explained his views on transgender rights, saying that he believes Russian society should resist progressive ideas that he claims are being imported from the West. "I believe that the traditional approach is correct," he said. "Male is male, female is female, mother is mother, and father is father. I sincerely hope that our society has the moral armor to protect us against this."
In 2020, the Russian cabinet rejected amendments to the country's family code that would have banned people from legally changing their gender on their birth certificate. The decision was hailed by activists as a victory for transgender rights, because the proposed changes would have made it impossible to receive a new passport or ID with a different gender.