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Transgender human rights lawyer announces bid for Russian president

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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MOSCOW — A transgender attorney and Chairperson for the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights announced Monday her intent to run for President of the Russian Federation.

Masha Bast, 38, who has worked on some of the most high-profile and politically sensitive cases in the country, came out as a bisexual, transgender woman on Sept. 4, amid a protest over Russia’s anti-gay legislation and recent crackdown on LGBT people.

Masha Bast

Masha Bast

In her announcement, she said that she would no longer be living her life as Yevgeny Arkhipov, but as Masha Bast. She also invited people to follow her progress on Facebook as she undergoes hormone treatment and surgeries, and also said she would answer any questions that they may have about her journey.

Bast said her campaign will focus on fighting corruption, education, free medical care, affordable energy, a more independent Russian economy, and the reform of the law enforcement system. She added that she would like to see the presidential term reduced from six years to four years, with only one chance at reelection.

Bast added that she supports human rights and freedoms, justice, and opposes discrimination against anyone on any grounds — including discrimination against women, and on the basiss of sexual orientation and gender identity.

She said she supports same-sex marriage, including the right to adoption.

If elected, Bast would become Russia’s first woman president.

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In a recent interview with the English language Moscow Times, Bast said Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law was a factor for her decision to go public with her gender identity.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

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