Information about the new certificate being developed appeared on the federal website on October 5th. The order to develop the certificate was signed by the Minister of Health V.I. Skvortsova. The order will take effect on January 1st 2018.
In accordance with Article 70 of Federal Law ‘On Acts of Civil Status’, in order to change their gender marker in legal documents, a transgender individual in Russia must submit a medical certificate issued by a medical organization and confirming a sex change to the Civil Registry Office. The Ministry of Health was charged to develop and approve a form of such a certificate in 1998, but no such document has been developed until now.
Without such a certificate the legal gender recognition process in Russia has been problematic for a majority of transgender persons, who have only been able to obtain new birth certificate and change their gender markers through court proceedings.
Now that the form for the certificate is finally being developed, the legal gender recognition process should, in theory, become much simpler and faster for Russian transgender people. However, even on this stage of development, there is a large number of concerns and questions.
According to the new procedure of receiving the medical certificate, a transgender person has to:
– Undergo psychiatric evaluation for at least 1,5 years;
– Receive a referral from the psychiatrist for “establishing sexual reorientation”;
– Be evaluated by a medical commission, consisting of a psychiatrist, a sexologist and a medical psychologist.
The commission can either approve giving the transgender person a certificate or refuse to do so. The certificate is valid for one year.
No explanation is given as to why the psychiatric evaluation period has to be so long or why the certificate is only valid for one year. It is also unclear if a transgender person can apply for evaluation for the second time after being refused by the commission.
Another concern is that the diagnosis F64.0 “transsexualism” (ICD-10) is not mentioned anywhere in the proposed project (neither in the certificate form, nor in the procedure of issuing the certificate).
Instead, the Ministry of Health uses the term “sexual reorientation”.
This raises a number of questions: how will “reorientation” be evaluated, which criteria will be used, will the previously received medical documents containing the diagnosis F64.0 be still relevant for legal gender recognition?
Finally, the proposed project does not mention transition-related surgeries or hormonal treatment. On one side, it may mean that receiving the new certificate and obtaining legal gender recognition will be possible without surgeries. On the other side, it is unclear if the new certificate will permit undergoing a surgery and/or hormonal treatment.
The public discussion for the new project will last until October 19th. During this period of time Transgender Legal Defense Project lawyers will develop and send recommendations and questions to the Ministry of Health.