Masha Bast, a transgender attorney with the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, has announced her plans to run for president of Russia in 2018. Bast recently made headlines when she publicly came out as a bisexual transgender woman.
In spite of Russia's newly enacted law criminalizing "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," Bast felt obligated go public with the details of her sexuality. During an interview with the Moscow Times, Bast explained her thought process:
"There were three reasons for my decision. First, it would have been very difficult for me personally not to come out. Second, having represented people in the Manezh Square, Primorsky partisans, and Bolotnaya cases, when those finished up I finally had the opportunity to come out. Third, my coming out was a protest against what is going on in Russia today. I couldn't just sit there and do nothing."
Bast further explained her perspective on sexual orientation and sexual 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. 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."
Given her unique perspective on LGBT rights in Russia, it comes as no surprise that Bast intends to bring Russia into the new century. In a statement on her Facebook page, Bast said "I decided to hit the Middle Ages and Putin, I personally want to live in the 21st Century."
But Bast's goals for Russia go far beyond her desire to protect LGBT rights. In the press release announcing her intent to run, Bast listen many progressive ambitions, including the protection of free education, reform of the prison system, establishment of freedom of speech, rejection of compulsory military service, and reformation of the country's electoral system.
Ultimately Bast hopes to incorporate Western European socialist ideals into Russian law and eventually integrate Russia with the European Union. According to her press release, Russia is on the verge of collapse and may soon face inter-ethnic, inter-religious, and civil wars. As a human rights defender, Masha Bast is intent on insuring that Russia's future is unified around reason, goodness, and progress.