Russia makes no sense

Russia has decreed that transgender people are not allowed to drive. Why, you might wonder?

Many Muscovites loathe driving because of the daily traffic jams, and it now seems that the government has found a new solution to the problem: People with "sex disorders," including those who identify as transsexual or transgender, may no longer drive. "The decisions are aimed at reducing deaths from road traffic accidents," an official statement on the decree reads.

That makes no sense. Is there evidence that this particular subgroup contributes inordinately to traffic accidents? They certainly aren’t common enough that removing them from the road will make a dent in their traffic problems. So I have a better idea.

Prohibit cis-gendered heterosexual men from driving. Traffic will immediately be cut at least in half, and I suspect a lot of the more aggressive drivers will be selectively culled. If they’re really interested in reducing traffic deaths, that would be the best thing to do.

Another possibility, from what I’ve heard about Russia, is to take away driving licenses for incidents of public drunkenness. That should clear the roads.

While we’re making arbitrary laws to lash out pointlessly at people, can we have an American law that makes it illegal to drive a vehicle with a confederate flag on it? Those people, without fail, are annoying sphincters. (And yes, we have them here in Minnesota even.)


  1. K.R. Syncanna says

    Shit, we even have those confederate-flag-on-vehicle folks here in Massachusetts.

  2. mildlymagnificent says


    That is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read here.

    It makes no sense of any kind. It’s definitely discriminatory and it’s supposed to be nasty … I think … but a nastiness that also makes no sense. Going to the source makes it even weirder and less sensible if that’s possible.

    This class also includes fetishists, exhibitionists, and voyeurs, though the broad rule change doesn’t require that the kinksters have, say, an uncontrollable need for watching or undressing in their vehicles. In the case of transgender people, gamblers, and thieves, the differences in question have no potential link to driving ability whatsoever.

    Voyeurs? Gamblers? What shaped brain do you need to have for this list to even exist?

  3. says

    This is a prime example of why gay rights and transgender rights are closely linked: those who hate one group are almost guaranteed to hate the other group because they cannot tell the two groups apart. When we share a common enemy, it makes sense to make a common cause.

    Aside from which, this has as much to do with reducing deaths from road traffic accidents as mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds has to do with protecting the life of an unborn child.

  4. rq says

    I’m just… transgender people, fetishists, exhibitionists, voyeurs, gamblers, thieves, etc. … I’m missing a connection here.
    Also, are murderers free to drive?
    And ugh, who puts transgender people in the same category as criminals??? And fetishists, and exhibitionists, and voyeurs, together with thieves? And gamblers, where do they fit in? I was not aware that thieving and gambling were sexual disorders.
    Russia has a huge culture of toxic, alcoholic masculinity that should be taken care of, if they want to clean up the roads. Plus better roads.

  5. gussnarp says

    Yup, statistically speaking, the people who ought to be prevented from driving if we’re going to ban a sweeping class of humans from what has become our essential transportation mode, is men. Not entirely sure if straight or cis matters. Cis probably. The other factor would be age. If we really think we need extremely restrictive limits to improve road safety, no one under 30 or over 65 should be allowed to drive. Those are totally arbitrary numbers, of course.

    Actually, I do sometimes wonder why we still let 16 year olds drive in this country. I’m pretty sure men shouldn’t be allowed to drive until they’re at least 21, though I know that’s impractical. I guess you really can’t go around telling people who have jobs they can’t drive to them. It would be easier in a city with decent public transit. I await the day that our robot overlords at Google fix this problem for us altogether. I really hope to not have to worry about my kids driving someday, as their car will do it for them.

  6. says

    When you’ve got a body in the trunk, murderers learn to drive very carefully and avoid calling attention to themselves, so of course murderers aren’t included.

  7. azhael says

    This is clearly because they think these people have unstable minds which make them more likely to cause accidents because you know, they are shifty and untrustworthy, not pure, wholesome people like the fucking bigoted fuckstains that made this absolutely fucking ridiculous, morally repugnant law.
    Fuck them, fuck Putin and everybody who shares his fucking disgusting ideology. Fuck the fucking bigots, russian or otherwise!

    PS: i think you are overestimating the amount of cis-gendered heterosexuals in any given population, PZ…

  8. feministhomemaker says

    This comment is for the website manager: Twice now when I open up the latest blog post a back page opens as well and a male voice says “are you a boy or a girl?” The back page is labeled “Play Now-League of Angels-Play Game Free”

    I know you were seeking help to stop the most egregious popup spam at your site and it worked to stop the ones that were forcing me to use “force quit” to exit my browser. Now that never happens. But this disembodied voice associated with the back page has started and it is very loud and scary and startling. Can you get rid of it, too?

    Thanks, and sorry to intrude off-topic on this thread but I could not see where else to post this notice. Thanks.

  9. David Wilford says

    rq @ 8:

    From the wiki link I posted:

    Political abuse of psychiatry is the misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, detention and treatment for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain groups and individuals in a society.[15]

    The claim being made is that people with so-called “sex disorders” are not safe drivers, which is of course absolute bullshit. But it follows a historical pattern where in the former Soviet Union people’s rights were curtailed via what’s called “punative psychiatry” to serve a politcal end. Putin was in the KGB so this is something I’m sure he’s o.k. with as part of making up scapegoats to help keep a hold on his power.

  10. Bernard Bumner says

    Putin is a great Soviet tyrant. I’m not sure why he even pretends to be a modern politician.

  11. jacksprocket says

    Two players influencing this: Putin (self evidently repressed gay) and the ever- lovely Russian Orthodox Church, never known knowingly to miss an opportunity for repression. Really, Stalin was too good for them.

  12. busterggi says

    I expect this was done to strengthen the ties between the EOC and the Putinistas. You’ll be hearing praise from America’s right-wingnuts later today about Putin being a true Christain.

  13. David Wilford says

    jacksprocket @ 16:

    Really, Stalin was too good for them.

    The Ukrainians, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Finns, Tartars, Jews, Poles, etc., etc., etc. would like to have a word with you.

  14. komarov says

    I’d also say this list is Christian-inspired. For the politicians this is an opportunity to cosy up with the orthodox church (“remember how we made that lovely idea you had into law?”) and the list itself (see #2 or article) screams self-righteous Bible-maniac.

  15. Onamission5 says

    @jacksprocket #16:
    evidently repressed gay
    Uuuugh. Can we not with the whole “person fits a stereotype of what I think gay people are like plus they hate gay people MUST BE GAY hur hur” horseshit. The vast majority of hatred and violence toward LGBT people does not, in fact, come from within. It’s statistically impossible for one thing.

    Your comment, and others like it, are a deflection of responsibility away from cisgendered, straight bigots and back onto LGBT people. It is essentially saying that where LGBT oppression exists, it must be our own fault, it lays the blame for oppression at the feet of LGBT people who have been taught to hate themselves by the dominant culture rather than at the feet of the dominant culture which is overwhelmingly skewed toward straight, cis gender privilege. Please for the love of Maude can we stop doing this forever and a day thank you.

  16. AlexanderZ says

    David Wilford has it right – in Russia any deviation from a politically sanctioned norm is labelled a psychological disorder or a”nti-social behavior”. It was true in Soviet times and it’s still true.

    One interesting note is that these new road laws are a way for the government to cover its ass directly. Yes, people are protesting traffic jams in Moscow, but what they are really angry about is that many of those jams are caused by reckless driving of people with government flashing lights. These “flashers” or “blinkers” as people call them are handed out for bribes, as a nepotistic payment, etc.

  17. gakxz1 says

    There’s nothing arbitrary about this. The reasoning probably went something like, “Hmm, how can we continue to oppress those sexual deviants? I mean, we’re oppressing them plenty as it is, but it’s Tuesday, and I still hate them!”. Then some schmuck randomly suggests driving restrictions. “Sounds good! Add a bit more bullshit to that; I’ll sign the papers, and we can proceed to take the mandatory vodka shots required to make it into a law”.

  18. chigau (違 ,う) says

    At the very top of the page is a link called ‘Tech Issues’.
    That might work to get attention to the problem.

  19. Saad says

    Ah, the classic technique of acting like you have a nice goal in mind (making the roads safer) but the catch being that some downtrodden people will need to be stepped on some more in order to achieve it. Nothing new here. This is the same shit as gay people causing hurricanes or women driving leading to infertility.

  20. twas brillig (stevem) says

    In Russia, dashcam videos clearly show Russians face enormous risks driving those little metal boxes. Every other week meteors flash by in the distance, or tanks drive over other cars, or in the cities, random peds will throw themselves at the front of your traffic-jammed car, for insurance fraud. That last item is why the Russian insurance companies require the vehicle to be equipped with a dashcam. So Putin is backhandedly protecting the trans, by making it illegal for them to drive through that traffic chaos. /snark

  21. says

    feministhomemaker @13:
    At the top of the page, you’ll see a ‘Tech Issues’ link. That might be the best place leave a message about your problem.


    jacksprocket @16:

    Two players influencing this: Putin (self evidently repressed gay) and the ever- lovely Russian Orthodox Church, never known knowingly to miss an opportunity for repression. Really, Stalin was too good for them.

    Please don’t do this.
    I’m so sick of people claiming that homophobic shitstains are really just repressed homosexuals. Contrary to the beliefs some people hold, many bigots are bigots because…they hold irrational, biased, or prejudicial beliefs about a group of people. Not because they are secretly gay. A small handful of hate-filled people turned out to be gay, but that doesn’t mean that all homophobes are gay.
    Moreover, one of the effects of this is to push the responsibility for ending homophobia on gay people.

    In addition, there is no such thing as “self evidently gay” (repressed or otherwise).

    None of this is to say that there’s no such thing as a gay person repressing their sexuality (I did that for most of my teen years). It’s just to say that this reflexive “Homophobe X must secretly be gay” isn’t helpful.

  22. azhael says

    @20 Onamission5

    Thanks for that.
    In addition to that, the “self evidently repressed gay” bullshit uses “gay” as an accusation and means to insult and denigrate the target…which is fucking homophobic….

  23. David Marjanović says

    I’m immediately reminded of the 1930s, when the Jews of Germany were subjected to a long and ever-growing list of arbitrary, random restrictions much like this list just For Teh Evulz till finally they were forbidden to live.

    You know about the Putin Youth? Putin has tattooed “Godwin” in neon colors all over him.

    This comment is for the website manager

    Two words: Firefox, Adblock.

  24. azhael says

    Haven’t you heard? You can accurately recognize someone’s sexual orientation based on how they look, how they move and verbal affectations, how they dress, how they hate others like them and themselves, etc. It never, ever fails….
    Oh, and of course bisexuals may as well be unicorns…

  25. robro says

    Perhaps they should stop kleptocrats from driving. I gather there are quite a few in Russia.

    twas brillig — “In Russia, dashcam videos clearly show…” Keep in mind that these videos are a selective representation of driving practices, so they don’t “clearly show” anything. You haven’t seen the millions of hours of perfectly normal driving…although you can see some normal driving in the videos of the Chelyabinsk meteor. If you put dash cams on American cars (or French, British German…et cetera), I’m confident you could quickly collect a huge number of stupid, dangerous, and deadly activities.

  26. unclefrogy says

    this is just another example of distraction of the populous. Look at us we are doing something to fix things! while at the same time doing nothing much at all to really address any real issues that matter to the people in general.
    As it has developed post soviet era the politicians are primarily interested in acquiring and maintaining power and riches with little regard for the people or the functioning of the society or the economy unless it has any direct effect on their own power and wealth.
    What is misleading to outsiders is the lack of hereditary titles there are no counts, lords nor princes but it is reaching backward to old Tsarist Russia still.
    The Russian economy is not doing well with the western sanctions nor the oil glut so any bullshit to distract the populous is viewed as good enough to try.
    I doubt it will end well.
    uncle frogy

  27. feministhomemaker says

    Thank you both so much. I found the tech link and sent along the info. It may have already been fixed because the voice and back page did not come on this time! Sorry to intrude on this thread. Thanks for the lesson.

  28. says

    twas brillig @25:

    So Putin is backhandedly protecting the trans, by making it illegal for them to drive through that traffic chaos. /snark

    I’m hoping you accidentally left out a word bc “the trans” is not how you should refer to trans people.

  29. rodw says

    russia has decreed that transgender people are not allowed to drive. Why, you might wonder

    The rooskies probably assume they’ll drive badly AND refuse to ask for directions

  30. says

    Super, rodw, what this thread needed was an anti-trans joke. Perfect.

    As to why we get “lumped in” with the criminals, it’s because at this point being trans or queer is criminal in Russia. They let some of us go, as long as we’re quiet or pretty enough, but don’t let us forget that it’s very much at cis people’s pleasure that we get to breathe free air.

  31. rq says

    Really, Stalin was too good for them.

    Do you even know what Stalin did?

    I can’t really say much to that except fuck Russian laws, they’ve never been strong on logic but this one just seems to break all of them. I’m sorry, on behalf of sometimes-appropriated-as-Russians people everywhere. :(
    Can I offer *hugs* or do we have to take it to the Lounge?

  32. rq says

    Also, rodw, you’re just a sexist, transphobic asshole. And rooskies, seriously? Hurr, hurr, indeed. :P

  33. Richard Smith says

    When I read, “In Russia, dashcam videos…”, I half expected to read something like “watch you.” Ah well, silly memes. That was Soviet Russia. It’s so much better today!

  34. joe321 says

    This reminds me of the Simpsons episode where a bear wanders into Springfield. Mayor Quinby promises “swift and decisive” action and proposes to have all immigrants deported. Of course this is intended as a parody of how politicians target unpopular groups of people to a) deflect attention from their inaction on a particular problem and b) to score political points by attacking this group. I suspect Matt Groening is astounded at how accurate his episode was!

  35. otranreg says

    Okay, so I’ve looked into the decree, and I’m suspecting that people are connecting the dots on the basis of something else, but at no point it says ‘no trans people’ or ‘no sex disorders’ explicitly . Sure, it does include groups of psychiatric conditions based on ICD-10 –with the relevant chapters of the classification shown only as such, no specific conditions. It sure does include the ‘F60-F69 Disorders of adult personality and behaviour’ section, which does have ‘Gender identity disorders’ and ‘Disorders of sexual preference’. But it also does include a lot of other stuff.

    The criticism should be directed primarily at WHO that maintains transsexualism as a disorder, and not at Russia, which, while it is a cesspool of social conservatism, has simply produced a rather boring and sensible (80% of it describe the limitations for people with vision impairments and missing extremities) run-of-the mill document.

  36. toska says

    Does anyone know of any organization we can support that helps the trans communities in Russia? I know all orgs that support LGBT communities in any way are under attack from the bigoted laws, but do any still exist? I hope there is a way I can “put my money where my mouth is” on this one, but I don’t know of a way to do that right now.

  37. opposablethumbs says

    I’m sure you didn’t intend to be offensive, rodw, but as we all know intent is not magic; absolutely none of “women are all bad drivers, hur hur!” plus “real men never ask for directions, har har” plus, for the icing on the cake “trans people are a sort of hilarious mixed up mixture of realwoman and realman, ho ho” is actually funny. Or, you know, acceptable. And, yeah, I get that you were suggesting it was the Russian lawmakers and not you who espoused these offensive ideas, but unfortunately that still doesn’t make the joke funny or inoffensive because it still turns on the stereotypes you invoked.

    Eh, sledgehammer, nut – maybe, but harmful-stereotypes is not unrelated to what the thread is about.

  38. rq says

    If Russian policy-makers didn’t intend to target trans* people and other fetishists, voyeurs, exhibitionists, etc. (is there a better way to say this??), then why include those parts in the law at all? So while the WHO no doubt deserves flak for still having those designations, the biggest fault is that of Russian law-makers, who chose to put those categories into the law, and then chose to pass that law.
    The fact that 80% is sensible, reasonable stuff (because we all know people with no arms can’t drive cars at all, right??) doesn’t make that 20% okay – in fact, it is an insidious way of passing such terribly bigotous laws, because it can be argued on exactly what you just said: 80% of it is decent, what could possibly be so wrong with the remaining 20%?

  39. otranreg says

    @45, rq

    Those 20% are mostly reasonable, too – I have no idea how these things will be implemented, but most probably this’ll mean that those who want a driver’s licence will have to get checked up at a psychiatrist – which isn’t such a terrible idea, in my opinion.

    I am very sceptical that there was something Machiavellian done, and the text was put together as an insidious attempt at oppressing the ‘cuckoo perverts’ and maintaining clean hands at the same time. The wording there is practically the same as in the WHO document, and it’s more likely to be a case of ‘don’t give a crap’ aggravated by ‘oh, this here section includes transsexuals et cetera, neato!’ I.e. not having too much interest in the details to begin with, and not wanting to change these details because of the conservative/bigoted background (‘hey, even the WHO says they’re diseased’).

  40. rq says


    not having too much interest in the details to begin with, and not wanting to change these details because of the conservative/bigoted background

    And it is exactly this attitude that contributes to the active persecution and discrimination of marginalized non-traditionally-oriented groups in Russia. Because they’re too conservative to care, and they’re conservative enough to actually pass laws against them. I don’t care what wording they used – let the WHO sue for plagiarism – they passed a horrible, discriminatory law.
    Machiavellian or not, it’s not like they care enough about trans* people (for example) to actually bother not putting those sections in the law. In the end it will be trans* people, and the fetishists, and the voyeurs, and the exhibitionists, who will end up paying for it. Because once the bigotry is state-sanctioned, it’s legal to discriminate. And this is the problem.
    The fact that you’re so willing to accept casually legalized discrimination against groups already suffering under the Russian government – that says loads about you as a person.

  41. rq says

    (I bet the only ones who will need to go to the psychiatrist will be the slightly weird ones, the ones that don’t quite fit the social mold – not your hard-drinking, cis-het manly-man who can do 120 in the 50 zone and pull donuts in 30 cm of snow and ice in the middle of rush-hour traffic, no, not him, see, he’s man enough already, no need to prove anything! Oh, and anyone who can pay their way out will be excused. Maybe not on paper, but in practice.)

  42. rq says

    Anyway, the point is it’s a terrible, non-sensical law that will end up targetting already marginalized people instead of those actually causing trouble in traffic on the roads. Saying they don’t care enough to do better doesn’t make the law any better.

  43. twas brillig (stevem) says

    robro wrote:

    [I wrote:] “In Russia, dashcam videos clearly show…”
    Keep in mind that these videos are a selective representation of driving practices, so they don’t “clearly show” anything.

    Yes, indeed, hence I tried to indicate that with the “/snark” tag.

    Tony! The Queer Shoop wrote:

    I’m hoping you [twas brillig] accidentally left out a word bc “the trans” is not how you should refer to trans people.

    I apologize, sincerely. I honestly tried to use the proper ‘term’. Please tell me the proper term to use (trans people?). Sorry.

  44. iankoro says

    Hell, I’ve even seen those confederate flag stickers in *Canada*. I even asked a guy wearing a confederate flag ball cap why he was wearing it, and I just got a blank stare in response. I’m not sure that a lot of the people with them even really understand what it is they’re expressing.

  45. David Marjanović says

    Judging from the source text, comment 41 was meant to look like this:

    (And yes, we have them here in Minnesota even.)

    Shit, we even have those confederate-flag-on-vehicle folks here in Massachusetts.

    We have a lot of those people in Sweden!

    The quoted text does not go into the cite="" attribute. It goes between the opening <blockquote> tag and the closing </blockquote> tag. The cite="" attribute is allowed, meaning that the software here doesn’t delete it before posting, but it doesn’t do anything.

    Incidentally, here in Berlin I’ve seen a black man wearing a T-shirt with the confederate flag on it. People really seem to think it’s some symbol of America and the Wild West and freedom and adventure and Marlboro.

  46. says

    Although in all probability it’s just more homophobic spite; is there a chance that in Russia, they handle their neuropsychology differently and descriptions of “not recognising your own body” will earn a diagnosis of motor or sensory processing disorder, rather than what you’re getting at? Because that does make sense. Sorry.

  47. AlexanderZ says

    Amy Cocks #54
    No. It’s just as transphobic and xenophobic as it all sounds. Russia is plain evil.

  48. frankensteinmonster says

    fascism is as fascism does. wonder how far are we from marking them with pink triangles and forced “treatment” in communal “showers”

  49. Rachel: astronomy nerd and estrogen addict says

    46 otranreg:

    Those 20% are mostly reasonable, too – I have no idea how these things will be implemented, but most probably this’ll mean that those who want a driver’s licence will have to get checked up at a psychiatrist – which isn’t such a terrible idea, in my opinion.

    Sure, but what the hell does being trans have to do with the ability to drive? What does one’s sexual preference have to do with the ability to drive? Nothing at all. If this law truly were about having drivers be mentally fit to drive, then it wouldn’t have banned certain groups from driving who’s membership of said groups has nothing to do with driving ability.

  50. Grewgills says

    @ otranreg 46
    I might be inclined to agree if it weren’t for the pattern of other laws specifically designed to target LGBT people. Perhaps it wasn’t the initial intent, but it was certainly seen as a bonus by the bigots in charge.
    That and as Alaric mentioned, Putin is now desperate to distract from the economy his terrible decision making is causing to tank. Russia could have weathered either the falling energy prices or the sanctions, the combination of the two are a real hammer blow. I hope, but doubt that the damage his decisions have caused the Russian economy will be enough to have the oligarchs toss him out. Then again, the next strong man that rises to the top there will likely be about as bad.

  51. Ivan says

    To be honest, this is a case of stupidity rather than homo- or trans-phobia. People having any of a rather broad category of “neural disorders” were prohibited from getting driver’s license. While some of them, like suicidal intent, might make sense, others like kleptomania, voyeurism and crossdressing (why is it even a disorder?) certainly don’t. Unfortunately, the trend in our lawmaking seems to be “prohibit everything to be safe”.

  52. Saad says

    Ivan, #59

    To be honest, this is a case of stupidity rather than homo- or trans-phobia.

    Russia not homophobic? Totally LOLing.