Hidden Lives

Uncovering Gender Non-conformity in the Russian Press, 1911–1914

In: Canadian-American Slavic Studies
Felix Cowan University of Illinois USA Urbana-Champaign, IL

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This article analyzes gender non-conformity in late imperial Russia through a selection of newspaper articles on the lives of gender non-conforming individuals. It examines the potential motives for gender non-conformity and argues for including gender dysphoria as a reason why Russians chose to perform a gender that did not correspond to their assigned sex. The article explores these individuals’ lives as well as their interaction with authority figures, the justice system, and Russian journalists and newspaper readers, to assess how late imperial Russians experienced and reacted to instances of public gender non-conformity. Finally, the article argues that gender non-conformity was a matter of great interest for the late imperial public but was treated leniently by figures in positions of power, from journalists who chose not to expose gender non-conforming Russian to judges who chose not to punish them for their defiance of gendered norms.

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