Genderqueer dancer Dasha moved back to Russia after growing up in the US and adopting they/them pronouns.
Returning to Russia, Dasha found themself struggling to express their gender in the country’s heavily gendered language.
“I feel like my gender is really complex and it’s also very fluid.
“It’s quite easy to be genderqueer in English just because the language is not gendered.
“I could go for days without really identifying or having to identify myself as he or she.”
California had not only been a more open place for genderqueer people, Dasha found, but the language also allowed them to use their preferred pronouns.
Daha told PinkNews: “I was part of the activists and artists community [in California].
“I had enough space to be myself without naming myself, so I think my real coming out only happened when I came back to Russia and became part of the trans community.”
Trans, genderqueer and non-binary spaces in Russia
In Russia, Dasha runs Telaboratoria, a workshop for LGBT+ people to reconnect with their bodies and the environment around them.
“The name itself comes from two Russian words,” Dasha explained. “‘Telo’ meaning body and ‘laboratoria’ meaning laboratory.
“There are no spaces for trans people to express themselves physically.”
—Genderqueer dancer and activist, Dasha
“How does it feel to feel safe in your body? How does it feel to be relaxed or to feel happy? We try to work with these concepts and try to embody them, stay with them and dance with them.”
The idea started out during a chat with a trans friend and prominent activist in St Petersburg, Jonny Dzhibladze, who wanted to take part in regular dance and theatre classes in Russia but couldn’t find spaces for gender-non-conforming people.
“[The goal was to] find a place for being in a body, a safe comfortable space that is just not available for trans folks.
“It was something new, it was something that just doesn’t happen here, there are no spaces for trans people to express themselves physically.”