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Russian Trans Woman Murdered

June 27, 2009

KamillaWomen and girls throughout the world are vulnerable to domestic violence, and those who are also transgender are at even greater risk. The latest heartbreaking case is that of a Russian woman named Kamilla who was murdered when her boyfriend discovered that she was trans.

Kamilla had been living with the man, Victor, with whom she had a relationship for two years. When he asked her to marry him and she said no, he suspected that she might be involved with another man. Rather than believing the woman he supposedly loved when she said she wasn’t ready for marriage, he searched through her mail. He discovered letters addressed to her by her former name and learned also that she had had sex reassignment surgery in Australia.

That was when he decided to kill her.

After murdering Kamilla, he slit his own wrists, leaving a note in which he claimed that he couldn’t stand the betrayal. Cara of the Curvature writes:

That’s right.  Vladimir saw Kamilla being the person she was as a “betrayal” to him.  And because the lives of trans individuals, and of just all women period, are seen as so expendable, he decided that the perceived “betrayal” was enough reason to take her life.

In other words, he saw his own cis gender identity as so much more valid than Kamilla’s gender identity that he decided she didn’t have the right to live. Instead of accepting her as the woman that she was, had always been, and had always presented herself as to him, or in fact instead of just walking away from the relationship, he decided to shoot her.  When he learned that she was trans instead of cis, he didn’t only fail to continue seeing her as a woman.  He failed to continue seeing her as human.  And then in a supposed “last act,” he tried to pin his own actions on her.

I would add that because of transphobic attitudes, he no doubt saw his sexuality and manhood as challenged by his having been involved with someone who had been born with a male body. Instead of facing up to his insecurities, he attacked Kamilla in order to reassert his identity. When that didn’t satisfy him, he slit his wrists and tried to frame himself as the victim.

He survived and will be tried for murder.

Renee of Womanist Musings writes:

There will be those that feel that Kamilla is in part responsible for her death because she did not publicly declare her trans status however it is my position that what she did was not dishonest.  Trans women are women from birth; they simply have the misfortune of being born in the wrong body.  When she shared her life with Vladimir it was as a woman and it is my hope that she will be remembered as such.

I share that hope, along with the hope for the day when no more such posts will need to be written, the day when everyone’s fundamental right to live as the person they are is respected whatever the story of their body and identity may be.

ETA: This story has now made The Daily Mail where, as Lisa Harney points out, many of the reader comments are highly problematic.

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