A world-class Russian powerlifting champion was stopped from boarding a domestic flight when an airline told her she had to first prove she was a woman, according to a report.
Six-time world champion Anna Turaeva, 42, described her “horror” when the Utair staffers asked her intimate questions about her sexual preferences in front of other passengers in St. Petersburg before the flight to Krasnodar via Moscow, East2West News reported.
“At the checkpoint, they refused to let me pass through saying that it was written in my passport that I am a woman,” Turaeva wrote on Instagram, where the bald, chiselled and tattooed woman is seen in various poses, including topless ones.
“It was humiliating. I was reprimanded like a child in front of people in the queue. They wanted to know which role I play in life and between the sheets.”
“The whole queue was watching this anarchy, and I felt as helpless as possible in this situation. I was trying to prove that I am indeed a woman,” added Turaeva, who came out as gay years ago, according to the report.
Despite the harassment, the powerlifter said she kept her cool and “did not allow myself the slightest rudeness” as she quietly tried to explain to the employees that they were wrong to ask her to prove she was a female.
“Then a miracle happened — I was allowed to board the plane,” Turaeva said, without explaining how she finally convinced them.
“I have worked all my youth … with my blood and sweat for my country, not to be treated this way.”
Utair has apologised to the woman, saying: “Such service is unacceptable. We will definitely check the actions of the airport employees who worked on your flight, and we will sort out the situation.”
As a child, Turaeva was “sickly” and even exempted from gym class until she was 15.
She said her dad “worked at a machine plant. He made iron — dumbbells, barbells and everything else — for my friends and me”.
“My mum always supported me, even when I didn’t look like all the other girls,” Turaeva added. “It was a miracle for her that I stayed alive at all, as from the age of six to 15 I saw nothing but hospitals.”
And now, as a world-class athlete, she said she enjoys who — and how — she is.
“I see myself this way and I am not going to change and look different,” she said.
— New York Post