Blog / 2024 / Translated into Russian

April 8, 2024

In 2013, my feminist science picture book, Crime Against Nature, was translated into Chinese, and, as of 2019, it’s available in Italian as well.

Crime Against Nature book in Russian
Crime Against Nature in Russian

This year—not six months after Russia’s Supreme Court banned a made-up entity it called the “international public LGBT movement”—the book is available as a free download in Russian, translated by someone who found my work on the Internet.

In the past few months, under the new anti-LGBTQIA law, the Kremlin has charged several people with misdemeanors for things like wearing rainbow earrings or posting rainbow flags on Instagram. And at the end of March, Russia issued its first criminal indictments. The owner of a gay bar and two employees have been arrested and face up to ten years in prison. Charges include hiring drag performers.

queer sparrow painting by bird artist Gwenn Seemel
(See the making of this painting here.)

У животных может быть четыре разных пола.

Белогорлые воробьи обладают двумя разными видами окраски: c белой полосой на макушке и c коричневой полосой на макушке. Существуют самки c белой полосой на макушке, и самцы c белой полосой, a также самки c коричневой полосой, и самцы c коричневой полосой на макушке. Белополосые птицы обоих полов склонны быть более агрессивными и территориальными, чем птицы обоих полов c коричневой полосой. Особи c белой полосой на макушке формируют наиболее успешные брачные пары, но только c птицами c коричневой полосой.

Given the state of things both in Russia and in the US—where, so far, lawmakers may not have been able to go quite as far as Putin, but where they’re still fighting the bad fight of criminializing being human—I thought it would be an excellent time to remind you that, among many species of animals, there are more than two genders.

In the example above, shown with my Russian friend’s translation, it’s the white-throated sparrow with four genders:

  1. female with a white stripe over the eye
  2. male with a white stripe over the eye
  3. female with a tan stripe over the eye
  4. male with a tan stripe over the eye

Each of these genders fulfills an important role in the world of sparrows, and they all mate successfully, which, in evolution-speak, means that they are each vital to the continuation of white-throated sparrows. White-striped birds of either sex are more aggressive, and pairings of white- and tan-striped bird are most successful, regardless of the sex of the animals.

In Crime Against Nature, Coho salmon and elk are the other two examples of species that are beyond the binary, and these are just a few* of the animals whose genders exceed the two measly ones that small-minded humans like to promote.

I want to live in a world where our scientists’ exploration of gender in the other animals isn’t limited by the deficient imagination of despots. I want to live in a world where it’s perfectly natural for all of us—humans and otherwise—to think outside of the binary.

sparrow painting by wildlife artist Gwenn Seemel
detail image of Mr. and Mrs. Right, Mr. and Mrs. Also-right (White-throated Sparrow)

This painting already has a forever home, but you can order prints and other arty items from Redbubble!

* There’s such a beautiful array of genders in nonhuman animals, but, if you’re looking for examples, you need to know that some scientists feel like the word “gender” is too human. Instead, search terms like these:

  • alternative reproductive strategies
  • sneaker male biology
  • inter-sexual mimicry
  • sex-limited morph

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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