A world-renowned female powerlifer has received an apology from a Russian airline after they refused to let her board a flight without proving she was a woman.
Anna Turaeva, 42, has told of the ‘horror’ she faced when she was subjected to intimate questions in front of other passengers on a scheduled flight.
The sportswoman has a string of records and medals representing her country.
She said she was initially barred from flying with Russian airline Utair from St Petersburg to her home city Krasnodar via Moscow, because the security staff believed her to be a man.
‘At the checkpoint they refused to let me pass through saying that it was written in my passport that I am a woman,’ she posted.
‘It was humiliating. ‘I was reprimanded like a child in front of people in the queue.
‘[I was asked] intimate questions. [They were] interested in who I am in my life – and in bed,’ she recalled.
Anna told how she kept her cool and ‘did not allow myself the slightest rudeness’.
She said: ‘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.
Anna – who came out as lesbian years ago – said she quietly tried to explain to the airline representative that they were wrong to ask her to prove she was a woman.
‘I did everything that depends on me for them to believe in my nature,’ she said, not explaining how the matter was finally resolved.
‘Then a miracle happened, I was allowed to board the plane.’
But she later hit out at the airline telling them: ‘I have worked all my youth – with my blood and sweat for my country, not to be treated this way.’
Utair rapidly said they were sorry, telling her: ‘We apologise for the negative emotions you experienced. 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.’
Anna – now a powerlifting coach – was an absolute six times world champion in bench press, and holds multiple trophies for powerlifting.
Amazingly, she was a ‘sickly child’ and was exempted from PE lessons until the age of 15.
‘My father was a turner, he worked at a machine plant. He made iron – dumbbells, barbells and everything else – for my friends and me,’ she said.
‘My mum always supported me, even when I didn’t look like all the other girls.
‘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.
‘She was always in favour of me living, moving forward, setting some goals.’
She has said: ‘I see myself this way and I am not going to change and look different.
‘I really love shops, hairdressing salons, manicure, and cosmetic procedures.’
She has said: ‘I see myself that way. I’m not going to prove anything to anyone. It’s just my style, my lifestyle… I am so comfortable.’