Anna Turaeva, a champion powerlifter from Russia, recently shared a shocking story of how she was stopped by airport security and asked private questions to prove that she really was a woman.

42-year-old Turaeva, a six-time world powerlifting champion and eight-time European powerlifting champion, described the experience of being prevented from boarding a plane from St Petersburg to her home city of Krasnodar as humiliating.

The Russian athlete said that security staff believed she was actually a man posing as a woman and asked her all sorts of private and intimate question in order to establish her gender.

Anna Turaeva’s appearance has indeed become very masculine after years of bodybuilding and powerlifting training, but she considers herself 100% female and tried explaining to the airline representative that they were wrong to ask her to prove her gender, especially since it was clearly stated on her passport.

“At the checkpoint they refused to let me pass through saying that it was written in my passport that I am a woman,” Anna Turaeva 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. The whole queue was watching this anarchy, and I felt as helpless as possible in this situation.”

Anna said that she quietly and politely tried to explain that she was indeed a woman, and that after a lot of back and forth, she was finally allowed to board the airplane. However, the powerlifter later hit back at the airline, Utair, posting on her social media that the way she was treated was wrong.

“I have worked all my youth – with my blood and sweat for my country, not to be treated this way,” the athlete wrote.

Utair was quick to issue a public apology to Turaeva, admitting that “such service is unacceptable”, but the PR damage had already been done.

Anna Turaeva’s masculine appearance had long attracted people’s attention, especially as photos of her wearing manly clothes started spreading on the internet, but she probably hadn’t faced this kind of public humiliation before.

Apparently, Turaeva’s looks are attributed to her athletic training. As a child, she looked perfectly normal for her age, but she was a sickly girl, spending most of her time between the ages of 6 and 15 in various hospitals.

И коня остановит, и в горящую избу войдёт. Тяжелоатлетка, чемпионка мира и Европы Анна Тураева.Спортивные девушки – великолепны. А чего добилось ты, млекопитающее?

Posted by Sergey Drozdov on Thursday, 1 October 2020

It was these hardships that shaped her character, making her more resilient and ambitious.

Despite skipping physical education classes for most of her school years, because of her fragile health, Anna became interested in martial arts as soon as her condition improved. She trained in Sambo and then Taekwondo, and after two and a half years of martial arts, she discovered her first true passion, bodybuilding. She worked hard, making quick progress, and at the age of 18 she entered her first competition.

Unfortunately, in 2006, Turaeva suffered a terrible spine injury that left her unable to move for three months.

Posted by Віктор Барвінок on Wednesday, 30 September 2020

She couldn’t train properly for bodybuilding, and could only lift weights when lying on the bench. That was how she discovered her biggest passion, the one that would bring her the most satisfaction, powerlifting.

After thousands of hours of strenuous efforts in the gym, sometimes training for up to 12 hours a day, Anna Turaeva reached the top in women’s powerlifting. She became world champion six times and European champion eight times. However, all the intense training took a toll on her body.

Posted by LeRa on Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Not only did Anna’s bulging muscles rival those of male athletes, but her facial features became more masculine as well, and on top of that she started going bald, which made her cut her hair very short and emphasize her masculine appearance even more.

At one point she started adopting a man’s style in the way she dressed as well, because it made her feel more comfortable. However, she claims that she has always felt like a woman.

“I really love shops, hairdressing salons, manicure, and cosmetic procedures,” Anna 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.”