Adrian Michael Drutin is an American dancer and writer. The son of famous ballet dancer Nikolai Drutin, his talents and accomplishments as a dancer in his own right were overshadowed by the legacy of his father and by the controversies of his personal life.
From age eighteen to twenty four, he identified as a transgender woman, which placed him in a position of both exultation and ridicule. When he chose to detransition after six years, once again identifying as male, he was abandoned by those who had championed him. After spending another two years fighting to retain his position, he quietly sank into obscurity, devoting his time to ballet production and choreography rather than seeking stardom.
Appearance and Personality
At only 5 feet 5 inches, he is short with the lean, flexible build of a dancer. He looks very similar to his father, with a square face, prominent brow, narrow-set blue eyes, a sharp nose, and thin lips. From his mother he inherited his dark wavy hair. He has a dimple in his right cheek that only shows when he smiles.
Much of his personality is dominated by his insecurities. He is painfully aware of the way he is perceived by others, both in terms of his physical appearance and his behaviors. Since childhood he has suffered from a severe speech impediment; over the years his pronunciation has improved, but he is often unwilling to speak up for fear of being misunderstood or mocked.
His relationship with his parents had a significant impact on the way he views the world, whether he's willing to admit it or not. He feared and loathed his father personally, even hating him for his philandering, his aggression, and for his inability to give Adrian the love and affection he so desperately needed. But he adored and idolized Kolya professionally, aspiring to be like him in talents and accomplishments. In sharp contrast was his mother, who was very loving, generous, kind and loyal, but also much too protective of her only child. Her attempts to shelter Adrian from the horrors of the ballet world by forbidding him to dance threatened to crush his tender dreams, and he learned early on that he would have to defy her in order to accomplish what he desired.
This poisonous mixture resulted in an acute case of misandry. To say that Adrian hates masculinity because he hated his father is perhaps an oversimplification, but he has spent much of his life attempting to distance himself from his father's private and public personas. Kolya fit many of the stereotypes of hyper-masculinity - he was a womanizer, domineering, loud, boisterous, blunt, even violent. Take all of these traits away completely and you're left with little more than effeminacy.
This attitude is incompatible not only with reality, but with Adrian's own nature, though not even he guesses it. It should come as no surprise, however, that in adolescence Adrian was diagnosed and treated for a variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and body/gender dysphoria. He rarely makes eye contact with strangers, tends to be a wallflower, and while he will pay attention during a conversation, he won't actively participate in it. Under the right circumstances, if he can be made comfortable he will open up more, but it is a gradual thing requiring time, patience, and consistency before he will begin to trust another person.
In spite of his introverted nature, he is intelligent, articulate, and has a bleak, occasionally biting sense of humor which some may find off-putting. He empathizes easily with people who share his social awkwardness and feelings of inadequacy, and finds those who are willing to laugh at his weird and/or offensive jokes most amiable.
When it comes to a topic he is passionate about, or if he is put in a position where he can teach others, he will speak at length and with zeal. His genuine enthusiasm and confidence in what he knows makes up for his lack of charisma. Despite his timid nature, he chafes under imposed authority and has his father's same freedom-loving spirit. This is manifested when he dances. On the stage, he doesn't have to whisper what he feels.
Nikolai "Kolya" Drutin was a Soviet-born Russian dancer. Originally from Vladivostok, he moved to Leningrad in order to study ballet at the Kirov. He defected to the United States in the late 80s, at a time when the "defector dancer" craze was running out of steam.
Angela Esther Spinner was the daughter of a rich corporate lawyer; she herself went to law school and was employed under her father, but disliked her job.
The two met while working together on a legal dispute having something to do with Kolya's contract with ABT. Despite a seventeen year age difference between them, they married in 1996 and went on to have one child together, Mikhail Nikolai Drutin, born 29 August 1999.
The family lived in a house on "Monticello Avenue" in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was a quiet suburban home in a respectable, upper middle class neighborhood. Kolya, having retired from ABT, taught dance at an academy in Washington D.C. He called his son "Misha". Angela meanwhile was a stay at home mom who spent most of Misha's childhood working on their house and in the garden.
While he was close to his mother, Misha had a poor relationship with his father. His father was rarely home, and when he was, his behavior bordered on abusive. He was loud, aggressive, and critical of his son, rarely showing him affection. He was also a philanderer who carried on numerous affairs behind his wife's back. Misha eventually became aware of his father's infidelities but was cowed into silence by Kolya's threats.
Due to their distant relationship, Misha did not discover his father had defected from the Soviet Union until he began his ballet training at age eleven. Kolya avoided discussing his past and never spoke Russian at home, though he did have an accent. He was culturally "Westernized" with a love for American music and movies, and he had no attachment whatsoever to his homeland or relatives, none of whom Misha ever met. The boy did however write letters to his grandparents, though he never sent them as he didn't know their address.
Always an extremely shy child, Misha preferred to stay indoors and read rather than play outside with other children. He had difficulty making friends because of his prominent lisp and lack of social skills. His mother rushed to his defense whenever he was bullied, which did little to help his popularity with his peers.
Beginning of Training
From a young age, Misha had a love for dance, although he did not begin any formal, serious training until he was eleven. This was because his mother, believing ballet was too harsh and unforgiving for a sensitive child like him, forbade him from taking classes. He attempted to defy her by watching videos and imitating what he saw on the screen. His father took notice of this and insisted Misha enroll at the dance academy where he worked. This conveniently placed Misha in classes taught by his father, who pushed him harder than his other students.
At some point, Misha complained about his father singling him out to a friend and was told that it was because his father was jealous of him, either because Kolya was old and could no longer dance professionally or because Misha was a better dancer than he ever was.
Death of Father
In 2013, Kolya was diagnosed with cancer. He was given a few months to live, but lasted until October 2014. Attempts at treating the cancer ravaged his body, and for the last few months of his life he was confined to a wheelchair. The dramatic deterioration of his father's physical health and appearance had a profound effect on Misha, who alternately relished Kolya's suffering and still desperately sought his father's love.
As Misha entered puberty and became increasingly involved in ballet, his self-esteem plummeted to the point where he was constantly missing school due to his fear of being seen in public. He saw himself as hideous, "weird-looking" and grotesque. He began covering the bathroom mirror with a towel whenever he would take a shower so as to avoid looking at himself naked. Upon analysis by a psychiatrist, he was initially prescribed antidepressants, but disliked how they made him feel and soon stopped taking his medication. His hatred of himself resulted in fantasies of becoming someone else who was the polar opposite of his father.
Concerned for his well-being, Angela sent him to a psychologist, Dr. Rollins. At their very first meeting, Rollins suggested that he might be suffering from gender dysphoria, based on his dislike of being compared to his father, his disgust with his appearance and masculinity, and his early childhood habits of reading fiction, playing with girls rather than boys, dancing, and general lack of typical male behavior. By his fourth visit, he had agreed to begin identifying as transgender. His concerns that his career in ballet would be affected by his decision were quickly alleviated as the ballet world enthusiastically embraced the idea of him being the first ever transgender dancer.
He changed his name to "Adrian" and began hormone replacement therapy after he graduated from Northwood High School in 2017.
After high school, Adrian joined ABT (American Ballet Company) and moved to New York City. Due to their respect for her late father, the director and much of the staff accommodated her, allowing her to perform in female roles, rehearse with other female dancers, and made the studio's bathrooms and other facilities gender-neutral. Very few, if any, instances of dissent or discrimination occurred among her peers.
While she was assured by others that she was talented, she never believed she was a particularly good dancer, lacking the "spark" and raw talent her heroes had possessed in spades. She was drawn to the technical and creative aspects of dance rather than fame or fortune. In particular, she was often frustrated by the indifference of fellow dancers toward elements of ballet such as story, theme, and characterization, which she valued highly.
It soon became apparent to her that she was an attraction, a novelty which attracted crowds, and because of this it was unlikely she would ever be allowed to simply work behind the scenes. She was being placed front and center for all the world to see as a kind of heroic symbol or virtue signal; she had not achieved acclaim on her own merits. Having feared she would be regulated to being "Kolya's son", she instead found herself labeled "the first transgender dancer" and nothing more.
A Change of Heart
In 2023, a journalist from an online media website, Anna O'Hara, arranged to conduct an interview with Adrian. Initially leery, Adrian gradually warmed to Anna as she made her feel comfortable with speaking her mind. The two stayed in touch and became friends and confidantes. Adrian developed romantic feelings for Anna despite knowing she was not attracted to transgender women.
Adrian secretly booked an appointment with a different psychologist, Dr. Margo Faroh, and told her she was concerned she had been misdiagnosed. Dr. Faroh suggested she might actually be suffering from multiple personality disorder, but the diagnosis didn't totally add up (no amnesia, which is one of the major hallmarks of the disorder). Adrian made yet another appointment with a third psychologist, and was there told she had body dysphoria, a much broader illness in which the sufferer has unrealistic standards for their physical appearance. The treatments for each diagnosis conflicted with the others.
Her inner turmoil reached a boiling point when she suffered an emotional breakdown. Throwing away all feminine clothing and accessories, he cut his hair short and attempted to run away. Chickening out, he instead drove to the ballet studio, where he was recognized and was taken to the hospital.
Upon learning he was in the psych ward, his mother came to take him home. She pressured him into seeing yet another psychologist, but he refused to speak to them, insisting he had made up his mind. Not wanting to associate with either his childhood identity nor his transgender one, he began calling himself "Michael".
The Long Night
No longer taking hormones and with his chest bound until he could afford a mastectomy, Michael resumed dancing as soon as possible. The ballet company once again accommodated him, moving him into mens' rehearsals and allowing him to audition for male roles. However, the attitude of the staff and fellow dancers toward him had changed, with many growing cold and distant or simply becoming awkward and uncomfortable around him. Several of the students and patrons who had once admired him began to resent him, seeing his decision as a betrayal or accusing him of "selling out". His dramatic transformation made the news and he was flooded with requests for interviews, few of which he obliged. He also received unwanted attention from organizations who wanted to use his story to further their own agendas.
To combat his growing depression, Michael threw himself into his work. He lost a significant amount of weight and began to take on a more masculine appearance. His hard work paid off and he was able to retain his position as a star dancer in the company - only to request he be regulated to smaller and smaller roles. Disenchanted with performing, he retreated from the stage in favor of teaching and choreography. He created his own ballet, Maestro, which achieved some success, but a second composition, Persephone, was less successful.
Following a failed suicide attempt, he was put on leave and sent to rehab. He never performed publicly again, but did become a dance teacher and continued to work as a choreographer. Eventually he published his autobiography, Dysmorphous.
During the tumultuous two year period of his obsessive dedication to dance, he began a romance with Anna, who already had a young daughter from a previous relationship, Selene. Their relationship both inspired him and fueled his spiral into self-destruction. He sought to alter his appearance to make himself more attractive to her, a motivation she vehemently discouraged. It was she who discovered him in the bathroom. having swallowed a bottle of painkillers, and put an end to his suicide attempt. The couple married in 2025.