Arab trans people are suffering, but to what degree differs from country to country and from one family to another and from society to society. The concept that a trans person would change what the God has created – Transition – is not accepted or even debated. This is especially true for the MTF who suffer double persecution and marginalization in their societies. Basically, this is because the society considers the male is the most dominant or important or strong gender over the weak female gender that is created to serve the male desire and stay with the children in the house.
It is a big shame – from the Arab society’s point of view – when a male who has all these advantages prefers to be a female. In addition, the society automatically links this transition to a kind of prostitution or considered this person as a “gay”. Unfortunately, the Arab media reinforces this idea and spreading the spirit of aggression against trans person by drawing a bad image for them in media.
More bad news is happened when religious group killed many trans or any man looks like a woman in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria. On the other hand, countries like Saudi Arabia, which chairs the UN Human Rights council convicts transwoman or anyone who looks or acts feminine with sentences that can include lashes, prison, and fines. It is really a bad situation for those trans that living on those societies where the society denied the simple trans right to live in their authentic gender. The trans suffer at the start the transition – if they can – which is critical decision from them in their life and for their families. This article studies the Arab trans classes before and after the transition from our experience and point of view. It is clear that there are 4 main classes of the Arab trans that they may pass through it:
1- Trans who are get the full family support: There are few Arab trans people who are lucky enough to have emotional and financial support from family, friends or society. These individuals are afforded the opportunity to transition successfully reach a higher degree of confidence, engaging in all life offers and may pursue their studies or find a job, This category is usually more stable as they don’t have to leave their countries in order to live.
2- Trans who are get a partial family support: These categories may meet the family member and get the support from the family secretly to protect the trans and themselves from the shame, but they are not allowed to live with their families. This is a good situation – in some extent – as they may get partial emotional and financial support, but they suffer from the loneliness and the family marginalization. When there are important decisions to be made, they are made without them potentially excluding them from family legacy. This category fluctuates, not having a stable life as the family cannot protect them, therefore they may think to leave their countries to search for a better and safe life.
3- Trans who get no support: Many Arab trans may lose their family because their families are not welcoming to members who are trans. They force them to leave the house and live far away from them (in a different state or town for example).
Why do so many families ask the trans member to leave their house?
Simply, because they feel shame and fear. They do not know how to explain this transition to the neighbors and society. Society may accuse the family of spoiling this trans person or is a result of uncontrolled behavior during adolescence. They will advise the family to force this trans person to stop transition or leave the house forever.
Many families think that transsexualism is punishment which Allah has inflicted on their family. This will lead to surrendering to the pressures and demanding that that if trans member wants to return they do so without performing the transition. In this category, some trans people are forced to live in another state of the country or in another country or seek asylum in a country that accepts and welcomes them.
Many trans who are rejected from the family hesitate before they take the final decision to join into this third category or to remain in the fourth category. The good advantages of this category are that they develop a self-trust and become confident as they gain life experience and are able to deal with problems and achieve their goals.
I classify myself as a member of this category, where my family and country rejected me completely. I started my transition outside my country and I moved recently to New Zealand which is my home now. The strangest thing happened when my family in Yemen started to partially accept me, I believe this is because I am far away from them which clearly indicate that the problem might not be from the family, but rather it because of the religion, society and a culture that hates and excludes anyone who doing a thing that differs from their stereotype, such as the trans transition.
4- Trans who are surrender to the family wish: Sadly many trans people won’t begin to transition or are forced to stop transition to satisfy their family and society wishes. The members of this category feel that they are very weak, shy and may think that they will never achieve their dreams. They cannot express their authentic gender to their family and they seek a help and validation from social media because it is only the way that they can express their feelings.
Consequently, they may become isolated from the society activity and may become vulnerable to people who want to abuse or exploit them for their sexual purpose. The lack of confidence, knowledge, financial and moral support from family and society take a huge toll on members of this category psychologically and emotionally. Unfortunately, many Arab trans people exist in this category for very long time before they decide to shift to the third category. If they are exceptionally lucky they may become a part of the first or second category if the family accepts them.
It could be said that some trans may decide to be in the fourth category for religious reasons or to meet society’s requirements or to get married or give themselves more time to think about the transition, eventually, they may decide to transition and classify as members of any one of these first three categories.
We hope that all Arab trans will be armed with knowledge and try to start their transition as much as possible. Good luck for all in their long journey.