Saturday, February 25, 2017

How a Transgender Man Tries to Honor His Muslim Faith

Via latimes: (...)"This path he had taken was not an easy one. Perhaps, however it would settle once and for all: Could Alex be transgender and Muslim at the same time?

"Muslim Arabs have some history with people who hold a culturally recognized third gender, including eunuchs who lived in the time of the prophet Muhammad and came into contact with him. But not in the modern period.

(...)"Alex is aware of media reports that naively heralded Iran as an affirming place for transgender people in the wake of the 1987 decision by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini allowing gender-reassignment surgery. Iran is now the second-largest center for the procedure behind Thailand, according to some estimates.

(...)""Those decisions just allow them to 'fix' people and say that they don't have gay people," Alex says. "It's because they are so conservative, not because they are liberal in any way. They would never allow someone like me: a trans man who is sexually attracted to men and women and trans men and trans women."

(...)"Alex sometimes envies the path of his best friend, Zaki Hale, who is also Palestinian American.

""My cousin told me you can't be gay and Muslim, so I just said, 'I'd much rather be gay,'" Zaki told Alex.

"Zaki, 22, has never looked back.

(...)"For him, it is no easier to shed his faith than his gender and sexuality.

"He knew there would be days when worries over his body image would prevent him from even leaving his apartment. On Facebook this summer, he typed that he was searching for "anyone who has time just to help me just get out the house without crying. I'm reaching out cuz I need help."

"But to his surprise, the struggle to reconcile his identity has brought moments of exhilaration as well.

"At San Francisco's Pride Parade this year, he drew loud cheers as he marched wearing the trans flag on his back as a cape and his father's kaffiyeh hanging from his neck. On his arm, he showed off his tattoo of the Arabic word for strength.

"Alex is studying psychology at City College of San Francisco. "Because, you know, of my past," he said. "I like working out what is the difference between persuasion and manipulation and figuring out where that manipulation is really rooted."

"But the acclaim coincided with a quiet realization that maybe he wasn't too far off from Zaki's conclusion that you couldn't be Muslim and LGBTQ. So, in frustration, he stopped going to the mosque." Read the article: How a Transgender Man Tries to Honor His Muslim Faith by Garrett Therolf, July 21, 2015 Los Angeles Times