For all of us – Opening message*
By: Maha Mohamed
Translated by: Basel Eren
Edited by: Lillianne Elkady
I have thought a lot about whom this opening article should be directed to, should I direct it to those who oppress us, hate us and hurt us? Perhaps using a peaceful tone – we love you, accept us, love us, please don’t hurt us! Or shall I address a message to the whole world – a bold and assertive declaration! We exist, we will continue to exist, and we will continue to demand our rights to live and be free; however, I have come to a decision that I should direct this to us, us trans people, only we deserve to direct this message to, and I am going to explain why.
When I thought about starting this project just two weeks ago, it sparked the interest of my talented trans friends who were completely on board; and what they have accomplished in the past few days was too good to be true, and what is really impressive is not just what we created, but it’s also about what each one of them did.
“Maya”, a very smart and educated transwoman in her thirties. She spent her days meticulously verifying information we weren’t sure of; long hours of conversations and heavy reading sessions, taking care of every small detail, that no one might even notice.
Then there is “Nour”, the trans artist who worked day and night to design our logo, the butterfly. That we have chosen to represent us, because like us, it moves from one phase to another, one phase where it crawls on earth, to a phase where it sets out towards the sky, after an arduous building of its transitory cocoon. Nour has truly given her all to create as many designs as she could, but when I showed her a design made by a friend of ours, she immediately, saying that it’s more beautiful than anything she had created those past days. She didn’t even think about how hard she worked on this, moved beyond that, and continued to work on the rest of the designs with sincerity.
And there is “Ivy”, an 18-year old trans woman, who had just been discharged from a mental hospital. She was forcibly admitted there by her cruel family, just so she would say one thing “I’m a boy not a girl”. She endured daily electro-shock sessions and was given medication meant for mental illness, until her parents gave up “curing” her. She came back home to find her personal computer gone, as well as her mobile phone. Regardless, she sneaked out every night after her mother had fallen asleep to use her phone and translate articles.
And “Allison”, an american trans woman in her sixties, who transcended all language and cultural barriers to support us. She is a prominent writer that gave us her copyright to publish and translate her articles. Not only that, but she has become a link to other trans writers from around the world in order to gain the right to freely translate and publish their work.
Furthermore, there is “Nad”, our beautiful gender non-conforming soul, who lives in a harsh gulf arabic country, dealing with even harsher personal issues. They produce narrative writing that is so delicate, intimate and beautiful – unlike any I’ve ever read.
We also have “Sophia”, the trans girl who insisted on completing her contribution on time even while battling severe illness.
We are also joined by “Amina”, a trans woman who was forced to immigrate just a few days ago to a foreign country. Despite being in a place she knows nothing about, she was still able to write and translate in the midst of complex and precarious conditions.
All of this has been entirely voluntary, with no gain whatsoever, and therefore it is us who deserve to receive the opening message, us trans folks. Not just to overcome the boundaries of sex and gender, but against all boundaries of oppression, repression, ignorance and backwardness, against all the barriers of cruelty, injustice, violence and hatred. This is for everyone who has the courage to be different in a merciless world. We are here for you, just to make you feel a little less lonely in this world. We are here with you to remind you that our lives are ours, and so are our identities.
Thank you for being here alongside us.
*This was the opening article of Transat, published in Arabic language in November 2017