Transgender community in Jordan faces abuse, discrimination

Cover of MyKali Magazine where JHR-mentored journalist Hiba Abu Taha published her piece. The cover features Rachid, who transitioned from female to male despite Jordan criminalizing sexual reassignment surgeries. Courtesy, JHR and MyKali Magazine

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LGBTQ rights in Jordan are tenuous, to say the least. Although the country decriminalized “same-sex behaviour” in 1951, cases of abuse and widespread discrimination continue. Senior government ministers in the conservative country make public remarks against what they believe to be “sexual deviance” tarnishing the decency of the state.

In June, JHR Jordan supported local journalist Hiba Abu Taha in producing an in-depth story on transgender rights in the country. Abu Taha spoke with two transgender individuals about the challenges of transitioning in Jordanian society. Both have faced abuse, discrimination and persecution for identifying as transgender.

READ MORE: Being transgender no longer a mental-health condition, says WHO

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“Ever since I was a child, I rejected myself as a male. For years, I was silent and did not express my feelings until I got to the point where I had to express myself. I got to the point where I either die or face everyone and start the transition process,” said Maya, a transgender woman whose real name has been withheld to protect her safety.

Muna, whose real name has also been withheld, is a transgender man currently in the process of transitioning. After facing abuse at home, Muna said he chose to run away with his lover but was reported to the police by his parents. After being detained by local authorities, Muna was sent for a medical evaluation. A psychiatrist referred him to a hospital for mental illness, where he faced humiliation and abuse.

READ MORE: Chile families face obstacles in having their transgender children accepted

In Jordan, sex reassignment surgery is also difficult to obtain; its legal status is currently unclear, though some activists are working to change that.

To read Abu Taha’s groundbreaking story in English click here. To read the original in Arabic click here.

This story was originally published in Arabic in My.Kali Magazine, a conceptual webzine for and from the Middle East and North Africa.

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Journalists for Human Rights has been working to improve coverage and public discussion on human rights in Jordan since 2013. The organization locally registered in the country in November 2017.

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