Micky @micky.montreal from Aadya Rising: How did your family react? Could you/can you talk to them about it, do they accept you as trans?
Erfan @erfan.khoshrouzi: My father is a religious, fanatic and conservative (close to the state) person. When he noticed my non-normative behavior and non-normative style of clothing, he threatened several times to kill me. He said his reputation was more important than me. I was mostly without women's clothes and for this reason once arrested by the police and sentenced by the court to lashes for disregarding the rules of the veil. The sentence was suspended on probation on presentation of a commitment. Nevertheless, I did not abheve this declaration of commitment and was therefore often beaten by my father, who saw me in the street in male clothes.
My mother was also against it for one year, but when my psychotherapist wanted me to undergo electro convulsive therapy (ECT)/ electroshock therapy, she accepted me because she loves me. And she also had a tough life. She has supported me a lot, without her I wouldn’t have been able to leave Iran. My mom keeps supporting me and we have a perfect relationship.
Micky: Erfan, you are heterosexual, yet in Iran you also experienced homophobia. Because people believed you to be lesbian prior to your transition. How did this affect your life and your studies at University?
Erfan: Yes, first of all, I always had to wear a headscarf and a long coat because I had to live there as a woman but my hair was always so short and my clothes were always very sporty and I had no makeup. Besides, I was physically of a respectable stature and pretty tall.
Probably, when your followers read this they will think this is completely crazy but that is the truth: if a woman in Iran does not look like a real woman then she is considered abnormal.
This is also true for men, not only women, e.g., if a man wears his hair long then people will say “who are you, a woman? Or are you gay?”
Just the other way around if a woman wears her hair short then they say “are you a man? Or you don't want to marry?”
Men don't like it when a woman doesn't have long hair.
To be honest everyone thought I am a lesbian.
I had another problem with Herasat, the university's Department of Safety and Security.
I had been studying for a year, and many fellow students described me as a lesbian because I was dating a fellow student, my girlfriend at the time. One day my girlfriend's mother came to university and insulted me and my mother in front of all people. She complained to the university's management. Arguing that I am spreading depravity and posed a danger to the women at university, this woman has won over some of the students' family members and they have all complained to the Department of Security and Security about me.
14 people have grouped up and signed a letter against me.
The Department of Safety and Security summoned me and applied for ex-matriculation to the management of the university.
Even before the final decision was made, I left university. At that point I still figured I will be able to return later, as soon as things have calmed down…
(comment: Erfan never returned to University since).
Micky: What is the legal situation for LGBT people in Iran?
Erfan: Usually only transsexuality is legal in Iran. Yet there is only one way to be trans. The trans person is not allowed to decide for themselves which surgeries they want to do. If a trans person is ftm he must be a “typical man”, and the other way around, a mtf person must be a “typical woman”. The body has to be made fitting according to the sex. Once that is accomplished, one can start other things such as name change etc…
To be gay, lesbian, or bisexual is completely forbidden in Iran. And Intersex people may choose for either one or the other sex and then have surgery.
Micky: How did things continue? We would be happy if you shared with us the beginning of your transition.
Erfan: When I was still in Iran, I started the process of transitioning. This will be a long story… and very sad …honestly, I didn't want to live any more … but let me return to the question.
In Germany, I started everything all over again, step by step.
I lived in a housing for queer refugees in Berlin. Every two weeks a doctor came there, and I talked to him about being trans. I showed him my documents and everything to prove that I had been trying to transition for over 4 years, and I remember that I was crying.
I was very tired, not physically but mentally, and I had no hope.
I had lost my youth years, my mom, my girlfriend, my sense of belonging.
The doctor said you need a notice (a special document necessary to start HRT) from a person and I don't remember what the woman's name is but she was a trans woman and when I was there, I felt we both had the same energy. I couldn't speak German well back then but we could somehow understand each other and I got this notice (document) and she didn't even make me come for more appointments.
I planned to visit the doctor again 2 weeks later and give him the notice. I was very excited and happy because I wanted to take hormones, that was my biggest wish.
After two weeks the doctor accepted the notice but he wanted to pass some tests first to be able to choose the right hormone dosage and I had to wait another two weeks but finally I started.
The rules in Germany are that you have to take hormones for 18 months and parallelly see a psychotherapist for 18 months as well, after which you can then send an application to the health insurance company and apply for gender-affirming surgeries. There was a counselor from the gay counseling office in Berlin who ran the refugee housing who said he was a psychotherapist which in fact he wasn’t. I started sessions with him and after one year I asked
“when can I have your report”? and it turned out he wasn’t allowed to write it because he was not a real psychotherapist. So I had to find a certified psychotherapist and start all over again, but this time I was very careful. Finally, I started the sessions, and I had to tell my entire story all over again, which is not pleasant for me. But I depended on an expert’s opinion, so I was very patient. I didn’t want to come across as aggressive.
I did everything (to gather the required documents) for 18 months, then the doctor sent all the letters I needed to cover the costs to the health insurance.
He sent a request there for the complete number of surgeries, because I wanted to do all the surgeries, even though I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted to do the last surgery or not. Yet I figured I would have enough time to think about it.
After one month I got the answer that I may do the surgeries!
Follow us and see how Erfan’s story continued, how he never gave up and eventually got his top surgery!
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