Community Heroes with Erfan Part 3

Last week Erfan shared with us his challenging journey as an Iranian trans refugee in Germany trying to get his gender reassignment. Let’s see how his path continued!
It was during a reading from a queer refugee book project he participated in that Erfan (left) and Micky from AR met and became best friends. Here young and fresh in 2017 😊 3 years later, Erfan was Micky’s best man in their wedding ceremony!

Micky @Micky.Montreal: Wow, you finally got the news by your health insurance that they would cover your top surgery. What a big day!  How did things go from there?

Erfan @erfan.khoshrouzi: I immediately spoke to the hospital and I got a preliminary appointment. I asked all my questions and the surgeon explained everything and in the end, I got the appointment for my first surgery. I then started to prepare myself for the surgery because I would be released home after one week. I cleaned the apartment and I pre-cooked meals for two weeks and stored them in my freezer and I packed my suitcases. Even though I knew I was alone, and that I would be in pain afterwards, I felt very sure that I want to do it, and everything was great. After the surgery, the mastectomy, my body was almost alien to me but otherwise everything was fine. I had some pain in the chest area and on the back but not too bad, or at least that is what I say now, because the next surgery was mega strenuous. For each surgery is different. 1.5 years later I did the second surgery (adnexectomy and hysterectomy). It was a tough surgery and very painful and I can't describe exactly how horrible it was. After a week I was supposed to go home but I still couldn't pee and I have had no bowel movement. A day later, when I was at home, I wanted to try to pee because the bladder was totally full but it was just huge sized blood clots. I was too weak to walk, and started seeing only black, it was time to go to the doctor immediately. I contacted a friend and told her I need help. We went together to my GP.  when I was there, I fell over and passed out on the floor.  I couldn’t say anything, I could only hear that the doctor was talking to an ambulance, and they were trying to wake me up. 6 hours later, when I was awake, I found myself back in the hospital and I was supposed to get another surgery…Now it's been 9 months that it's all over and I'm preparing for the last surgery (phalloplasty) scheduled for September 2020.

Micky: Some transmen celebrate their „t-birthday”, do you do that, too?

Erfan: No, I am not doing that, for a variety of reasons.

Micky: What helped you during your transition? Did you have any role models? For example, on TV, Instagram, like famous trans people from Iran or other countries?

Erfan: Yes, when I was in Iran I got to know a lot of people that were trans, including an actor who was ftm trans. Once he had transitioned, he couldn't work as an actor anymore.  At best, he got a small role as an extra. He organized a couple of workshops in his apartment, quite privately, and we could meet other trans people there and share our experiences about doctors, or the district court, and the relationships with our parents. But generally, you can't find much about trans on Iranian TV although now it is much better than when I was living in Iran.

Micky: Many trans people post their post-surgery photos on Instagram. What is your opinion about that?

Erfan: I posted two photos but then I deleted them.

I prefer not to do it because the people I follow are from Iran and many can't have surgery, many still have a lot of problems with their parents,  a lot of them have no money,  and there is no help from the government, the surgeries are not covered by insurance, the quality of the surgeries is very bad… and they can't all just go and leave to another country (like I did). So I always prefer to do everything quietly and privately and I am careful about what I post. I prefer to stay private about the different steps of my transition. Who knows, maybe I do post something in the future? If so, I will have a different opinion and a reason for that.

Micky: Was it difficult for you to get asylum in Germany?

Erfan: Yes, that was very difficult.

Micky: How is the LGBT scene in Berlin different from Teheran?

Erfan: It is completely different; you can’t compare that at all!

Micky: Which challenges or problems are you facing in your daily life as a trans person?

Erfan: Now I have no problems but until recently it was terrible.  When I was looking for an apartment or when I was in a government’s agency or when I was in (German language) school. Because all my papers and documents were the same as before while in reality, I already had a beard and my voice was pretty male. Or when I attach my certificates and report cards to an application. They are still female and with photos where I am wearing a headscarf and I can’t change those at all.

Micky: Many trans people have difficulties in finding a safe home. How was that for you?

Erfan: I have said this in interviews before. The LGBT refugee housing is supposed to be for LGBT refugees! But unfortunately, there are a lot of straight people living there who pretend to be gay. I am still in touch with friends who are still living there, and they are all complaining about that. While I was living there, I experienced a lot of Transphobia. When I didn’t have my beard yet, someone would say to me “you will never be a real man, even after your surgeries”. I have had a couple of gay friends from Iran living there, and I asked to share the room with them instead of with the lesbians. I talked to the social worker, who said “hm, those are all men, you have to talk to the boss”. The boss also declined my wish. I eventually signed a declaration that this is my personal wish, but it didn’t help either. In the end I was told that I am not a man, and I must live with the lesbian and trans people. I still remember that. I have been looking for my apartment for 2 years. Honestly, I searched for it every day without a break.  I wanted to have my own apartment so badly. I didn’t want to live in a shared flat because of the lack of privacy. I also encountered many problems in the refugee housing due to a lack of cleanliness.

Micky: What do you like most about your life right now?

Erfan: Everything I have at the moment. I have fought for everything but I still have a very long way to go. Living is like a treadmill and you always have to run and that's infinite as long as you live in this world. That's my development process. You can get tired and to be clear, I'm very tired even now. Yet I always keep going, without stopping

Micky: What do you miss most from Iran?

Erfan: My mother and the support of my mother. I'm alone here and sometimes you need someone if you have a bad day, or if you're disappointed, and she's trying everything in her power to help you feel better. You can't get that feeling from friends or a partner.  Everyone will leave you alone if there are one or more problems, everyone will try to get away, except a mother.

Micky: Erfan, what is your mother tongue? How about pronouns? Does your mother tongue have gender-neutral pronouns for trans and non-binary people?

Erfan: My mother tongue is Persian (Farsi). We don’t use any pronouns at all for human beings. There is no “he” or “she” either.


Follow us and see how Erfan’s story continued, how he never gave up and eventually got his top surgery! Read how he prepared himself for more gender affirming surgeries, what his dreams are for the future, and what tips he has for other trans folx!

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