First Individual: I’m a lady, a refugee, ‘I’m who I’m’

“What makes folks flee their properties? Folks flee from warfare, starvation, violence, excessive poverty, and even journey or love. I left Lebanon. I used to be in actual hazard of being killed as a result of I used to be born into the unsuitable physique, and wished to speak about it.  

Once I was 9, I checked out myself within the full-length mirror, and I couldn’t perceive why I didn’t have a woman’s physique. I recognized with my 5 sisters. I assumed I used to be considered one of them. I preferred to play with them; I wore my mom’s garments after I hung out with them. I barely spent any time with my brothers. 

Crushed and rejected 

When my father noticed me like this, he beat me. He beat me so exhausting with a stick that I fainted, blood pouring out of my ears. One other time he stabbed me within the arm, and I nonetheless have that bodily scar.  

What you see isn’t who I’m: I’m Leyla

He by no means accepted me. Although, I used to be woman. I knew it then, and at this time though I’m a father, I nonetheless don’t really feel male. I’m trapped in my physique. I do not wish to have a beard. What you see isn’t who I’m: I’m Leyla.  

It hasn’t been straightforward, this selection, this life. I used to be bullied mercilessly at college. My father even tried to have me expelled. He kicked me out of the home, and I needed to work for a dwelling simply to complete college. 

Then it was college. You’d suppose I’d discover some tolerance there. I didn’t – the identical story: bullying and discrimination, bullying and discrimination. I do know that schooling is the important thing, to success and tolerance. And schooling was just like the forbidden fruit for me. The extra they tried to hinder my growth, the extra keen I used to be to make use of it to pursue my targets. 

Masking up 

After college, I labored within the media and saved my identification a secret. Little by little, I began to acknowledge extra folks like me. We communicated by way of secret indicators within the daytime, however at night time I hid my beard, placed on a wig and loved the sensation of being free, being me. 

I married a lesbian to appease my household and we had two fantastic youngsters

Regardless of some valuable moments, life was nonetheless sophisticated. Very sophisticated. I married a lesbian to appease my household and we had two fantastic youngsters throughout our seven-year marriage.   

Lastly, I made a decision to cease denying who I used to be and work for our LGBTQI+ rights. I linked with different folks in that neighborhood and have become an activist, running a blog and operating an LGBTQI+ web site. 

So, there I used to be. Regardless of all of the difficulties, the double life, and the taboos, I had a actually good life in Lebanon: I had a house, a pleasant automotive, a superb job, buddies, and fantastic, lovely children…and hassle was coming my means. 

‘Males have been coming to kill me’ 

One night time I used to be at house after I heard shouting from outdoors and knew males have been coming to kill me. My life was a sin and deserved to die, of their eyes. I jumped from the balcony and ran away. 

I did not take something as a result of I simply wished to keep away from being caught and killed. I arrived on the airport at 3AM, and was in Istanbul earlier than daybreak.  

Once I arrived in Turkey, I felt impressed by the liberty that LGBTIQ+ neighborhood members loved in society. They gave me hope that I might be the lady I’m. I made new buddies and commenced dressing up in lovely attire, doing my make-up, and going out within the metropolis with them.  Nevertheless, though there was solidarity in our neighborhood, in wider society, I confronted the identical discrimination and hate speech right here that I had confronted in Lebanon. 

Leyla with her twelve-year-old son and thirteen-year-old daughter.

© IOM Turkey/Begum Basaran

Leyla along with her twelve-year-old son and thirteen-year-old daughter.

‘Mummy and daddy’ 

Then two good issues occurred. First, six months in the past, my ex-wife helped with all of the paperwork for kids and my sister introduced them right here, and now they reside with me. I’m mummy and daddy to them.  

Second, I obtained in contact with a migrant centre run by IOM, which helped me with authorized points, like getting my children into college and getting common healthcare. They even helped me get a job in an Arabic restaurant. 

I wish to reside as who I’m with out fear. And once more, I must thank IOM for serving to me

Life is steady, the panic is over, and I’ve my youngsters with me.  Nevertheless, this isn’t the top of my journey. Turkey has been good to me, by and huge.  I wish to reside as who I’m with out fear. And once more, I must thank IOM for serving to me get a foot on that highway.  

I went to the provincial migration workplace for an interview, and after two days, I used to be granted conditional refugee standing. I have not acquired any additional info on resettlement. 

Standing by 

I am standing by. I am undecided the place I’ll find yourself.  I believe it will be good to maneuver to an English or French-speaking nation as a result of these are the languages I converse. 

I wish to end by saying that discrimination is totally futile. There isn’t any profit to it. It achieves nothing. It simply damages folks, and it damages society. 

For me, it made me stronger, and now I’ve a brand new household: the LGBTIQ+ neighborhood. It’s not simply my neighborhood and my household, although. It’s my life, and it’s an emblem of my identification. And I do know one factor for positive, we’re all born equal, and all of us should be handled that means.”  


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