AFGHANISTAN. Herat. Saboor Hussaini is a transgender man from Herat who has faced physical harassment all his life because of his gender. When he was just a 6-month-old child, his father kicked him out of his home after knowing the truth about his gender. He believed that Hussaini’s birth was a bad omen for the entire family.
Recently, Faraydoon Fakoori, manager of Herat theatre gave Hussaini a role to play in a satiric series. In the series, Hussaini played the role of a dancer who learns dancing to travel to Europe.
The fans were in awe of his dancing skills and everyone appreciated his performance. Hussaini is a professional dancer in real life as well and is very passionate about singing and dancing.
However, shortly after the show, some unknown men punched Hussaini and damaged his eye. Due to that, he lost 90 per cent of the vision in his left eye.
Criticism faced by Hussaini
The incident shocked everyone including his close friend and the manager of Herat theatre, Faraydoon Fakoori
Talking to TCT, Hussaini said, “They asked me, why do you come to the mosque? After all, you are just a dancer. I said that dancing is also an art. After hearing this they punched me on the eye.”
Reapinding to the unfortunate incident, Faraydoon Fakoori said, “We gave him a role in the series ‘Living in dreams’ because he is a professional dancer. Unfortunately, he lost his eye after getting beaten by some men. He came under attack again a week ago, this time they punched him in the jaw, and burned his foot with hot wires because he was dancing at a party.”
Constantly pressurized to quit his job
Hussaini is a teacher by profession. However, after the entire incident, he had to face a lot of criticism due to his gender. He received many threatening messages which affected him emotionally and mentally. While talking to TCT, Fakoori said, “There has been continuing pressure by some parties to remove him from the job as we have written documents.”
Harassed everyday in public places
The 64-year-old wears a hat to cover his long hair and male clothes in public as a disguise. However, he still manages to draw attention because of his style of walking which is like a woman.
Hussaini said, “Some youths ask me immoral things and pass lewd comments which hurts me. I respond to them by saying that I am just like your father please have some respect.”
He further added, “What should we do? Should we kill ourselves? I wear hats and glasses because people will harass me if they find out my gender.”
Transgenders have to hide their identities for the sake of their security in Afghanistan. They can neither appear as a man, nor as a woman.
Talking about the LGBTQ community’s situation in the country, Hussaini said, “Our identity has been kept a secret from a long time. No one is there to stand with us. If someone genuinely tries to help us, then they get in trouble and face dire consequences.”
“This is the first time I am sharing this with the media that some men tricked him for an invitation to their home. Hussaini can’t mention their names because of his security,” Farooki said.
Lack of recognition by the government and society
Transgender people are still afraid to come out of the closet in Afghanistan. Afghan government still do not recognize the transgender community and no LGBTQ+ law has been passed by the government to support them.
Hussaini believes that if the government does not want to recognize people from the LGBTQ+ community then they should at least recognize them as disabled people.
Talking to TCT, Sobhan Rastegar, a human rights activist in Herat said,” Family, society, and government and even human rights authorities have forgotten about this community. No one is ready to stand with us.”
Dressing up as a woman among his people
Hussaini would always dress up as a man. However, he still used to carry a bag containing female dresses. Whenever he hangs out with his close friends, Hussaini always dresses up as a woman.
Hussaini’s close friend Fakoori said, “When he is with us, he shifts clothes because he feels comfortable with us.”
Hussaini has no other family members alive except his old aunt. Her aunt also had to suffer a lot in helping Hussaini.
Lack of support for gender reassignment surgery
Hussaini’s family has forbidden him from undergoing gender reassignment surgery. They have repeatedly told him to not interfere with God’s creation. However, deep down Hussaini still wants to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Hussaini said that he would like to become a woman if he gets adequate support for his surgery. He has also chosen a female name ‘Laila’ for himself.
According to Hussaini, there are at least 5 transgenders in Herat who are afraid to come out in public. When asked if he wants to live somewhere else in the future, he said, ” No, I want to live the rest of my life in my own country.” Lastly, he wishes that the Afghan government will finally recognize their community in the future.