Saturday, November 26, 2016

Transgender ban in Saudi Arabia

Last night, I was ready to write out my feelings in a bout of rage and hurt.  Now, it’s just hurt and I will be gentle because my feelings have become gentler thanks to unexpectedly falling asleep early last night.  I have had a night to separate now from my initial anger.  Saudi Arabia, let me start with saying that you are a kingdom of confusion, and that confusion is never ending.  Saudi Arabia’s people, on a social level, are in fact comprised of a lot of love and acceptance.  And people in Saudi Arabia are often more honest and authentic on an individual basis than many in western society that I’ve encountered.  I know this on a personal level because I have witnessed and experienced it.  My Saudi family is a prime example.  Trying to convey this to others is often near impossible, and I have given up on that.  So, I have to speak of Saudi Arabia more as a nation when the topic comes up, because I know that is the Saudi Arabia that people see.  And whose fault is that?  Saudi Arabia’s fault.  And that is because the country as a whole is an entirely different entity than the individual rays of light that are actually within those borders but who are silenced way too often.

To speak of a slightly larger scale than my family: there are artists whose expression is full of so much depth and a desire for progress that it hurts to look at – it’s a really beautiful pain.  Yes, there are Saudi artists and the art is absolutely stunning and powerful.  On a grander scale, however, none of this is evident to the rest of the world.  And that is because people with brilliance may be, and are, killed for their brilliance and uniqueness.  It breaks my heart sometimes, especially now. 

As of yesterday, a few news sources released yet another update on yet another ban announced by the Saudi government.  To quote Business Recorder: “Saudi Arabia on Tuesday banned all transgender persons to perform Umrah, furthermore also denying access to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
The directives were formally issued by the Saudi government, while the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia sternly instructed Travel Agents Association of Pakistan not to process the visa files of any transgender person.
The Saudi government has also urged its consuls all around the world to deny visas to any transgender person, specifically to those who wish to perform Umrah.
No reason has been given for this abrupt initiative.”

I’m not trying to express any shock on my part when it comes to this inhumane ban; I’m unfortunately not surprised by anything regarding Saudi Arabia.  However, I’m still very, very hurt and extremely frustrated that this is happening. 

To quote the Quran:

“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males, Or He makes them [both] males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent.”  That is from the 42nd chapter.  Verses 49 and 50.

So according to the sacred book of Islam itself: God makes some BOTH male and female.  Of course, one can (and should) argue that a transman or transwoman is not both genders.  Someone who is trans is the gender he or she is mentally, emotionally, sometimes eventually physically.  However, notice the lack of elaboration on that particular Quran verse.  There is no distinction as to whether the sex of a person or the gender of a person is being referred to.  Sex and gender are sometimes different for people; the Quran does not harp on this beyond a verse.  Regular people – not God, not religious figures like the prophets – are the ones who get bent out of shape about gender and sex and the NEED to have the two match regardless of one’s true self.  Humanity imposes sadness on itself – not religion.  Religion – in this case, Islam – is supposed to be a religion of peace, equality and love.  How is this being exemplified with this ban?  It is not – in fact, those responsible for this ban are directly opposing Islam.  The verse appears to be acknowledging that gender is a spectrum; it can be argued that the gender and the sex of a person do not always match at birth, and depending on someone’s decisions regarding their bodies during the course of their lives, the sex and gender of a person may never match according to the binary way of thinking re: gender or sex according to the world’s simple-minded description of the billions of human beings who have inhabited this diverse planet.  

To the trans community: not that this makes any difference in all of this, but know that you have at least one person who is technically Saudi who adamantly opposes this ban.  And especially to Muslim trans individuals who probably would like to see Mecca at one point in your lives: I’m sorry.  I don’t like to have to apologize on behalf of bigots who live with and swear by a perpetual state of hate and judgment, but I feel compelled to when it comes to this.

Moving on to America – with this recent election, is our country headed in a much better direction?  It does not feel that way.  I am afraid for my own minority groups I fit into, and I am also scared for all of the other minority groups that make up this country.  Because I am on the topic of the trans community, I would like to highlight some of the fear that I have on behalf of this community of authentic people: Texas has a bill looming more and more closely that would ban a person from using a restroom matching their correct gender.  A human biological need to use the restroom – in a space that is fitting for them – being BANNED by the government?  Um, what?  Yes, I know this is not new.  But it should not be REnewed in 2017.  I want to say that I doubt the U.S. government will announce a ban when it comes to “sexual minorities” entering the country (to use a commonly-used blanket term) but, honestly, who knows?  This country is turning down a dark and dangerous path; if Muslims are expected to be on a registered list, maybe those who are LGBT will be next.  Hmm, does this sound like the ‘40s in Europe all over again or what? 

I added in that last paragraph to say that I am not pleased with western society either, mainly my country.  I’m not saying that Saudi Arabia is the only culprit when it comes to inequality and injustice.  Every nation has its problems.  Speaking as an American who is half Saudi Arabian, I see the flaws in both governments and am disgusted by both sets of governments’ flaws. 

The millennial generation of Saudi Arabia and the future generations of Saudi Arabia will hopefully take at least miniscule steps toward a more humane environment, just as I hope to see happen in the United States.  Saudi Arabia will hopefully remember – at some point – that Islam is a religion that embraces humanity as a whole.  Humans are not God, and humans must remember that to make such judgment on one another and to impose oppression on one another is adamantly opposing the entire idea of religion.  Please, if you disagree and you believe some humans are inferior to others and that humans should ignore who they truly are: say it, and try to back yourself up.  See if you can while maintaining the values of Islam that you profess having innately within you.