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The sad tale of Egyptian trans activist


Malak el-Kashif is one of Egypt’s outspoken transgender.

At birth she was assigned a male identity. But growing up, el-Kashif named Abdel-Rahman said she identified as female.

At just 13-years old she fled home due to family rejection.

“My parents’ rejection was like a bomb, imagine when your safe area, your go-to when someone in the street beats you, the one you call when you are lost anywhere or when you take a cab while not having enough money with you and they pay, that safe area was the one who rejected you and forced you to get into bigger war, not only with your identity but with everything because when our families bail on us, life becomes more difficult and the confrontation becomes bigger”, el-Kashif said.

She was diagnosed with ‘‘gender identity disorder’‘. A term replaced in the American psychiatric Association’s diagnostic guide by ‘’ gender dysphoria’‘. A disconnect between assigned gender at birth and the one a person identifies with. Her activism has led to several arrest in conservative Egypt.

“I was imprisoned three times, the last time was not my first time. The first two times were related to public morals and that’s because our looks were not convenient to the police officers, that’s what they told us. We were not arrested for doing anything shameful or without our clothes on, we were arrested and we were told that “you are queers, we don’t like the way you look” but eventually we were let go because there was nothing to be accused of’‘, she added.

El-Kashif was held in a male’s prison. After her release, she filed a lawsuit demanding special places for holding transgender people in prisons and police stations.

In 2019, she completed her gender transitioning surgeries. Reactions from Egyptians were mixed. While others congratulated her for the inspiration, others rained insults on her.

El-Kashif’s mother declined comment for this story.


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