Sally and Antoinella: Transgenders fighting for acceptance

A philosopher once said ‘Life worths nothing without a cause to fight for’.

I just heard Jesse on radio saying it while thinking of Sally and Antoinella , the two transgender women who appeared on Rotana last monday with Wafa’ Al kilnai in her last epsiode of the her popular show ‘Ded Al Tayyar’ (Against the current).

For Sally and Antoinella their cause has been fighting to prove their gender identity. Two women as they percieve themsevles fighting the curse that was born with them in a shape of a male body. For years they struggled between their perception of their gender identity being females and the society perception of them being males. They endured a very hard sex correction operations and still they have to prove their gender identity to the public.

I love Wafa’ Al Kilani and her courage as a TV show hostess in facing her guests with the toughest question. This last episode was no different, but it left me wondering about the questions of Wafa’, whether she is really ignorant about the transgenders situation, or trying to ask ignorant questions in order to give Sally and Antoinella a chance to answer the majority of the Arabic public who have no clue what being a transgender mean.

For instance Antoinella claimed that she had no sexual attraction to either males or females before having the sex change operation. Wafa’ asked her: If you had no attraction to males, then how did you know that you are a female?! Ofcourse no one suggested that gender identity is not connected to sexual orientation, and while their might be some correleation between the two, still a person can identify herself to be a woman, while having a man’s body and still be attracted to another woman!

Wafa’ also blurred the line between homosexuality and transgenders when she asked Sally whether she had any homosexual activity before the operation or not. Sally answered sharply that she did not practice homosexuality.

For the public eye, this may not be clear. While Sally had a man’s body, she never percieved herself as a man, and if she happened to had sex with her man’s body with another man, she never considered it a same-sex action because she is a woman in the inside and thus it is hetreosexual sex for her.

She even said that she was proud of her femininity when other boys used to hit on her at school. The picture in my head is for a boy being girly and trying to prove it, while other boys trying to prove their masculinity at that age taking a chance over him, I mean her. Wafa’ was surprised of the pride of Sally with her femininity and her joy of the boys harassing. Sally answered that she is a woman, and any woman loves men’s attention. (Ofcourse they squarrel between the definitions of sexual harassamenet and males attention)

I loved Sally’s self confidence in her cause. Once she had the operation and changed her official sex, the Azhar university in Cairo, where she has been studying medicine, dismissed her in her last year of studying. Sally went to court and fought for her right. She won the case, but the Azhar head manager refused to let her back in as a woman. I guess in Al Azhar there is a sex seperation where men study togather and women study togather. Sally for him is still identified to be a man, and thus can’t be allowed to study with other women! Sally vowed that he would end up in jail if he refused to apply the court order!

A priest and a sheikh were presented in the show. The priest to face the lebanese Antoinella and the sheikh to face the Egyptian Sally. While the priest did not really add anything to the discussion where Antoinella seemed to enjoy the slightly more tolerant Lebanese society with the forgiveness of the lebanese church spirit. The sheikh stood firm with his Islamic definitions that are more derived from a 1500 years old science rather than holy versus of the Quran.

The same problem is discussed before popped up where our Arabic culture is based on the outer touchable sense of things, where in our cultural heritage, there are two types of transgenders. A true and a fake one. The true one is where we can find hidden sexual organs of the opposite sex in the same body and in which Islam agree to have the sex correction procedure (this has nothing to do with being a transgender), and the fake one which is in Sally’s case where sexual organs have a clear indication of the sex of the person and thus her case is dismissed.

According to Sally, the brain the most dominant sexual organ, and there is no science to change the brain, we can change the body to fit with it. For the sheikh, he wants a clear evidence. 1500 years ago, the brain functionality science hasn’t been as advanced as today, and while the physical outer attribute of things helped us drew strong definitions, current science came and redefined the nature of things while highlighted the importance of brain and its dominant role in our behaviour.

whether Sally and Antoinella would ever gain society acceptance is yet to be seen. In Iran sex change operation is accepted. Transgenders are more accepted in the public eye after having the operation because we love fixed attributes of sexes. Those who carry different attributes of males and females are just not welcomed in our societies.

For homosexuals, secrecy is the answer for their problems, and for transgenders, it is sex change operation.

Can’t we just open our eyes and be more compassionate?

Single women and custody

I am following up in newspapers with the news of the government social department actions to deal with the problem of abandoned babies. It seems that they are more open towards facilitating Jordanian married couples to take custody over those babies and provide them with family support. Custody is the acceptable way in an Islamic society where adoption is forbidden in Islam. As far as I know, you can raise a child as yours but can’t give him your name in order not to mess in races. So custody is the word for us in Jordan, and there are rules to regulate this process.

Yesterday 2/26, while reading Al Rai’s newspaper, an article caught my attention. The article was talking about child custody and single woman. While custody in Jordan can be granted to only married couples, the writer highlights the unfairness towards single women who never got a chance to get married and thus never had a baby of their own. A lot of spinster women dream to hear someone calling them ‘mama’ and we can make their dream come true by allowing them to get custody over those children.

I find introducing such topic in the most popular newspaper in Jordan and to the conservative society we have in Jordan some how daring. The idea of having single woman taking custody over abandoned children and raise them alone has never been introduced to be discussed to the Jordanian public. I rushed to read the writer’s name, and to my surprise, she turned to be Suhair’s Bushnaq, which seems to be focused on this issue, and whom I critisized in a previous post for her request of more restrictions on our domestic workers. My surprise was triggered because I didn’t expect that the woman who had no compassion towards other domestic workers women, can have this strong compassion towards spinster women who wish to have a baby for their own without getting married.

To be honest, Jordanian society is so traditional. A single parent family is something no one believe to be healthy. Both women and men are pressured hard to get married and stay in that marriage no matter what problems they may face. With current inflation of prices, and the continuous increase of life expenses that became unbearable to a large group of Jordanians, a lot of men find themselves forced to either postpone their marriage plans to a very late age, or cancel it all togather. Jordanian woman in the other hand, whom social constraints forbide them of proposing to men, and thus have to stay passive waiting for their chance to come to their door, are becoming more and more desperate to grab such chance where a groom is becoming a rare coin.

A lot of women in Jordan are raised with a mentality of not desiring a man, at least not in public, as a result they focus their dreams on having their own family and children. and thus finding themselves growing older as single, and being helpless about it, their dreams get shattered in front of them every single day.

I personally believe that a single parent is better than a no parent, and while Suhair encouraged courageously allowing single women to get custody of abandoned babies, I do encourage to expand it for single men as well who didnt get married for any reason. Ofcourse constraints to guraantee the sanity of the person and his/her behaviour should be applied with great care.

هيا و ليلى و حواء و آدم

انا ايضا شعرت بالأئارة عند قراءتي الأسطوة اليهوية عن امرأة آدم الاولى ليليث. ليلى يبدو لي اسما اقرب لحقيقتها و لواقعي العربي. لكنني لم استغرب كثيرا لوجود ليلى, لأن ليلى موجودة دائما في كل امرأة اخره. دائما عند وجود آدم و حواء فهنالك حتما ليلى في الصورة , حتى لو كانت ليلى من نسج الخيال, لكنها تبقى موجودة في عقل ووعي كل حواء

استوقفني الصراع الجنسي لآدم و ليلى, فآدم كرجل شرقي يؤمن بتفوقه الجنسي, فالرجل رجل, هو رب الأسرة و الآم الناهي, هو سي سيد, اوامره يجب ان تطاع و رغباته هي واجبات على امرأته تحقيقها. اعجبتنى ليلى لتصديها له, لم ترضى ان تكون تابعا, و كيف ترضى و قد خلقهما الله متساويين؟ الاثنين خلقا من تراب و الاثنين خلقا بنفس الوقت, فلماذا يدعي آدم التفوق؟

طبعا كلنا يعرف انه في الخمسة آلاف السنة الماضية تغير النظام الكوني من النظام الأموي الى النظام الأبوي. آدم انتصر لكل الرجال, انتصر لبني جنسه, و محى ليلى من الوجود, اوجد حواء في المقابل. المرأة التي خلقت من بعده, المرأة التي خلقت من ضلعه, المرأة التابعه و المطيعه. ليلى اصبحت اسطورة, اصبحت وهما يصلح فقط كاداة ترهيب و تهديد لحواء عند خروجها عن طاعه آدم

أسست ليلى و حواء القالب لكل نساء العالم. المرأة ذكية, و تعرف قوانين اللعبة. وجه ليلى مطلوب كوجه حواء. أنا نفسي اتحول عند الضروره. اصبح ليلى لايقاع آدم في حبي, اظهر حواء لضمان جوازه لي. اللعبه ليست سهلة, فعندما البس حواء, تظهر ليلى في امرأة اخرى لتخطف قلب رجلى, وعندما اكون ليلى, تظهر حواء و تختطفه ايضا

اللعبة صعبة, وقدري ان اعيش بين ليلى و حواء, فالمرأة لم يكتب لها مصارعة الرجل فقط, بل ايضا بنات جنسها! ليس غريبا ان تكون الأفعى انثى في اللغة العربية

مع حبي,

Pulp Magazine: The Gender issue

After Pulp Magazine’s January excellent Internet issue where they interviewed people behind Toot along with Roba (AndFarAway) and Naseem (The Black Iris), they deliver another excellent issue this month with the focus on Gender issues.

It is February, the month of Valentine, and while most of the other magazines concentrated on dating and love tips, Pulp decided to drop all the red aside, and face courageously some of the many issues regarding Gender in the Jordanian society.

Starting with a heart wrenching article titled ‘Dishonored’ for an American woman coming to Amman for studying Arabic language, and describing her experience with a taxi driver whom kidnapped and sexually assaulted her in a deserted place just outside of Amman. This article should be read by every Jordanian woman. Sexual repressed predators are out there in our streets, and you ladies ought to be careful and learn how to defend yourselves. The article didn’t mention if the police managed to catch the assulter. I wish they do and give him what he deserves.

Another good written article was based on Jordanian honor killings. A subject that have gathered a lot of public and media atthention in the past couple of years and where a lot of people are fighting against it. Still, honor crimes are happening in Jordan. The writer claims that Jordanian’s are now associated more with honor crimes in the global community rather than with Petra for instance. That should give us an indication of how bad the situation is.

Then there is another good article about gay muslims. Obviously muslims around the world who are becoming more and more aware of their homosexual identity are trying to find a common ground between their own sexuality and belief. For a lot, it is an impossible equation, but for others who refuse to let go of either identity, their only hope lies in re-interpreting the Quran in a better gay friendly way. Some people are working on it. Let’s wait and see their result.

I am just a bit surprised of how Pulp managed to pass cencorship on sexual issues regarding homosexuals, because as far as I remember last time when VIVA Magazine tried to address homosexuality, it got pulled and re-issued after cutting that piece.

The last excellend article that caught my attention is the one based on Adam and Eve’s story, trying to interpret the Jews, Christian and Islamic aspect of the story and its base as a mean for Gender inequality. What I found interested the most is what I have heard for the first time of having another woman before Eve! According to Pulp, and based on a Jews legend, Adam had another woman named Lilith. Lilith was a more equal female figure to Adam than Eve. I am not sure what happened exactly, but Lilith refused to abide by Adam’s rules and ended up leaving him. After sometime, and feeling lonely in Eden, Adam begged God to bring him another woman, and so God created Eve for him. Lilith ended up demonized and then forgotten!

I really wonder why this chunck of the story is ignored? Why isn’t it mentioned in the bible? and what is the real story of Lilith?

How in the hell males managed to kill the female equality symbol and managed to brainwash their females of being a second class citizen for ages?

I guess that Lilith didn’t die yet. She is alive as ever, and is coming back to haunt you Adam.

The reality of my observations

That is what I call myself
or at least, that is what I think of myself
believing that I ‘observe’ well
depending on my input devices
Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste
and my processor (brain)
and operating system (DNA? anyone)
and data resided in my memory

But then my data is mostly based on others output
Millions of other machines
Some still alive, and others passed away
Machines that are just as robust as mine
and with a good chance of a certain defect in their own systems
that would generate some inaccurate data
which end up as food to my own system

With time, and with more and more data getting into my processor
along with different algorithms added
One would expect a clearer view of life
In reality, what happens is that:
The more data I get, things become more vague

I discovered a huge bug in my classification algorithm of
trusted vs mistrusted data
and as a result
my sealed box of trusted data
that was built in my childhood
Got raped
and I found out
that a lot of my trusted data turned out to be fake

as a result,
I tried over and over again to enhance my classification algorithm
I replaced religion’s parameters with scientific ones
And moved my trust from the words of holy books
to the word of scientists
and their more advanced input/processing/operating/output system

but then again, what if my current alogrithm still buggy?
and my trust is built all over again on a shaky ground
What if the earth turns out to be flat again?
and the vastness of the universe turns out to be mis-interpreted data?
What if man walking on the moon turned out to be a big lie?
*We are known of being liar creatures after all, aren’t we?*
and it is 7 blue skies with an old man sitting over there

What if it is an old woman? or a young girl?
Surrounding our earth and giving fake data for our scientists’ amuse?

What if it is all an illusion, and my words to you are just
a lame game
where you are not for real
and the reactions I get
are only closely studied data to form my delusional world?

Do I observe? Do I know anything?
Sounds not to me
or am I going insane?

Thunder of love covering the void

A glossy heart met sparkled eyes
Beauty stood in awe
Joy and happiness filled the space
and silence took over
Anticipating the thunder of our love

Closer we came togather
Lips locked
Ecstasy drove Cupid insane
Celebrating the quality of his achievment
and then
light grew from the head of candles
covering all over the world
in a sacred moment
Worshipping our love

Hands touched
Fingers rest between each other
Each next to his parnter
and the blue blood of love
issued an electrical beam
originated from our noble souls
to hit the shaken kingdom in the sky

We sit on a rock
Four eyes in line with each other
With the bless of heavens
casting a light of dreams
far into the horizon
Knowing that
with a blessful present
two Gods
who own the world
with their love
Are looking forward
to step on the road of time
and leave a mark of love with each step

Marks that outlines their love story
in RED
for the world to celebrate

Happy Valentine

A man got his daughter married to a Nabulsi!

A man got his daughter married to a Nabulsi. He warned her, if your husband asks you to turn around, come directly and tell me.

For days, the father kept on asking his daughter whether her husband asked her to turn around or not, and she alway replied negatively. But one day and after few months, she ran to her father and told him that her husband asked her to turn around.

Her father went mad on her husband, he cursed him and ran to punish him. When he reached the husband, he asked him what the hell have you done? Why do you ask my daughter to turn around.

The husband answered, it is time to make a baby!

My father told me this joke this morning which demonstrates how different is the arabic heritage local model of defining sexual acts from the western model which, like a lot of other imported definitions, has dominated the minds of our current generation.

To understand the joke, I have to make some clarification. ‘Nabulsi’ is a reference to people of Nablus, a big city in the west bank. In the common street talk, people of Nablus are famous for their homosexual behaviour. People wink that a Nabulsi is a boy lover. But in the arab culture, homosexuality is an imported definition. Our ancestors have concentrated on defining the sexual acts rather than the sexual attraction/orientation, and thus sodomy (anal sex) is more appropriate in this context and has been the used definition of gay people and other people who engage in anal sex in arabia.

The arabic word for sodomy is ‘Luti’ (in reference to Prophet Lut’s people. A Luti is a man engaged in anal sex activity regardless if it is with another man or another woman. There is no real distinction about the sexual partners, the distinction in the Arab culture is about the sexual act.

While our ancestors were more specific in describing things at a time we built a huge civilisation where science was highly respected, and detiail descriptions were demanded, our current generation of people tend to blur definitions and group things togather where the definition of a Luti became an alternative of homosexual because both a Luti and a homosexual engage in anal sex.

As a result, the sexual orientation of the Nabulsi man in the joke isn’t clear. The father is not worried that his son-in-law would get engaged in sex with another man. He is just worried that his son-in-law would have anal sex with his daughter. He didn’t define clearly to his daughter what ‘turn around’ means. Obviously his daughter turned around her back to her husband since their first sex without realizing that this is what her father warned her off. When her husband asked her to ‘turn around’ to have normal sex, she ran to her father.

It is not uncommon for local people not to accept the term homosexuality as of men who have same sex attraction, for most arabs it is the sexual act itself that matters. If a man prefers anal sex, then it doen’t matter what is the sex of the receptive end. Having anal sex with someone’s wife maybe a solution for many gay men in the mindset of the arab people, while in fact for gay men, it isn’t a matter of loving the butt, it is a matter of sexual attraction and their preference to be in bed with a masculine man rather than a feminine woman.

The eye of a needle and being rich

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24)

This phrase in the bible is one of the most phrases that refused to enter my heart in my childhood. While I never considered my family to be a rich one, the whole idea of Jesus descriminating and generalizing against rich people felt against his nature for me. Subconsciously I never absorbed it, and consciously I tried always to justify it by what he said next:

“Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18:26). And Jesus replied, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

Things which are impossible with men are possible with God? So that means that no matter how much it is hard for a man to be saved, God can always do it, and thus everyone can end up in heaven.

The eye of a needle stayed at the back of my mind till few days ago when suddenly it crossed my thoughts path, and while re-thinking again that phrase of Jesus, I decided to Google it in order to get the phrase literally as it has been written in the bible in order to quote it here for discussion.

To my surprise, and maybe *someone* wanted to reveal something for me. A big interesting surprise has been waiting for me. For some scholars, they believe that the eye of the needle IS NOT what I have literally taken before as being the eye of the needle of sewing, in fact, it may most probably has been a small gate at the entrance of Jerusalem.

“When the city-keepers had locked the main gates, camels and their owners who arrived after hours could squeeze through this gate.”

Which may be explained that camels can enter the eye of the needle if they let go of their baggage. ie, Rich people can enter heaven if they don’t keep themselves too much attached to their material properties.

That is an impressive interpretation to that phrase that kept me in owe, thinking of how much people can up with different interpretation for a supposed holy phrases. It made me wonder that even if those holy books are the words of God, how much of it do God followers get precisely? and how much would it easy if they just take the core of love and apply it to their lives instead of following verses that can easily be mis-interpreted?

Fadi contemplating destiny

While Fadi was sitting in the garden next to an apple tree, relaxing in a sunny day and contemplating life. Suddenly, his sight caught a red appealing apple just a little bit away of his full length hand. The red apple image resided in his memory as a tasty good food poppped up to his head, and without even making a conscious decision, some chemical reaction took place in his brain according to the data at hand, and a neural signal got transmitted to his body to move slightly so that his hand can pick up that apple. Unlike Newton who discovered the law of gravity when an apple hit the ground infront of him, Fadi, starting forming a perception of how this world works – as if we, human beings, being destined with no real choices.

To him, his brain tried to reason his moves to eat that apple. He has a sight sense that he never chose. He had this taste sense he never picked. His taste sense labelled the taste of a red apple to be good and saved it in his memory that he didn’t pick either. His memory still works fine, and it was easy for him to remember that apples taste good, otherwise, it would have taken him much more time to decide whether to pick that apple and eat it or not.

Now that he finished his apple, he looked at the horizon and asked himself: how decisions are really made? Reading some scientific stuff before, and remembering how scientists explain that the triggering of neural signals is a result of a chemical reactions in brain. Remembering his chemistry class, and the nature of chemical reactions, he tried to figure out the left hand side of the equation of the reaction which took place in order for him to decide to pick that apple. i e. He tried to list all the factors that helped getting to this result.

While examining the factors, he realized that each single one of them was a result of a previous reaction and each previous reaction was a result of another previous one. It is a chain of reactions that goes back to what scientists call now the big bang.

From some memory rooms in his head, he remembered that there is a scientific law for conservation of energy, it says: Energy can not be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. His brain cells worked, and he concluded that if the world is one entity, then there should be no energy coming in or going out of this world, and thus if God and souls exists, they are either energy that are part of this world, or a spiritual beings that has no effect on this world.

Maybe God have planned and set it all, and now the movie is running. Our souls are the eyes of God that witnesses how our lives are going. Everything is set and done since the dawn of time, the chain reaction is going, and we are witnessing where it is heading.

Fadi, amused by his conclusion, he wanted to share it with other people he knows. He knew that they wouldn’t like the idea of them realizing not having the power to really decide what goes on in their lives. He knew that they would say that if that is, then it is okay for us to go lazy, and it is okay for us to kill and steal because we are destined to do it.

He stops for a moment, then tell them, no dears, you are not destined for that. Each one of you is destined for a certain thing, and life will unfold that for him. Just open your eyes and observe it coming.