Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is observed annually on the 20th of November, is an opportunity to memorialize the transgender individuals who were murdered by transphobic people. The Transgender Day of Remembrance first happened in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor the memory of Rita Hester who was murdered in 1998. Since that time, transgender people celebrate the day around the world to remember all their victims. Iraq is one of the countries that do not provide any form of support to the LBGT+ community in general. A report that was compiled by IraQueer includes information about the danger that surrounds the Iraqi trans community. Iraq is one of the countries that do not legalize hormone treatments or gender confirmation surgeries which puts the ones who decide to do them in a lot of danger. If the individuals decide to have the surgery outside of Iraq, they will likely face troubles to obtain legal documents that reflect their gender identity. This blog shares one of the most tragic stories about a brave transgender woman named Wurood.
❝My story is extremely sad because all these years I have been tortured and used by many people. I slept on the streets and in the parks back when I did not have a place to stay in, I ate from the garbage cans to stay alive, I was exploited by my relatives both sexually and physically, and I had to have sex with some people in order to get some food or money. I said no sometimes and I had to say yes some other times to keep myself alive and sheltered. Although I am in my home country, I am always scared of people around me because they see me and others like me as guilty and odd people who do not deserve to exist. People give themselves the right to hurt us the way they like, they want to cut our heads off, burn us, and torture us to death. I am an orphan from both sides and my two sisters, who encouraged several people from my tribe to kill me, abandoned me. Based on the tribe’s norms, killing me is considered honor killing which means they have complete freedom to choose the way to kill me without being punished for it. Since I was ten years old, my mother and father used to constantly torture me in different ways. I remember my mother used to throttle me and put a hot spoon or knife on my skin to burn it. If my father was still alive, I would have been dead by now because he would think I bring shame to him and all the family by being myself. Although I got raped and tortured multiple times by different people, I still accept myself this way and I believe that I don’t have any mental issues.
Due to being a transgender person, not being able to find a job is one of my many struggles. I have not worked and it is quite hard for me to build connections and friendships with people. Some people that I get to meet give up on me at some stage while others curse and say a lot of bad words to me the moment they know I am transgender. I still remember how bad my aunt treated me back when I used to live with her. She forced me to cook and clean and do whatever she wanted otherwise I would not get food for that day. I was treated as a slave and at the end, she told me that if I do not sell my kidneys to a doctor she already agreed with, she would kick me out of her house. I said no at first, but that meant I will go back to being homeless. That is why I visited the doctor my aunt told me about and she handed me a paper to sign to give up on multiple parts of my body for twelve million for each. I could not sign it because if I did I would die so I went back to my aunt’s house and literally contacted every NGO that fights for human rights and LGBT+ rights to ask for help. Luckily, a person who I consider to be my guardian angel helped me. Although I am in a safe place now, I can’t feel safe being in Iraq, and I feel like a prisoner who wants to run away. I want to go to a place where I can be myself and say what I have been keeping inside for years. I would not mind even if I leave just for one year and die after that because I really want to take a break from this pain.
Despite all the hatred and judgments that transgender people experience, I believe that they should be able to decide who they are. A person is responsible for his or her sexuality and gender identity and should not give the power to someone else to control or decide that because at the end, each one of us is responsible for ourselves. On this special day, I would like to send my message to all the transgender people and all the LGBT+ community to ask them to trust that God and the universe will give them power to survive with their pure and beautiful souls. There will come a day when they will live peacefully and get the life they dreamed of away from murder and violence. Do not be sad because soon you will find happiness since there are many NGOs that want to protect you. Love yourselves, love each other, and try to protect each other and survive together. Do not commit suicide or hurt yourselves, do not steal or hurt anybody. You are not the bad people others think you are and I wish you all peace and happiness. You, transgender people are the ones with the purest hearts so stay strong and you will see your enemies falling someday while you find happiness and peace.