A posed portrait of 27 year old, pansexual trans man Dorian. Dorian was assigned female at birth. He grew up feeling alone and pressured to conform to family and societal expectations. As the eldest child in a conservative Indian family he didn’t feel safe to discuss his desire to live as a man. His depression reached such a level that he attempted suicide several times. His parents found out he was seeing a woman and when he was 18 years old his father gave him an ultimatum, stay at home and be the straight woman ‘he should be’, or leave. Dorian left and went to Singapore. He faced constant persecution based on his sexuality including loosing his job in a cafe when his boss saw him being affectionate with a woman. Always impoverished, and sometimes homeless, he was forced to do sex work for money. The first time he met a client, he found that penetration was too painful. He asked the client to stop. The client refused and raped Dorian. He bled for 12 hours afterwards. He was employed at a mechanics workshop. The men there would constantly harass him. He was groped and told that the reason he liked woman was that he had never been penetrated – and that he should allow them to do it for him. While in Singapore he found out it was possible for him to shape his external self to match who he was inside. In Singapore he started his transition by taking hormones in January 2010, and then in September 2014 had a double incision mastectomy (top surgery). Today he lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his partner and their 5 year old son. Feeling so alone growing up has inspired Dorian to become an activist for trans men in Malaysia. To this day his parents and siblings struggle to accept him as the man he is. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. December 2014.   While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change

Dorian /

“Ma,
I know you mist feel like I’m the greatest mistake of your life. Perhaps you wonder why you did not smother me under a pillow as I took my first steps. Or even better, perhaps you wonder why you did not abort me as soon as the first wave of morning sickness came.

After all, why would you feel otherwise? I am a constant source embarrassment for you – an unbearable shame. Perhaps you’re wishing that I just disappeared from the sight and memory of all who know of what I’ve become. you look in shock and horror as I unabashedly that your daughter claims to be a man, a son you did not want to ask for. You would not see that I’ve alway been a son in the disguise of a daughter.

You fearfully dodge, imagined or not, eavesdropping strangers who see  to gossip at every turn about my state of affairs even though it’s none of their business. You have a story to tell each person who asks you what has become of me – a lie to preserve the family honour,
whatever that may be, and to save your own face. And you look up to the sky and ask God why he is testing you like this…why I’ torturing you with my “perverse” behavior…

Let me tell you something ma, you brought me up yourself. You refuse to accept me because what other people think is more important to you than the child you gave birth to and raised. Who are these people anyway? Are you not supposed to love me unconditionally? What have you suffered that you did not being upon yourself?

You never had to starve because of who I am.
You never got kicked out of your home because of who I am.
You never got cut off from everyone you loved because of who I am.
You never got fired because of who I am.
Nobody ever said deregotary things to you because of who I am.People are not uncomfortable around your presence because of who I am.
You never had to sleep on the steps of an apartment because of who I am.
You never have to walk down the street with everyone staring at you because of who I am.
You never have to worry who will sexually assault you next because of who I am.
You never have to walk down the street with everyone staring at you because of who I am.
You never had anyone refuse you a place to stay because of who I am.
You never had to explain yourself because of me.
You never had to face violence because elf me.
You never had to sell your body to have money to eat because of who I am.
You were not removed from everything you know because of who I am.
You were not rejected from society because of who I am.
You did not lose friends because of who I am.
You did not have your identity questioned because of who I am.
You did not have people making fun of you because of who I am.
You never have to wonder if you’ll be invited to your siblings’ weddings because of who I am.
Yo never have to wonder why people hate your for something you can’t change.
You never have to hear people you love lie about you.
You were never chastised for telling the truth & being yourself.

And none of this would have happened to you if you had accepted me. If you had accepted me, none of this would have happened to ME! None of it! And even if some of these things did happen, I would have had the strength of your love to overcome them. But what do I have? What doI have from you, ma, besides your shame?

Nothing at all! Nothing!”

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