Freeizraa / Kuwait
“I was imprisoned for the first time in September 2015, in Kuwait. I was 22 years old. I don’t remember the exact date, however, I do remember that it was a Thursday. And at 10 PM that day, after spending a great time with my partner, a police vehicle stopped my car. That wasn’t the first or the last time for police vehicles to stop me. A police officer approached me that night and asked for my identification card and driving license. He used the male pronouns while talking to me and I, as usual, responded to him with politeness and respect. While I was looking for my IDs, he wasn’t shy to point at my chest and ask whether I did a ‘breast implant surgery’. I was in total shock, I knew that police officer was a bad one and he probably wouldn’t let me go in peace. I didn’t know how to react or what to say, I was smiling at him like a stupid one. I was pretending like I’m not hearing the words that were coming out of his mouth. After I handed him my IDs, he was surprised, and immediately switched to using female pronouns. And as an ignorant Kuwaiti police officers, he started to curse me and calling me with names. Not only that, he asked me to get out of the car and then he started making fun of my tattoos, haircut, my shoes, and my grey leggings. After the verbal abuse and the humiliation, he calls his fellow police officer. I honestly cannot tell if the second police officer was better or worse. The second one kept giving me funny looks full with disgust and despair. And he was whispering prayers to his god. He didn’t say a word to me, he didn’t want anything to do with me so he went back inside the police vehicle. The first police officer was named Mohammed. He started giving me a lecture about gender. He said:
‘If I didn’t see your IDs I would call you Mohammed. Are you Mohammed?’
‘Who is Mohammed?’
‘You see! You are not Mohammed. You are a girl.’
After his impressive efforts in explaining gender to me. I stared blankly at him. I didn’t add any comments and I didn’t object, I am now ashamed to admit that I got scared. I didn’t defend myself and I didn’t even try to educate him or stop his insults. I am ashamed of what I didn’t say that day. I couldn’t stand for myself. The most ironic thing was my shirt, I was wearing a dark blue shirt that says “There are more than two genders.” And because the Kuwaiti police officers mentality and educational level are below zero, both of them, couldn’t or didn’t read my shirt. The words were written in white and they were bold and big, you simply can’t overlook them. Then, he asked me if I was transferred before. You see in Arabic language, the words transfer and transform in English have the same words in Arabic, just one word. And so I misunderstood his question. I thought he was asking me if I have ‘transformed’ my body, in other words, if I was a transgender.
‘Have you ever been transferred?’
‘What do you mean?” No…’
‘Did you get transferred before?’
‘Why would you say that! I just have a short hair. I am still a girl.’
The truth is, as much as I hate labels and names and all the binary nouns. I did in fact define myself as a transgender person to other LGBTIQ people. Sometimes I prefer to introduce myself as genderqueer or non-binary, or even androgynous, or just nothing at all. But I do use the word transgender more often because it is known and more familiar than the other names, and somehow ‘transgender’ word makes others just nod and leave me in peace. Anyways, the police officer said more hurtful comments about my looks again, this time not because he was shocked, he just did it for his personal amusement, you could tell from his facial expressions. This is a typical behaviour from any member of the Kuwaiti society. After that, the real nightmare began. He didn’t let me go, and my mind just froze at the time, I couldn’t think properly. He took away my mobile phone and then he asked me to get inside the police vehicle, in the backseat, like a criminal, and I didn’t resist. Inside the car, a man was sitting next to me, shivering and coughing, huge black circles around his eyes, noticeably skinny, and he looks sleepy or just really tired. And he was a foreigner. While the two police officers were sitting in the front, they started interrogating me, with no privacy given nor respect. I remember I was looking through the window and questioning the reality of what is happening. I kept wondering if I am inside a dream or not. I could not believe that in under an hour my situation can switch from being safe and in love with my partner a lover to a criminal humiliated and defeated in the backseat of a police vehicle. I remember I was feeling cold and my voice got weak while I answered their questions. One of the police officers called his boss through the radio and asked him whether to bring me to him or not.
‘Hello boss, we got ‘imitation of the opposite sex case’ should we bring her over to you, or transfer her immediately?’
‘Imitation… bring her over, bring her.’
When we arrived to a police station, the boss and other police officers were heading to us. You can tell who is the boss, he was the one walking in front of the group and he had more stars and swords hanging on his shoulder. All of them started to look at me through the window with confusion. The boss opened my door and ordered me to step out. After looking closely at every inch of my body and violating my body organs with his looks, from head to toe, he finally spoke:
‘What did you do to yourself! Tell me what is it I’m looking at?’
‘What do you mean? What’s wrong?’
‘Look at yourself! What is this? I can’t tell if you are a girl or a boy. What are these tattoos? Are you kidding me! How old are you?’
Then I found myself begging him to let me go and ask him to just leave me alone so I can go back home. I remember I told him that I wear Hijab and I don’t really look like ‘this’. I even told him about my job and my educational level and my higher studies scholarship. I was trying really hard almost embarrassingly hard to show him how ‘normal’ I was. And I wanted to somehow impress him, I was eager for his approvement. However, I couldn’t manage to erase and swipe out my true self, my gender, whatever that is, he was still convinced that I am imitating the opposite sex because of my appearances. I stood there in the middle of the night broken and hurt. My head was down while the boss started calling for other police officers to come over and have closer looks at me. I didn’t dare to look back at them, It was more than I could bear. I remember on my left side, I saw a person with a beard and tight red shorts and sparkling pink shirt being held by a police officer across the street. I felt blue and helpless. I thought to myself how was that person going to explain their gender, their ‘imitation’?
I was put back again inside the police vehicle while I was silent and didn’t even bother myself or them with asking where they were taking me to. I was defeated and lonesome. I was so hurt that I couldn’t find the right words to say. What was I supposed to say?”