“I have a lot of lucid dreams, that’s kind of what saved my life. Throughout my periods of depression, I sleep during the day, I take naps and I manage to put myself in lucid dream states where I live in parallel worlds. Since I control life, I do what I want.
I came out by text message to my father. I said to him: ‘Listen, I left the house because, I have to tell you, I love Chaima. We decided to go together. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not a problem of education’. I remember telling him that it was God who created me like this, that Islam will always be there. I had to justify to myself that I was a good Muslim and at the same time that it was my choice. Strangely, he reacted well : ‘You will always remain my daughter. Family is important to me, so you will always be my daughter.’
Two years passed and I came out as trans and that’s when he cut ties with me. It was my birthday, I sent another message, a long novel. This time, he didn’t understand anything. He just didn’t understand. I never really blamed him for that. When you leave your country for France and experience racism, you don’t necessarily have time to open up on the question of transidentity. Even as a person who was born in France, I didn’t know that it was possible to be trans. There are feminist people who don’t even understand trans people. I can’t blame him, it’s not like my dad was the minority.
I was born in a Muslim family. My father is a Moroccan immigrant. My mother is French-Algerian. I learned the Quran at school, Arabic lessons in Orly in the outskirts of Paris. My grandparents live in Youssoufia, in a small village near Marrakech. As a child, from very early on at the age of 5, I knew that I was lesbian and even trans. I knew I wanted to be a girl with a beard. I didn’t want to be a man with a capital M. Once again when you’re a dyke it’s complicated, whereas when you’re trans it adds lots of other things that place you at this crossroads of identities.
I think it’s Islam that saved me a little from not getting into heterosexuality. I remember that when I was little, there was this notion of not asking questions about sexuality. But suddenly, it protected me a lot, a lot. I said to myself OK, it’s taboo, I’m going to like the girls secretly in my head and that’s fine. I created fantasies. I used my imagination.
I was really drawn to all the pop culture rockers. I come from the suburbs of Paris, where everyone listened to rap and I listened to rock. I loved the Jonas Brothers. All those guys there who have no codes of masculinity at all. Troy Bolton in High School Musical, Zac Effron, Green Day, Simple Plan. I had no desire at all to correspond to a pure and hard manhood thing. So, inevitably, I went towards hyper white, hyper androgynous figures. In hindsight, it’s funny to think back to how you build yourself around these representations that don’t look like you at all.
I ‘came out’ of the closet of homosexuality, to enter another closet of Islam. At the time, there was no Fatima Daas. I had no references that told me, it’s possible to be a lesbian and a Muslim. Spiritually, it was there, but I didn’t claim it, I put it in a corner of my head.There’s all this shame that tells you that we don’t exist. I told myself I’m not the only one, but I didn’t know it was possible to meet other people like me. I somehow erased my Muslim identity, especially because of racism in France, in school, even in the LGBT community.
When you are a person of color, you have the impression that you have to play the game of assimilating into society. I wanted to fit in, speak well, read the right books. This lead me to eventually forget a little of where I came from. But amongst people of color, we talk loudly, we tell jokes, we say curse words in Arabic without anyone telling you that you are aggressive. If I talk loudly it doesn’t mean I’m attacking you. In my intimate relationships and in the white activist queer community, I was made to feel this a lot. I kept it to myself, I didn’t know how to express it. Why do we censor ourselves like that? We pretend that we include people of color, but at the same time, control their way of speaking. If you ask people to use a certain vocabulary, to speak quietly, to be reserved all the time, well yes, people of color are not there. They want you to have your legs crossed and make yourself very small in a room. Sorry, but I wasn’t brought up like that.
I dream a lot of my father at the moment, I’m afraid of him but I dodge it, but it’s less violent, but it’s less embarrassing than in reality it could be. Part of me resents my dad, in the sense that if I tell you that I’m a Muslim, that I’ve believed in God since I was 5 and know that he created me like that , I’m not crazy, it’s that, I exist somewhere and it’s a shame not to believe it too.”