Robin Hammond

Beruit, Lebanon

Shirine, 45, from Aleppo. She describes herself as a woman who used to be a man. The first time she was arrested was in 1993. 'The police came to my house to take me. Someone told them I was gay. A friend of mine, who they had arrested.' She has been arrested four times in total in Aleppo while it was under control of the Assad Regime for 'homosexuality' spending a few months in jail each time: four months, nine months, four months, six months. The last time she was arrested was in 1999. Humiliation by soldiers in the prison was common. During the second arrest she was raped: she was being beaten in prison with an electric cable by her torturer who said 'How do you suck a dick?' she says, 'so, he took it out and said 'show me how you do it? This is your salvation – you will be under my protection, no one will touch you.' 'Because of these arrests, my family rejected me totally. After a time, I got tired of the judgments, so I decided to come like this, to be a woman'. 'I avoided the judgment of society this way'. In September 2005 she had reassignment surgery in Syria. After the death of her father she started receiving threats from her brother. She found out that he wanted her dead. She comes from a very conservative family she says. She has faced discrimination because of her identity most of her life. This escalated considerably when The Free Syrian Army took over her neighbourhood in Aleppo. 'The first thing they (the Free Syrian Army) said when they took over the area is that they would destroy the house of Shireen'. Shireen's boyfriend was Christian she is Muslim and transgender 'they considered it the house of sin'. 'They (the Free Syrian Army) made me cover my hair before they would come in house. They then checked the house. They told me that if I stayed they would not be responsible for my safety. I knew that meant that if I was to stay they will turn me into a Shawarma (they will rape me and discover who I am, then they will kill me). If I wanted to die

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Robin Hammond
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