“People like you are not worthy of living, and you want me to pay your salary?” That is how Alex was fired.
Being in the gray area is not cakewalk. It presents a great challenge. Either we are male or female. No one can force me or anyone else like me to be who they wish us to be. It is impossible to survive in such circumstances. I am not a woman. I am a man. Mother Nature created me different from others. I did not choose this. Why then should I be punished for it?
Although I was born a girl, on the inside, I was never the girl my family expected me to be. I have wished to be a boy ever since I was four or five years old, so I wore boys’ clothes and always had my hair cut short because I having long hair like girls was never my thing. I even behaved like a boy. I talked like a boy, and I was extremely happy whenever someone would call me a tomboy!
As I was growing up, my family disliked the word tomboy even though I was honest with them. I told them that what was growing inside me was not a girl. It was a boy. When I was 11 years old, I used to brag about falling in love with a girl who lived in the same neighborhood as mine.
Thus, the way they spoke to me changed, and they looked at me differently. They started criticizing everything they had laughed about in my childhood, and I became the outcast girl that loved girls. Every time I did something, they would tell me: “You are a girl! Behave like one”. I was not able to be the person I am not, the girl my family wanted me to be. I could not act as one either, which resulted in so many fights at home that I had to leave. I became homeless.
In addition to the refusal of my family, every girl I made friends with ditched me because I had a reputation of being a lesbian and of course because their parents insisted that my company would ruin their reputation. I was not a lesbian because I am not a female. I am transgender, but no one understood. Worse, no one in my surroundings was willing to help me.
I had day-to-day jobs wherever I was accepted because I was continuously being harassed by both employees and employers due to my sexual orientation! No one regarded me as productive and knowledgeable! They even believed that I was unworthy of any work or job just because my sexual orientation was different from theirs. I struggled so much for people to accept me, which drained me. The more I bottled up my feelings and tried to convince myself that I do not need any support from anyone, and that I could live alone, the lonelier I became. I was wrong because everybody is in need of people to love and trust even me.
The years went by so quickly. I had no family to love me, no friends to share my joy and sorrow with, and no permanent job that provided me with a steady income to lead a decent life. I was desperate. Thus, I managed to sell some of my stuff and rent a room for three-months. There was only a mattress in the room which was my only shelter. I ate, sat, and slept in it.
Looking for a job became my daily chore until I found one at the soap factory. At the beginning, I was always asked whether I was a boy or a girl. When they knew the truth, some started to avoid me; others gossiped about me and laughed at me, and some others would address me with hurtful words. Despite all this, I kept silent fearing I would say something that would get me fired, which I could not afford.
Going to work was even a struggle for me. Every day I would convince myself that I can brush off the cruel words and look into their eyes which were more expressive than their words. Nonetheless, enough was enough! The insults I received from my supervisor were the straw that broke the camel’s back. One day, we had a clash. When he started insulting me, I broke my silence to defend myself, and urged him to stop humiliating me every time he saw me. Of course, that was not in my favor, so he complained about me to the factory owner, who, in turn, had no choice but to fire me. When I asked him for my salary, he sniggered and said: “People like you are not worth living, and you want me to pay your salary?”
What wrong have I done to deserve this? Is being proud of my gender identity a mortal sin! How would I be compensated for the innumerable insults and the humiliation my colleagues inflicted upon me just because I did not resemble them!? Is this how human rights are respected at the workplace? Has receiving your salary and having the right to live become a monopoly to certain people?
Once again, my life was threatened. How would I pay for my rent? Who would I resort to for help? I was desperate! My life was a mess! I needed to end it, so I bought three packs of medication and swallowed them all. When dangerous symptoms started to show, I chickened out, so I called my sister who took me to the hospital where I underwent gastric lavage. I was a coward. I did not wish to die.
Now, I am living on the margin, and if it weren’t for some sympathetic people who are offering me some support, I would have been in a dire situation. I am seriously wondering: When will I find the right opportunity in a workplace that looks at my potential rather than my gender identity? How will I achieve my dream of undergoing a gender affirming procedure that transforms me into a man and allows me to confidently go out in public, get employed as a man and live with the woman I love? Is that too much to ask for?
I have no family and no friends. I am forcibly unemployed. I pity myself, my ruthless situation and the society that does not provide me with a decent job. And if I get one, I will lose it again. I am uneducated because my parents who were ashamed of me did not send me to school. I live on practically nothing and I pray to God every day for mercy.
I am Alex. I wish to be called Alex.
This story was documented as part of the “Enhancing the Inclusivity of the LGBTI community in Workplaces in Lebanon” project funded by the European Union and executed by SIDC in partnership with ACTED.