Rabat – Flailing punches, broken teeth, and boiling coffee being thrown at her, is how Mala Badi a Moroccan transgender activist remembers one of her least favorite Ramadan meals.
Her mom screamed and tried to stop her male family members from beating her after her confession, somehow giving Mala the impression that she knew all along.
Mala Badi, born by the name Hamza, was kicked out of her home after revealing to her family that she identifies as a woman, rather than the sex she was born.
She recalls realizing her transgender identity in the Huffington Post saying, “When I was 15 and first found a group of gay and transgender friends, I was swept away by a deep feeling of joy, and was finally able to accept myself for who I was. There in a private house, away from my classmates and even from God, I no longer thought I was the only ‘deviant’ in the world. I could wear women’s clothes and dance like Ruby, the seductive Egyptian singer.”
She continued, “It was the first place I had put on lipstick since I was a little girl and went rummaging secretly through my mother’s make-up box and the clothes she kept for special occasions. I would put on the dress she wore to weddings and some red lipstick, then promenade around the house like a princess for a few minutes before taking off her clothes and rubbing my lips with water, knowing that she was going to return very soon.”
Shortly before being kicked out of her home for revealing her identity, Mala began getting involved in LGBTQ activism in Morocco. She found herself performing demonstrations at the February 20th movement, and asserting her gender and sexuality publicly and more frequently.
Mala remembers time after the Arab Spring as a time of change. She says, “During that time, I was busy thinking about revolution and liberation. I noticed other gays also taking part in the marches, some whom I had seen secretly in the parks—some of whom I had even slept with. I was proud of them as they were fighting for change and embodied the ‘natural gay’ as I imagined it, through their appearances and their commitment to political change.”
After pondering further about her identity she finally came out to her family, which resulted in her being kicked out and homeless for a short period of time.
Mala explains, “That is when I decided to declare myself to my family. And so I did, before finding myself sleeping on damp pieces of cardboard with only the sky as a blanket. I would start my day singing the songs of the spellbinding singer Fairuz and reading a book by transgender advocate Sylvia Rivera I had just found in a rubbish dump.”
Somehow, months after Mala is still expressing her transgender identity when she feels like doing so. Never backing down, fearlessly showing her true self to those around her. Since then she has not been beaten for doing so she claims.
Whether this is a sign of changing societal perceptions of gender and sexuality in Morocco cannot be determined from this single brave individual; however, one might infer and even hope so.