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Morocco’s Transsexual Community Creates a Collective Body

A traditional transvestite dancer performs in the Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech.

Rabat – After a number of gays and lesbians came out of their shell to demand their rights as citizens of Morocco, a wave of transgenders’ rights campaign followed, demanding the same rights.

Moroccan youth, who identify as a “a group of transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming individuals”, announced the establishment of their own body in a meeting held in Rabat.

This body aims to create a “a new, independent and self-sustaining dynamic, open to all those who are interested in the issues of the transgender community. “

The new Moroccan group wants to fight “against all forms of discrimination,” the group explained, adding its creation comes “in the context of the absence of any will to open a social debate on transsexuality.”

“People are clueless about transsexuality. They think that all gender and sexual identity issues are related to sexual orientation. Because of my feminine behavior, they call me gay. I am not gay. I am not even a man,” explained a transsexual girl, who wished to speak anonymously.

Aside from wanting to spread awareness on transsexuality, the group complained in a press release that it is “deprived” of the right to legal status, hormonal treatment and surgery.

In order for transsexuals to “transition” to their internal sense of gender identity, they undergo hormone intakes and sex reassignment surgery.

“There is no possibility to change one’s sex in Morocco,” a transsexual man told Morocco World News, explaining that he had to go to Spain to receive hormone replacement therapy.

The Moroccan activists complained for not having access to medical treatment in Morocco and for being “discriminated” against by their families and society.

Stigmatization of gay and transsexual community

Despite the 2011 constitution’s commitment to “banish and combat discrimination against any person, by reason of sex, color, creed, culture, social or regional origin, language, disability or any personal circumstances,” homosexuality remains intolerable in Morocco and published under article 489 of the Criminal Code, criminalizing consensual sexual conduct between same-sex adults.

“It is easier for me as a transsexual man to walk in the public sphere. My friend from the US brought me a bandage that I use to cover my breast. I also cut my hair short and dress like a boy. People easily mistake me for a biological male, but my transsexual female friends suffer a lot. I’ve seen them being beaten up and called offensive names,” another transsexual male told Morocco World News.

“Some of my ‘old friends,’ threatened to report me to the police because, telling me that who I am is a sin and should be punished. Despite passing as a boy, I’m always terrified to be recognized for my past gender identity. But I can’t help it, I am a transsexual and this is the only way I can be,” he added.

Mustapha Ramid, Human Rights Minister, has condemned the LGBT community several times.

While he stated that Morocco accepted United Nations’ recommendation to “take urgent measures to repeal the norms that criminalize and stigmatize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons,” his discourse indicates otherwise.

He has called homosexuals “trash” and recently referred to “homosexuality as a violation of human rights. For him, his position is based on “the kingdom’s constitution and its laws and the international conventions it has signed,” as well as the “national consensus,” which “only the perverts deviate from.”

For Aziz Idamine, head of the Moroccan Rights and Freedoms Youth Center, Ramid’s use of these “degrading terms against a minority in Morocco is nothing new to the vocabulary of the minister; he already called journalists ‘traitors’ once and described human rights activists as ‘hateful’.”

“Ramid thinks that being a minister of state of all Moroccans is the same thing as being the leader of a small community or political party.”

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