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We are condemned to victory: Gandom’s narrative

Introduction: This is the narrative of a Trans* person anonymously called Gandom, whose story was first published on the HarassWatch platform during the first months of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement. It is a fierce and personal yet political narrative showing how a Trans* body is always a political body in Iran due to numerous forms of suppression and limitations. Furthermore, it illustrates how such politicization is the engine for protest in a movement that has never finished. Gandom declares, “No matter how long it takes, we will not rest, and we will find various ways to protest. Woman, Life, Freedom.”


I immediately ran out of my house when I noticed people walking toward Freedom Street. As a Trans* person who has undergone surgery, I might have had more motivation than many other Iranian people to participate in the glorious “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement; but no, the concerns of cisgendered people are as important to me as they are to them. In Freedom Square, the barbaric members of the suppressive forces targeted me and other girls who had gathered there, hitting us with rubber bullets and paintballs. Even after we ran, they continued shooting and shooting, and I could feel the pain of the bullets on me, which was even more painful in the cold weather. Stumbling and crying, I approached a car waiting at a red light. I told the four women inside, “I’ve been shot. Can I get in?” They quickly opened the door, and I got in the car. My head was bleeding, so they put a bandage on it, and they gave me water and chocolate.

Like me, these women had left their houses to come to Freedom Square. Through tears, I told them I would not come out to protest again. While this was not the first time I had been shot at with paintballs, I had only been hit by one the previous time, and I just ran away after it struck my neck. This time, it was a continuous shooting that lasted for several minutes. While I was running away, they kept shooting and shooting, but the blows became less intense on my body as I got further away from the shooting area. I had bodily pain, but I experienced mental pain as well when I thought about how it could even be possible for these creatures to be so wild and barbaric. It is also so painful to see humans hitting innocent people in cold blood. The whole world gets dark, and you wonder—can the people around me become such monsters, too?

During the times that I participated in protests and demonstrations, I witnessed brutal and barbaric scenes of violence by the suppressive forces. I could not believe my eyes; I was heartbroken and wanted to ask them, “But how? What is going on in your head? Aren’t these people your countrymen? What do they want that you are hitting them with such brutality?”
I cried for a few minutes and told myself I would not go out again. But immediately after these minutes, I told myself, “I sacrifice myself for my dear Jina, my dear Nika, my dear Sarina, and boys and girls whose faces are inscribed on my memory.” The physical pain continued, but the mental pain was alleviated a bit by thinking that, when there are people who have paid such big prices, getting hit by some paintballs is embarrassing to compare it to. I decided to come again and will do whatever I can.

It has been [more than] 40 years that the people of Iran have lived through darkness under a ruling system with an anti-human ideology. Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” could represent our tongues well when words fall short of describing the pain. We are tired of temporary hopes and of choosing between bad and worse. As a trans person, all of the problems that non-trans people struggle with apply to me as well—on top of the problems that society brings to me as a trans person. From general problems, such as the economic crisis and our dark future, to the morality police, who mistreat you while arresting you and taking you to a van, and the university guards who look at you like a criminal, tighten your scarf, and nag you about your so-called improper hijab. This country differs in every aspect from the rest of the world and wants to impose a certain way of life on you every day.

The system sees women as the main source of sin. It orders them to stay home and puts thousands of barriers in theirpath in case they want to take a route other than giving birth or being in the kitchen. This ruling system is worse than the common dictator, who is a dictator only in the political participation sector and does not poke his nose into every aspect of your life—from the songs you listen to and the party you attend to the dress you wear—to impose a certain way of living.

But these are general problems shared by everyone. The problems of being trans are added on top of these problems. This is a system that agrees only with a strict binary of woman and man, and anyone who does not fully fit into such binary is considered a criminal and the embodiment of evil. Maybe it was my own choice to align with the woman side of this binary, but I know many trans folks who are not like this. While I experienced such pressures while pursuing surgery, they will struggle with the public sphere, the regime, the law, and other social activities their whole lives: from the minute they leave their houses, they will shake at the sight of every policeman, and when they enter a governmental office or go to a university or hospital. Some people say that the Islamic Republic is doing us a favor by allowing us to get a license to undergo surgery. Apparently, the Islamic Republic has limited our perspective. If a democratic state was in place instead of the Islamic republic, surgery would not be the only way for trans people, and it would not be restricted, so a license would no longer be considered a “favor.”

As a trans person, my childhood, teenage, and young adult years were burned by the Islamic Republic. Spending my childhood in boy’s schools without consulting help was strange and hard. I was all alone. During my teenage years, there was no one to help me, and I constantly fought with my family. I went through the maze of obtaining a surgery license in streets, offices, and corridors that would suffocate me. At the age of 30, my fatigue is like that of a 60-year-old. Maybe all of these pains have accumulated and are now transforming into protests.

Of course, this is the path I have walked. I know many who, from the beginning, were constantly struggling with family and had to flee from home; in the absence of consulting and legal help, they became involuntary sex workers, and they were subjected to mental and physical violence. Humans naturally have two types of support around them: family and the law. However, trans* and other LGBTQ individuals are deprived of the first support due to common rules and traditional beliefs. Meanwhile, the second does not exist under the Islamic republic, where the law is the main danger source. Amid such chaos, yes, in the middle of the Middle East, there is a movement taking shape with the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom”—a civil and very progressive slogan, and a slogan that I am proud of. We are destined to win; there is no other way. No matter how long it takes, we will not rest and will find various ways to protest. Woman, Life, Freedom.

Published by HarassWatch

Translated into English by Tanide