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Forced to Live as a Girl is Damaging Me, Help!

07 June, 2022
Q Hello, my parents are both Muslim and extremely strict about Islamic teaching but they let their cultural views also take over. I am a transgender male and I hope to transition from female (the sex which I was assigned at birth) to male as soon as possible because being stuck, forced to live as a girl and having to identify with what I am not is damaging my mental health and slowly killing me. Next week, I am planning to run away from home after coming out to my parents via a letter. I do not want to hurt them but I don't want to risk any danger coming to me if they are not accepting.

My parents are loving and kind, however, I am scared that they are too religious to love and accept me. Before this is thought to be a phase, I have felt this way and known I was a male since I was at least 11 or 12, and even questioned my gender identity before that. I don't know is transgenderism is acceptable in Islam but have seen a lot of controversy over it and my entire family seems to be homophobic. I am planning to stay with friends for the rest of the summer if my parents disown me, but I am absolutely terrified.

I don't want to be a burden to anyone but I don't know what I can do in the long-term because I have school, none of my job applications are being looked at, I love my family so much and I don't want to lose them. I am no longer a believer myself, at least I'm not a very good Muslim, and I can't bear to lose my parents and siblings. I have told myself that if worst comes to worst I will kill myself, even if it is haram. If someone can answer this as soon as possible, please. What is the ruling in Islam on this, can my parents disown me?

Answer

In this counseling answer:

I kindly ask that you seek counseling to help guide you through what you are feeling and to help give you a sense of direction. As you are depressed and talked of suicidal ideation, please do seek counseling as soon as possible.

I kindly suggest that in addition to counseling you get a complete physical exam. Be sure to tell the doctor what you have been feeling since you were a pre-teen.


As-salamu alaykum,

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Thank you for writing to us. I am so sorry to hear about all that you are going through.  I can imagine what you are feeling is extremely overwhelming right now. Please do take some time to breathe deep, relax your mind at look at your situation from a different perspective.

This is a very emotionally charged time in your life right now and I kindly ask you to please insha’Allah know that it will be resolved one way or another eventually. This is a test and a trial and I am confident you are strong enough to get through it.  Have patience with yourself, with life and with the process. Please do not run away, do not harm yourself, insha’Allah, give yourself the opportunity to address this in a mature and knowledgeable way.

First of all, you do not have to tell your parents right now what is going on if you fear harm from them. I understand you love them very much as wish to tell them what you have been suffering through as they are close to your heart.  I do recommend that you talk with someone who can help.

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I am not sure if you have sought out counseling in regards to gender change or in regards to the turmoil you have been enduring.  If you have not, I kindly ask that you seek counseling to help guide you through what you are feeling and to help give you a sense of direction.  As you are depressed and talked of suicidal ideation, please do seek counseling as soon as possible.


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I would also ask that you write a contract stating that you will not harm yourself and that should you feel the urge to commit suicide, you will seek the help of a trusted friend immediately.  This is what you owe to yourself and to those who love you.  In addition to the contract, please call the suicide prevention hotline if you feel like harming yourself (1).

While I am not an Islamic Scholar, I do know that there are genuine cases of medical conditions which can and do cause sex assignment at birth to be an option of the parent. Some medical cases may not even be detected until the child is older.I kindly suggest that in addition to counseling you get a complete physical exam.  Be sure to tell the doctor what you have been feeling since you were a pre-teen.

Insha’Allah they can refer you to a specialist who will do testing to see if indeed there is a medical/hormonal reason as to why you feel you are male.  If no such conditions exist, you may have gender dysphoria which involves “ a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender (2).

In Islam, there are certain conditions such as hermaphrodite that allow a person to change to the sex that they feel they are.

Please do however consult with our “Ask the Scholar” section concerning this situation as I am not an Islamic scholar.  As you know, in Islam randomly changing your sex is not permissible as it is altering what Allah created.  However as stated there are some valid medical reasons wherein it is permissible.

AboutIslam (3) states “A Muslim should be satisfied with the way Allah Almighty has created him or her. If one faces physical or psychological problems, he or she should treat them according to the general values and morals of Islam. In Islam, changing one’s sex is not permissible if the person (male or female) has complete male or female sex organs. This is because this person would be seeking to change Allah’s creation which is forbidden in Islam.

Allah Almighty reports Satan as saying, “… and surely I will command them and they will change Allah’s creation.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:119).

However, it is possible for the hermaphrodites to get assigned a certain sex, by means of medical intervention (surgical and/or hormonal therapy) and behavioral training. When a sex is assigned, the individuals must do their best confirming themselves in that sex.‎” (3).

I kindly ask that you be patient. You are only 16 years old right now, you do not have to make any fast decisions.  Please do pray to Allah regarding this situation and ask Allah for guidance. Allah does love you and is there for you.

This must feel like a lifetime of struggle for you and while I respect how you are feeling, I am asking you to take some more time to explore the possibly reasons as to why. An issue as serious as this deserves some investigation as well as guidance. My heart goes out to you because I cannot imagine how you must feel, only that it must be a painful and scary realization. You do not have to go through this alone and insha’Allah you will seek help from a counselor and imam.

I would kindly suggest that insha’Allah if you still want to go forward with telling your parents that you wait until you have seen a physician, started counseling as well as talked with a trusted and compassionate Islamic scholar or imam about your situation. If and when you do tell your parents you want to have all the information available to discuss with them from both medical and Islamic perspectives.  The more informed you are about your body, feelings and options, the better presentation you can make. You also want to be emotionally stable.

As far as your parents disowning you, a hadith reports “for the severer of ties of kinship will not enter Paradise”  (Muslim 32:6199).

Should you tell your parents, naturally it will be a shock.  As Muslims, of course they will be upset.  However, they are not to disown you.  While they may disapprove of what is happening, they should not disown you as that is a sin as well.  Insha’Allah after the initial shock, they will be able to support you, not from a spiritual perspective but from an emotional one as you are still their child.

Please do give yourself more time to get counseling, have medical tests performed as well as seek the guidance of a trusted, compassionate imam.

Please pray to Allah for guidance in this decision. We wish you the best, please let us know how you are.

  1. Suicide Prevention Hot line https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
  2. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gender-dysphoria/what-is-gender-dysphoria
  3. https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-scholar/morals-manners/community-rejects-transgender-woman/

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

Community Rejects Transgender Woman: What to Do?

I’ve Always Wanted to Be a Girl

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.