Perspective From An Out & Proud Arab Transgender Woman

It’s pride month here in DC, and I had the pleasure of attending a pride celebration at the Israeli Embassy. I was fortunate to hear the courageous story of Talleen Abu Hanna and her journey to become the woman she had always been while growing up as a young boy in Nazareth. She just recently won the first Miss Trans Israel beauty pageant in 2016. Her message and journey as a transgender woman focused on three major themes:

  1. Perseverance. Talleen’s message was one of staying true to who you are no matter what the odds may be. Imagine being a young Arab boy growing up in a Christian household? And, the process of trying to rationalize your inner feelings of being a young woman while in the body of a man. Her father had a very difficult time accepting who she was, but her openness and honesty with herself and with her father has helped improve their relationship as father and daughter though the journey to get here has been quite long.  
  2. Humility. She also spoke about how grateful she was to be able to grow up in Israel, an open, democratic society that allowed her to explore her identity without being subject to ideals of extreme hate and even death as is the case in most of the surrounding Arab countries.
  3. Support. Talleen spoke about how important it is for LGBTQ youth to be able to connect with members of the established transgender community as part of building awareness and support. She spoke about how she had no idea what it meant to be transgender until she met a transgender woman who had already transitioned in Tel Aviv. This awareness helped her better understand who she was and what she was experiencing by simply being able to connect and relate to another individual.  

What has been your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community or ally as you try to remain true to who you are? Share you comments below.

 Talleen Abu Hanna speaking at the Israeli Embassy in DC

Talleen Abu Hanna speaking at the Israeli Embassy in DC