TDoR 2022 / 2022 / February / 06 / Hanar


6 Feb 2022
Mariwan, Kurdistan (Iran)


Hanar died by suicide.

MARIWAN, Iran - It was the early hours of February 6, when 28-year-old Sara, a transgender woman from the city of Mariwan in Iran’s western Kurdistan province called her friend Hanar to check up on her. Hanar’s brother answered the phone, telling Sara that Hanar had done what she had said she would do for a long time. She had taken her life.

Screams filled the Mariwan graveyard the next morning as friends and family stood over the grave of Hanar, who was named [deadname] at birth, but decided to go by the name Hanar to better reflect the gender she identified as. It was also the nickname her friends, also transgender, referred to her as.

Sara was the first of the friendship group to find out that Hanar had committed suicide earlier that morning. She wanted to check up on Hanar because she had already expressed her suicidal thoughts to Sara on several occasions.

“She would always tell me about her pain, she did not like men’s clothes and did not want to act like a man, but we could not come out in public because the city is very small,” Sara told Rudaw English, crying over the death of her friend. “She wanted to undergo surgery, but when she asked a religious cleric last year, he told her that the surgery is forbidden in Sunni Islam, and she could not even tell her family about her problems.”

Sara was evidently shaken up as she recalled the amount of times Hanar had asked her to commit suicide together. “She was talking about suicide more during the past few months. She told me ‘if you dare, let us commit suicide together and get out of this pain’, but nothing I told her seemed to have any effect,” Sara added.

At the end of their last encounter on February 5, Sara found it unusual how tightly Hanar had hugged her before leaving. “At around 3 am I gave her a call, but her brother picked up and said she had killed herself and her body was at the hospital,” she said, and just like that, another member of the LGBT+ community had fallen victim to the deeply entrenched cultural and traditional norms of Middle Eastern society.

Despite the Iranian government subsidizing sex reassignment surgeries for transgender people, endorsed by a decree from Iran’s former top Shiite religious authority Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, the process still requires the consent of the person’s family and the approval of specialized physicians.

The decree, however, is not implemented in the Sunni majority areas, mainly located in the predominantly Kurdish-populated western part of the country. As opposed to the cosmopolitan cities of Iran, the transgender community in Kurdish cities confronts a very difficult reality. Many either conceal their true gender identities, or attempt to migrate to more accepting countries where their rights are guaranteed.

Report added: 25 Feb 2022. Last updated: 20 Mar 2022

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