Kurdistan Region’s transgender sex workers: From hell at home to damnation on the streets

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11/21/2023

As night falls, Bewar*, a transgender sex worker, puts on her makeup and hairpiece and starts roaming the streets of Sarchinar in Sulaimani, trying to escape the eyes of the police while she offers sexual favors to potentially dangerous strangers in their cars in exchange for chump change, seeking to survive another day in a world that has rejected her from day one. Publicly identifying as any sexual orientation or gender identity other than straight and cisgender in a Kurdish society puts one at risk of either being killed in the name of honor or disowned, exiled, and condemned to a life of endless persecution on the streets. Growing up in a small conservative town in the Kurdistan Region, Bewar was immediately rejected by her family and outcast by her schoolmates for exhibiting stereotypically feminine characteristics from an early age and subjected to a great deal of abuse and physical violence for “ruining the family’s reputation.”

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