Whenever protests are planned and the Egyptian tanks roll into Cairo’s main squares, Mariam takes a longer route to work, the one that avoids the police checkpoints. Her ID carries the name she was born with (a boy’s name) and a number that signals her original gender (male). These details are not easily changed, and they could get her arrested.
“Last time I got stopped, I panicked and pretended I was going to a fancy-dress party. The officers made fun of me but it worked and they let me go,” she says. The policemen ridiculed her for a bit, and called her names, but she played along and once they got bored they let her pass. With dozens of members of the LGBT community in prison on so-called charges of “debauchery”, she does not want to risk it again.
Being gay or transgender is not illegal in Egypt but since the military pushed out the unpopular Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in the summer of 2013, the country has been engaged in a fierce crackdown. Human rights workers say at least 150 LGBT people have been arrested. Read More