Mongolia: LGBTI in Mongolia fighting for rights and recognition

Anaraa Nyamdorj has been born thrice. The first time was 40 years ago, in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, when “I was born in a female body”. Nyamdorj says that once he reached the age of 10, he fell into a deep depression that led to a suicide attempt.

“Until then, I didn’t really have an idea of what sex I belonged to. I was always a tomboy, but that didn’t make me wonder about my gender. Then the body changes started and I couldn’t handle it.”

Nyamdorj swallowed sleeping pills and was lucky to lose only 20 hours of his life.

“What really strikes me now about that episode is that nobody asked me why I tried to kill myself. Not the doctors, not even my parents. It was the Soviet era, so I had no information whatsoever about what was happening to me. I didn’t have words to describe my feelings and I didn’t know there were more people like me,” Nyamdorj recalls, explaining that as his teenage years progressed, he started to fall in love with girls. “The boys were my playmates. I beat and roughed them up, but I felt no attraction to them.”

Nyamdorj hid these feelings until he turned 19, when he plucked up the courage to tell one of his elder sisters. “By definition, because I was a woman attracted to other women, I became a lesbian,” he says. “To my surprise, my sister didn’t try to understand me. On the contrary, she stopped talking to me altogether, and still today I don’t exist for her.”

Having moved to India to study law, Nyamdorj began moving in gay circles, but still felt misunderstood (“I didn’t fit into the lesbian mould”). Then, in 2004, he met a transgender man. “I had moved to Japan by then and, when I talked to him, I found out what I was,” says Nyamdorj. “Finally, I could explain what I felt.”

Even so, in 2005, Nyamdorj married another Mongolian woman – in Canada, one of the few countries where same-sex marriage was legal at the time. “But my maleness was grow­ing stronger and stronger,” he says, and he decided to change sex. “My wife couldn’t accept it, but I had chosen love over my instinct for more than seven years and I couldn’t live with it. It was a primary need. Read more via Post Magazine