Non-binary teen explains the torture of coming out to ‘transphobic’ family

Non-binary person rejected by religious family

A non-binary teenager in Scotland has opened up about being branded “disgusting” after coming out to their family.

Mahadeeha Shakoor realised they were gay aged 14, but it wasn’t until they were 18 that they came out to their family – coming out as non-binary at the same time.

But instead of being supported, Shakoor, now 19, was told by their family that they are “disgusting” and “going to hell” – and then kicked out of their family home, just as the coronavirus pandemic enveloped the world.

“Some of my relatives have always been very openly homophobic and transphobic throughout my childhood,” Shakoor told Scottish newspaper The Daily Record.

“They would talk about how disgusting being gay is and how it is a terrible sin,” the added. “That obviously made me feel really uncomfortable and awkward.”

Shakoor grew up Muslim, and relatives used religion as an excuse to be bigoted towards their LGBT+ identity as they grew up. “When I formally came out to my family, one relative repeatedly sent me parts of the Quran about repenting,” they recall.

“I suppressed who I am for years because I knew it would’ve made my life a lot harder,” Shakoor continued. “It was really scary because I didn’t know if anyone in my family would support me. My emotional state was horrific. I started to get really depressed and anxious.

“I wasn’t sleeping and I was having panic attacks over my gender identity and who I might be.”

Non-binary student fundraising for healthcare

Now a college student in Glasgow, where they grew up, Shakoor wants to medically transition. In Scotland, long waiting lists for trans healthcare on the NHS mean that patients wait between 18 months and three years for a first appointment with a specialist.

Although the Scottish government has vowed to address this, announcing two million pounds in “crisis funding” for trans healthcare in December 2021, Shakoor, like many trans people, is fundraising to pay for private trans healthcare.

“Medically transitioning and testosterone are a necessity as I experience a great deal of gender dysphoria every day,” Shakoor explains on their fundraising page. “With all the funds raised here, I intend to start testosterone privately due to the ridiculous waiting times for the gender clinic.

“Mentally I cannot handle waiting another five plus years to start testosterone.”

Last year, another study confirmed that medical transition – including hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries – has a positive impact on the mental health of young trans people.

Researchers at the Trevor Project, a US-based LGBT+ suicide prevention organisation, published their peer-reviewed findings in the Journal of Adolescent Health in December 2021.

They found that trans youth who take gender-affirming hormone therapy are nearly 40 per cent less likely to have been depressed or attempted suicide in the last year compared with trans youth who want hormones but don’t receive them.

The study also found that parental support of a young person’s trans identity plays a strong role in whether or not they can access gender-affirming hormone therapy, with nearly 80 per cent of those on hormones reporting that at least one of their parents supported their gender identity.