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Topless trans man features on cover of Arabic gay magazine

Topless trans man features on cover of Arabic gay magazine

The September/October issue of My.Kali

The new issue of groundbreaking LGBTI magazine My.Kali features bold images of a trans man on its cover.

Jordanian gay advocate, Khalid ‘Kali’ Abdel-Hadi founded and publishes My.Kali.

The English language version of webzine My.Kali launched online in 2007. It began publishing an Arabic version in 2016. This action promoted widespread attention and criticism in the Middle East.

However, as the title is online only, it does not have to register with Jordanian authorities. This is a requisite for all print publications in the region. This means My.Kali largely escapes censure by local authorities, who have stated a printed version would lead to prosecution.

Boosting trans representation

The new issue will be available online from 27 September. It features two covers, each featuring a trans man simply referred to as Rashed. Although the publication has featured a trans woman on the cover before, this is the first time it has featured a trans man.

Khalid Abdel-Hadi told Gay Star News a desire to bring accurate representation to the Middle East was the motivation behind the cover.

‘One major issue the LGBT community faces in the MENA [Middle East North Africa] region is misrepresentation by local media.

‘Dehumanizing and sensationalist stories that dehumanize us as a community lie at one end of the spectrum, and the lack of acknowledgement or of objective/neutral stories lie at the other.

‘A second and related issue is the lack of personal stories of lived experience. This is why Rashed’s story is so significant!

‘We believe that the trans community is the least heard, the least reflected, and the most needed of attention. We also believe that the courage he showed in sharing his story will bring hope, positivity, and awareness to the issue: We are proud to project Rashed’s voice.’


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‘Trans people kept behind-the-scenes’

Fadi Zumot, the stylist/designer of Rashed’s shoot, said, shooting him topless was important.

‘Trans people are almost always kept behind-the-scenes, dismissed as “not marketable” or “too controversial.”

‘We wanted to show the support we have for each other. Because we know that it hurts to see our creativity praised while our bodies are co-opted and full selves disregarded in the media. It’s time we focused on the body in itself.

‘We wanted to emphasize that Rashed’s transition allows his bust to now be shown freely because he falls into the binary, and the irony of the media politics!’

Many media will allow images of men’s nipples but not women’s nipples.

Musa Al Shadidi, who wrote the Rashed story, echoed this view.

‘To love your body is a struggle in a world that insists on you being ugly, undesirable and perverse!

‘To recover the ownership of your body is a mythical work that must be highlighted, and for Rashed to own his body despite all the difficult circumstances that he went through and telling me so while smiling, as if it all happened to him in a dream, a dream he woke up from winning!’

LGBTI rights in Jordan

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Jordan.

In 2014, the country’s highest court allowed a transsexual woman to change her legal name and gender to female after she provided medical reports from Australia detailing her gender reassignment treatment. However, in April of this year, the Jordanian Parliament passed a law banning local doctors from performing what it deemed ‘sex change’ operations.

Societal attitudes towards LGBTI rights are largely discriminatory. A 2013 Pew Research study found 97% of those polled in Jordan claimed ‘Homosexuality should not be tolerated.’

The new issue of My.Kali will be available online from 27 September.

See also

Outrage in Middle East as gay magazine is published in Arabic for first time

Gay Syrian recounts two-year long sexual abuse ordeal when he was 13