letter to a trans muslim

Dear trans muslim whose genderqueer-ness gives you no easy answers as to where you should stand when salat begins, who feels misplaced in a hijab, who doesn’t want to dress like the other men, and even if you did identify as either a man or woman would you even want to dress like everyone else anyway,

I begin my letter to you with praises to Allah,
Who created the heavens and the earth
And all that is between them;
Who has created the east and the west,
And all that lies between;
Who merges the night into the day,
And the day into the night;
Who created  the male, the female, and the intersex,
And from them many more humans,
Giving to some girls,
To others boys,
To others none,
And to others merges the binary.
Praise be to Allah,
Who says “Be”! and it is,
Who creates whatever Allah wills.
And peace and blessings be upon the Messenger,
Sent to the entirety of humanity as a mercy to all.

My sibling in Islam,
I am not sure how to reassure you that
The burdensome effort to simply survive,
To stay alive one more day is worth it.
I do not know what to tell you when the murder
And suicides and the burying of so many daughters
Is a memory for you that never leaves your body,
The blood of transwomen, transmen, and all our other trans siblings
Staining the hands of the guilty of the world who claim
Their panic caused by someone’s transgendered existence,
to hear trans lungs breathing,
And trans hearts beating
was too much for them.

I don’t know what to tell you
When I know that the names of the innocent,
The names of martyrs to this genocide,
Are forever imprinted in your mind;
When your lips are forever wet
With the remembrance of a suffering
You recite on your prayer rug every night.

I don’t know what to tell you when you tell me,
How much you are afraid to walk through
The doors of the masjid down the street
Because it reminds you of walking through
Security at the airport,
Your entry policed by those
Who would call you a possible threat,
A danger to them and their children.
And you cry and say,
“I was that child once
And who was supposed to protect me
From acknowledging the depths of my humanity?”


I don’t know what to tell you when you tell me
you don’t know what to hide,
When you know that the masks you put on
Are never thick enough,
Because people always see through you,
And on your face is a mirror,
In which people see their fears.

And I still don’t know what to tell you,
When the straight and cisgendered
Don’t want you to pray next to them
Because you’re in the “wrong” room
And that your presence distracts and misguides.
Or how they don’t even say salam to you,
Because the mere acknowledgement of your presence
Would invalidate their self-righteous sense of purity.
Or how bathrooms become a battleground
You did not ask to enter.
I wish the masjid down the street
Would make space for you,
That when they stood up to pray that they filled the gaps
With your inclusion.
I wish there was a piece of carpet at that masjid
For you to place your forehead in sujud.

I can tell you this:
Remember, remember, remember,
As well as you remember the pain,
And the transgender martyrs
Who died on the battleground for their humanity.
Remember, remember, remember,
that Allah said “Be!” and you were created.
That Allah has given us signs, and among these signs
Are those which you find in the farthest horizons
And those which you find within ourselves,
Remember, remember, remember,
That you are a sign, sign, sign
That you are a miracle, miracle, miracle,
That everyone is a miracle when they breathe
And everyone is a miracle when their hearts beat
Including you, including you, including you.
That you are holy,
That you are a revelation,
Like an ayah, a sign in the Qur’an,
And that people should make ablution,
Before they ask to shake your hand,
That they should be in a state of purity
When they try to pronounce your identity.

Remember, remember, remember,
Whenever a Muslim or any other human being,
Says to you “fucking queer,”
Calls you a faggot, calls you a dyke,
Whenever they ask you at the end of a knife
If you are a boy or a girl,
Remember, remember, remember,
That we were, are, and always will be
Here, here, here,
Present, present, present,
Existing among our fellow Muslims
And fellow human beings,
Remember, remember, remember
That the faggots, queers, eunuchs, and hermaphrodites
Have and always have prayed before the Ka’ba,
That mothers used to entrust us with their children
so that they may be blessed in the presence of the Ka’ba.
Remember, remember, remember
with a firm remembrance
that we were also in the Prophet’s house,
that we sat with the Mothers of the believers.
That we spoke to Aisha with her face unveiled.

I end this letter, hoping that you are well, that you find friends who love you and humans who model their lives after our Prophet sent as a mercy. I end with prayer—because for us queers, prayer is, too often than not, the only place left for us whose sacredness makes space for us:

Oh Allah, we seek refuge in you from misguiding others and from being misguided,
From oppressing others and from being oppressed,
And from treating others ignorantly and from being treated ignorantly.

Amin. Amin. Amin.


With much love,

Your queer brother in Islam


About Garrett Kiriakos-Fugate

grad student in Islamic studies, student of architecture, queer, radical moose+lamb, language nerd, folk dancer, musician, lover of books and writing
This entry was posted in poetry, queer + Islam and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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