Qatari Authorities Forced Transwoman to Remove Breast Tissue After Arrest

Since Qatar won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the conservative Gulf state has received negative attention for its poor treatment of migrant workers and members of the LGBT community.

Although Qatar denies accusations of human rights abuses and says that the government does not discriminate against anybody, many human rights activists and organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, published reports disputing these claims.

Qatar had been criticized worldwide for criminalizing gay sex as the World Cup drew near. Last October, British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was arrested by Qatari authorities for protesting against the horrific abuses committed by Qatar against its LGBT community.

However, the world knew little about the conditions of transgender Qataris until recently, when BBC spoke to two trans-Qataris about the abuse they experienced at the hands of Qatar authorities. 

One of these two transgender Qataris was identified as Shahd. BBC changed her name and the other trans-Qatari they spoke with to protect their identities. Shahd revealed that Qatari authorities arrested and interrogated her for “impersonating a woman.

"I lost my job and my friends," Shahd told BBC about her ordeal. "I was arrested and interrogated several times because of my identity. I lost everything."

She also showed her haircut during a secret interview with the BBC, which was cut into a more masculine style. Shahd then unbuttoned her shirt to show wounds on top of her chest. Shahd told the BBC about authorities forcing her to remove her breast tissue, which had formed since she began taking estrogen.

Shahd also said that she is constantly afraid of being arrested, so she started avoiding crowded places during busy times of the day due to fears that she might be seen and reported. She also described Qatar’s preventive security department as a "gang.

"They capture you and prevent you from telling anyone where you are. The prison is underground, where they treat you like a criminal," Shahd said.

"You will be handcuffed," she added. "This is to protect society from us."

Shahd also revealed that she was forced to undergo “conversion therapy,” and she showed screenshots of her referrals to a therapy center in Doha. A Qatari government official denied that the country operates any “conversion centers.

Another Qatari trans woman named Sara said things got so bad that she was forced to leave Qatar and apply for asylum in Europe. She also told the BBC how she left everything she knew and took only a bag of belongings and a little money.

"I was at my breaking point of either committing suicide or leaving, and I decided to leave," Sara said.

Like Shahd, Sara was also forced to undergo conversion therapy multiple times. But she considers the calls to boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as unproductive.

"Many other countries also have these laws, but people are only calling out Qatar and saying Qatar should not be hosting the World Cup," Sara argued.

A Qatari government official repeated its message that “everyone is welcome” in the country and continued to say that fans "from all walks of life come together in Qatar to build bridges of friendship and break down barriers of misunderstanding."

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