Home Breaking News ‘I was disowned by my adoptive parents at 15 for being transgender’

‘I was disowned by my adoptive parents at 15 for being transgender’

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Quinnely ZiaEbrahimi, an 18-year-old transgender man of Iranian heritage, has been waiting for more than five years to receive the top surgery he desperately needs. Quinnely has decided to take control of his transition after attending countless vigils and memorials for friends within the trans community. Just last week his friend and his trans brother passed away.

Quinnely says he was disowned at the age of 15 and now has minimal contact with his adoptive parents who he lived with in Kensington, London, for most of his childhood. He told MyLondon he has attempted to take his life seven times and on one occasion was hospitalised as a result, he says that the wider public don’t realise the lack of support many trans youth face.

READ MORE: ‘I’m trans and I’ve waited 3 years for lifesaving NHS treatment – I can’t wait any longer’

On the advice of his University tutors he decided to set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his top surgery. One of the last interactions he had with his trans brother, his chosen family, was a donation he made to the campaign along with the comment: “I’m really glad one of us got there”.

For Quinnely, whose surgery is now scheduled on the same day as an event prior to Iranian New Year celebrating the cleansing of the body and the concept of starting anew, the wait for his transition cannot go on.

He said: “Top surgery to me is more than being comfortable in my own body or aligning with myself, its physical safety, I currently can’t go into men’s changing rooms, go swimming with friends or do whatever the hell I wanted in another country without feeling safe. Even my own family don’t feel safe going swimming with me, not because of the way I dress but because people will immediately notice me and it could put me in danger.

Quinnely has endured years of waiting for his top surgery

“I have to constantly safeguard myself purely because society is behind on its education of trans lives, I can’t live like this, constantly looking over my shoulder.”

Quinnely’s journey to this point began at age 13 when he sent off his first referral to Tavistock gender clinic in London. Since then he has endured years of waiting, conversations about his options and even discussions to prepare him for living as a man in society.

But the practical action and steps to ensure Quinnely receives the surgery he needs was too far on the horizon for him to continue ‘looking over his shoulder.’ He said: “I used fashion to visually communicate how I was feeling, I didn’t have the education or words to articulate those feelings in any other way.

“I thought a lot about manhood and masculinity within a heteronormative lens and by the time I had started the journey to my transition I was solid in my own values of what manhood meant to me and learn that an expression of either masculinity or feminity were not a limiting factor to what being a man is.

“I’ve been able to get to where I have purely because the trans and wider LGBTQ+ community supported me and people, like my brother who is no longer with us, were able to put some extent of their energy into my journey and the journeys of other trans people and other queer youth.”

Quinnely received advice from an older member of the community, who he had met through joining an activism group called Voices For London, which has stuck with him throughout his transition.

Quinnely

Quinnely is of Iranian heritage and was raised by his adoptive parents in Kensington

He was told: “You choose the kind of man you want to be, it’s nothing to do with he, she, they or whatever’s in your pants, what’s important is the values of the kind of man you want to be.”

One member of Quinnely’s network in London helped kickstart his transition, he received a packaged whilst he was stranded in Switzerland whilst holidaying there when lockdown was announced which contained his first course of testosterone.

Though Quinnely was able to find a community in London who could support him, he had been struggling to foster support from his adoptive parents. He said: “I tried to educate my adoptive father who was trying to wrap his head around the transition, I reached out to Mermaids for information and support too. He was not willing in any sense to learn.

“It was frustrating, I needed a deeper contextual understanding of the medical transition and the emotional support I could receive from them. I became angry – everything I did and put out was out of anger, it was a growing burnout and turned to my close circle to let them know

“I couldn’t do this much longer – they saw I was slowly crumbling and falling apart because I wasn’t in a state to continue anymore, I was quite literally burning through all my energy.”

“My mindset at that point was that I could handle my transition by self-medicating for today but tomorrow I seek support and it was only through the community that I ended up being able to find someone that would offer me the means to start my transition.”

For Quinnely, like many transgender youth, the physical characteristics of his body did not correlate with his gender and, in turn, his mental health suffered.

Whilst in Lockdown he was reaching breaking point, he said: “I couldn’t face that I was turning 17, just one year away from starting University and I didn’t look anything like myself – it was sending me into a near state of psychosis. I had to cover all the mirrors and turn off my phone, I couldn’t cope with it.”

From the point he received his testosterone, Quinnely knew he would have to look for a gender clinic to support his transition and so he began ringing up every singe gender clinic in the UK.

Quinnely

Quinnely’s top surgery will take place on the same day as an Iranian celebration of starting anew

He said: “I knew that the Charring Cross clinic Taverstock were planning to send me to was vastly overwhelmed, so I called every Gender Clinic in the country and I asked for waiting times for referrals, some were wild, like four years, whilst others were more like 18 months.

“I stumbled upon Northampton who told me the wait would be just eight months, I thought ‘hell yeah, I’d never heard of a wait time of under a year, so I asked them to sign me up.

“I got given a designated wait for my top surgery of eight months, and I thought it was magical – my capacity of being able to cope with waiting was gone.

“I had started to plan my year, I am my own financial support and planned my whole year around this surgery, however it was delayed, and the hospital told me that the wait had increased to the minimum of a year which was a real blow.

“Part of me was always nervous that something would go wrong so I saved. If I ever had to choose whether to pay for my rent or pay for my surgery, I would always choose the surgery.”

Following the devastating realisation that he could have to wait up to two years for his surgery, Quinnely decided to explore the option of paying privately.

Quinnely's art

Quinnely’s artistic work gave him a medium through which he could articulate his identity

Wait times on the private route reduced from upwards of a year via the NHS to one to two weeks for a consultation and a staggeringly quick two to four weeks for his surgery, for him it was a no-brainer.

Quinnely is now expecting his top surgery on March 15th, a poignant day in the Iranian calendar, a celebration called Nowruz (New Day) five days before the Iranian New Year which plays a significant role in strengthening the ties among peoples based on mutual respect and the ideals of peace and good neighbourliness.

Quinnely said: “The day of my surgery is a day in Iranian culture when you jump over fire to cleanse your body of all the things that have gone wrong in the year before and look to start anew.

“My amazing friend who passed away spoke to me about the significance of that date in my own transition to start anew, so this GoFundMe and that date as a target means a tonne more to me than it ever did as I want to feel that he is there with me.”

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Quinnely added: “I am alive today from the strength I had to persevere, from the energy people invested in me when I had none.”

You can read more about Quinnely’s journey and donate to his GoFundMe here.

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Trainee Reporter – LGBT+ Specialist. Previously worked for Daily Star, The Sun, Brixton Blog and South West Londoner.

Three stories written this month include a in depth interview with LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell ahead of the 50th anniversary of Gay Pride in the UK, an interview with an ex-Lieutenant Commander who had to keep his sexuality a secret in the Armed Forces for 20 years who lost his partner to AIDS two days before he left the Navy and a chat with the founder of The Gay Men’s Dance Company who offer professional training, pole dancing and a dance class in heels.

Got a story? You can reach me at [email protected] or DM me on Twitter @mattlspivey.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/i-disowned-adoptive-parents-15-23122658