The Egyptian girl who became a Scottish man

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Media caption“It’s just a soul in a different body.” This is how 26-year-old Adam describes being transgender

Somewhere in Egypt in 1991 a girl was born. This girl no longer exists. But far away in Glasgow, there is a Scottish man who does not have a birth certificate. This man is called Adam.

"It is a soul in a different body" Adam says.

"Whenever you move your hand it's moving in the mirror," he says.

"Whenever you do anything with your face, you can see that in the mirror.

"So it's obviously you. But it's not you because it doesn't look like you."

Adam, who is playing the lead role in a play about his reassignment story, describes the gender dysphoria he suffered as a child.

Adam - Made in Scotland showcase Image copyright Andy Bell
Image caption Adam plays himself in the lead role of a play at the Edinburgh Fringe

Adam was bullied and harassed in Egypt for wanting to be like the boys.

He says he was lucky because "they can torture, they can kill for that, because you are not 'normal'."

Although Egypt is a particularly conservative society, it has been able to legally accept some people with new genders after surgery, but many have not.

According to Scott Long, a human rights activist working on international LGBT issues, "doctors who perform the surgeries [in Egypt] are themselves sometimes subjected to criminal penalties, or professionally punished by the Doctors' Syndicate".

Trans people who try to live in their experienced gender can be arrested - sometimes for "fraud" or creating "public scandal", Mr Long says.

Adam gave himself his current name at the age of 14, but in secret.

"I never bought a doll and I always wanted guns and wanted to play with the boys," says Adam as he thinks back to his childhood in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

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Adam left home at 19 and travelled to the UK on a tourist visa. The day he landed, he shaved his head.

When the visa ran out he went 'underground', working illegally to make money.

Adam was young and desperate to be the man he knew he was but didn't know where to go.

It was not until someone suggested that he claim asylum as a gender refugee, that he found a way to live legally in the UK and be officially male.

He put in a claim.

PART 2 - Scotland

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Sent to Glasgow, Adam sat in his room in a tall tower block on the outskirts of the city and waited. He waited months. Adam became severely depressed. He was lonely and missed home.

His asylum application was refused three times. But he appealed each time.

In the UK, the law states that to be legally recognised as their acquired sex, transgender people must obtain a gender recognition certificate.

To obtain this, transgender people must provide medical evidence including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria by a doctor or psychologist who specialises in this area.

This can be very difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to access.

New gender

Transgender people should also prove that they have been living as their new gender for two years.

This can be through change of name deed, style of dress or how the applicant is viewed by others.

Adam had no official name change and wasn't recognised by his Egyptian family as his new gender.

His application for asylum depended on showing that he had a genuine fear of persecution because of his transgender.

And he needed to prove to the law that he was not "Miss Kashmiry" but Mr Adam Kashmiry.

Testosterone for sale

Although gender reassignment is not a requirement, it does aid your claim.

Determined to prove his manliness, he looked online for help. He found testosterone for sale.

Adam stopped eating to save money to pay for the hormone.

Using Youtube videos, he began his own transition treatment.

He became extremely sick. Each area of his body that he injected ballooned and doubled in size.

He became feverish and sometimes couldn't walk.

He did this every week for three months, dreading each moment he would have to inject himself but knew it was the only way.

Seeing how sick Adam was, his GP finally gave in and began to prescribe Adam legal testosterone.

It took two years to win his asylum claim.

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Image caption Doctors took skin from Adam's arm to construct a penis

Now, as a refugee, he has all the same rights as any British citizen and can have gender reassignment.

He has had two operations to construct a penis.

Adam is laughing as he points at the scars and explains how they took skin from his arm and replaced it with skin from his bottom.

He says: "The hair on my butt is not really that long, I don't why the hair is growing wild."

PART 3 - The Finale

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Image caption Adam was bullied and harassed in Egypt for wanting to be like the boys

Playwright Frances Poet and director Cora Bissett are putting on an award-winning play about Adam's life.

The National Theatre of Scotland is showing his story on stage this summer and Adam plays his own part.

A beautiful Scottish woman is at the bar having a drink in the Traverse theatre in Edinburgh.

This is Toni, Adam's wife.

"I didn't know when I first met him and when I found out I didn't really care," Toni says.

"When it first started I was against the play because I thought that being so publicly open about his story would have a negative impact on him.

"I was scared he might get hurt. But watching how passionate he is and watching how people are so inspired by him, I'm so proud of him."

The actor Neshla Caplan plays Egyptian [female] Adam and Scottish Adam plays himself.

The play features a choir of 120 people from around the world, all of whom are transgender like Adam.

"It's not just Adam's story. It's many people's story" says Toni.


When asked what he misses about home, Adam replies "The sea, the food and my family."

Although his mother struggled with the concept of his gender transition in the beginning, she has accepted him now as her son and still loves him as she always has.

But, Adam hasn't seen his mum for seven years, because he can't travel to Egypt, as it was the country from which he sought asylum.

Adam and Toni are saving up to travel to meet his mum in another country. Adam would finally hug his mother as a son and not as the daughter he once was.

Adam is being performed as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase 2017 at the Edinburgh Fringe until 27 August and then touring to Stirling and Glasgow until 16 September 2017.

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