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Village Voice: A Muslim daughter became a Christian son

Sent to me by Issa Fazli:

One Pakistani man's personal journey enraged his traditional family

By MARIA LUISA TUCKER, The Village Voice

1931327_64 Issa Fazli says the double whammy of his transformation from a Muslim daughter into a Christian son blew his dad over the top: "He said he would make my life a living hell, and he did a good job of it."

Days before a hearing to determine his status in the U.S., Fazli sat in his New York apartment with a Bible on his knees and read verses from Matthew about the persecution of the faithful. (The hearing was postponed.)

Flashback to 1999: Issa was Fareeha, a thirtysomething Muslim woman and longtime U.S. resident just working her way through school. After a sex-change operation, he grandly renamed himself Issa—the Arabic name for Jesus.

In 2000, living in New York at the time and his sex change complete, Fazli quietly married Saadia Asghar, also Pakistani and also a student at Columbia Teachers' College. Soon after, Fazli says, his parents lured him back to his hometown of Lahore with the promise of a traditional wedding celebration. Instead, the newlyweds were greeted by explosive anger from their powerful and prominent fathers.

Sex changes are more common and more accepted in some Muslim countries than one might think, says Fazli, but his parents were "not gung-ho." At least as big a problem was the couple's conversion to Christianity. Fazli's father, a retired judge and strict Muslim, believed, according to his son, that he "had dishonored the family, spoiled his reputation—in the Eastern sense, been disobedient." What began as a month-long visit to Pakistan turned into four long years of family feuding in the worst way, with some official repression mixed in.

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