Original Article: bbc.in/13GlJmW
Growing up in Iran, Donya kept her hair shaved or short, and wore caps instead of headscarves. She went to a doctor for help to stop her period.
"I was so young and I didn’t really understand myself," she says. "I thought if I could stop getting my periods, I would be more masculine."
If police officers asked for her ID and noticed she was a girl, she says, they would reproach her: "Why are you like this? Go and change your gender."
This became her ambition. "I was under so much pressure that I wanted to change my gender as soon as possible," she says.
For seven years Donya had hormone treatment. Her voice became deeper, and she grew facial hair. But when doctors proposed surgery, she spoke to friends who had been through it and experienced "lots of problems". She began to question whether it was right for her.
"I didn’t have easy access to the internet – lots of websites are blocked. I started to research with the help of some friends who were in Sweden and Norway," she says.
"I got to know myself better… I accepted that I was a lesbian and I was happy with that."
But living in Iran as an openly gay man or woman is impossible. Donya, now 33, fled to Turkey with her son from a brief marriage, and then to Canada, where they were granted asylum.
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