Out on the street, I saw that someone had spray painted “Gay Journalist” in big letters across my car. I felt myself sink down into what would become months of depression.
The guards mentally and physically tortured me. They called me a terrorist, rioter, traitor, jihadi. I wasn’t allowed to brush my teeth or read books, and I could barely sleep in my tiny, filthy, isolated cell.
Batons, sticks, electrical cables, and whips pummeled my thighs, back, shoulder, and face. The blows broke my right hand. My mouth oozed blood, and bruises covered my body. When I begged for my release, they just beat me harder.
This change gives non-binary people visibility, validates us, and shows society that we are not living in confusion. It is an identity all its own. We resist, we exist, and we are people who have family, work, and everyday life.
I ask, “Why am I alive,” when I cannot study, work, or even move about. For 20 years, I have dreamed. Every single second—every moment of my life—I was proud to be a woman in Afghanistan. Now, we are left with nothing but a grim life and dread of the future.
Due to the partition of India, our family was eternally displaced. We lost everything. I have an affinity for refugees who lose their homes due to mindless hate and violence.
I was teased, scorned, and labeled. I was bullied and humiliated in public. My 'friends' reacted in the only way they were taught to: with disgust.
A minor injury and the events that followed almost cost Paula Reggiardo her career.