To bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and

To
appreciate the gravity of Adam Kashmiry’s journey to transition, we must first understand
the dire situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and
acceptance in his native Egypt that led him to seek asylum in the United
Kingdom. Islam is the dominant religion in the Middle Eastern nation, and,
characteristic of many other nations in the region, ‘religion has been, and
continues to be deeply intertwined with governance issues’. (Mazur, 2004) The
government’s repression of LGBT rights in Egypt owes ‘largely due to their
understanding of their religious principles’, as there is a widespread
condemnation of homosexuality within the Islamic faith (Mazur, 2004). In
occidental nations where there is a level of governmental secularity, there
tends to be higher levels of LGBT equality, whereas in Egypt homosexuality can
be punishable through debauchery and public morality laws, leading to penalties
of hard labour and prison sentences. Similarly, acceptance of homosexuality is
higher in secular or atheistic people than those who follow a religion,
(Zuckerman, 2009) and the opposite is evidenced in Egypt; 97% of the population
finds religion important in their lives (Pew Research Center, 2008) and 95% say
that ‘homosexuality should be rejected’. (Pew Research Center, 2013) It is
clear that life as a member of the LGBT community is made increasingly
difficult in Egypt as a result of the society’s widespread religious beliefs
that negate the values and experiences of being LGBT.

·        
Transgender rights and
social opinions in Egypt (350)

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Adam: Adam
Kashmiry (1000)

 

Literature
Review (500)

 

To
conduct this study, a range of different research sources have been used.
Numerous academic sources have been used, including books and journals. As the
subject in discussion is contemporary, online sources have also been considered
in order to include up-to-date thought processes and sources regarding the
works analysed.

 

‘Rotterdam’
by Jon Brittain, first performed in London in 2015, is a critically acclaimed
play that won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate
Theatre, after having been the first transgender-themed play to be nominated.
(Masso, 2017) The narrative follows a lesbian couple, Alice and Fiona, as the
latter admits to her partner that she has always identified as a man. It
exhibits how the pair explore gender identity, the transition process, and the
convention of ‘labels’ within their relationship. This essay will explore
Brittain’s process of developing the narrative in response to social
conditions, considering that Brittain himself is not transgender.

 

‘Adam’
and ‘Eve’ were first staged by the National Theatre of Scotland at the
Edinburgh Festival Fringe ‘in a double bill of … plays exploring “two
extraordinary lives in transition”‘. (Allan, 2017) The former, written by
Frances Poet and directed by Cora Bissett, chronicles the life and transition of
Adam Kashmiry, an Egyptian transgender man who fled to Glasgow to seek exile
from the oppressive society in his home nation ‘where being yourself can get
you killed’. (Edinburgh Festival Fringe, n.d.) Similarly, ‘Eve’ flashes ‘back
through the life and thoughts of its writer and performer Jo Clifford’, (Church,
2017) born John Clifford in 1949. Clifford, through monologue, dictates her experience
of discovering her gender identity after living a childhood where ‘words like
“transgender” did not even exist’, and where she felt as if she ‘was something
unspeakable. And completely alone.’ (Clifford and Goode, 2017).

 

Deviations
from the gender norm have been apparent in theatre throughout history, dating
even as far back as the Elizabethan era, where female characters in
Shakespeare’s plays were initially portrayed by young males in female costume. However,
such a deviation doesn’t fit the definition of what modern transgenderism is –
‘an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression
differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at
birth.’ (Surnow, 2016). This study aims to explore how transgender theatre is
emerging in the 21st century in response to societal views and
pressures regarding the topic. For the purpose of this study, the term
‘transgender theatre’ is used to refer to theatre that discusses and explores
the subject of modern transgenderism, or that which is created by transgender
artists themselves. It will explore three works that can be viewed to be
pioneering within the field and how they respond to societal views and pressure
regarding the subject; ‘Adam’, ‘Eve’ and ‘Rotterdam’.

 

In recent
years, ‘the visibility of the transgender community has radically changed’
(Williams, 2017) with transgender figures such as Caitlyn Jenner, Munroe
Bergdorf, and India Willoughby featuring in the media. Jenner’s transition from
gold medal-winning Olympian Bruce, documented through a reality television
series entitled ‘I Am Cait’, ‘served to focus … more attention on trans women
and the topic of trans identity’. (Marinucci, 2016) Bergdorf emerged as the
first transgender woman to model for a UK L’Oréal Paris campaign in August
2017, before notoriously being fired merely a week later for controversially
challenging white privilege and
institutional racism on Facebook. Willoughby’s tenure on Channel Five’s Celebrity
Big Brother in January 2018, alongside drag artist Courtney Act, presented the
subject of gender identity on a daily basis on a major UK television channel. Though
all receiving a mixture of positive and negative reactions, their issues and
those of the wider transgender community are increasing in prominence
publically. It appears that this trend is also being reflected on the stage.