Operation: Sex Change is a grassroots online campaign launched by a couple of activists in the Beirut-based LBTQ support group, Meem, to raise awareness around challenges facing transgender people everywhere in the world.
The campaign is simple. Change your sex on Facebook and make that change visible on your profile. This 11-day campaign starts on Monday, November 9, which is the international day of action for sexual and bodily rights across Muslim societies: “One Day, One Struggle,” an initiative organized by the Coalition of Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), of which Meem is a member. It ends on Friday, November 20, which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day on which we remember the many trans individuals who were murdered in hate crimes.
In joining this action, you are taking a stand against the prejudice and discrimination facing transsexuals, who undergo changes in their gender expression in real life.
The truth is Facebook, like most of the world, only acknowledges male / female genders. We know, however, that the dichotomy of male / female gender roles is problematic, and that many individuals do not see themselves as identifying strictly with either gender. We also know that there are many individuals among us who identify as transgender, and that could mean a variety of identities that include cross-dresser, transvestite, androgynes, genderqueer, people who live cross-gender, drag kings and drag queens, and, frequently, transsexual.
Transgender identities are still very shocking to people, so we’re hoping that changing sexes on Facebook would prompt confused reactions from our friends, and hopefully they’ll try to figure out what is behind this change. That would give us the opportunity to explain to them our simple message:
- Transgenders and transsexuals exist among us. They have the same rights as everyone else to express their gender the way they see fit. If a person is born with a female body, for example, but identifies as a male, he has the full right to do so and you have the full obligation to address him as such.
- Transgenders face a lot of crap from everyone: their families, their colleagues, the people on the street, the police, the public, the state – everyone! Transgender identity is still considered a mental illness, and most of the time, transgenders face severe violence and discrimination just for not conforming to the strict gender roles imposed by society.
- Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Many people confuse homosexuality with transsexuality, but they are two totally different issues. We must always remember that even when we lobby for LGBT rights all together.
If you feel too scared about what people will say, then you can understand – if only for some fleeting seconds – what transgenders have to go through their entire lives. So please, take the bold step and stand up for a community who continue to suffer among us every day. Here’s what you can do to make a difference:
- Change your sex on your Facebook account by going to Info -> Edit Information. Make sure you check the box: “Show my sex in my profile.”
- Post a link in your profile to this page, and ask your friends to visit to learn more about your virtual sex change.
- Join the Operation: Sex Change group on Facebook so we can keep track of who’s joined the campaign.
- Talk to your friends about transgender identity, look it up on Wikipedia, post some links, and ask people to do the same.
To get in touch, you can engage with us on Facebook or email .