Nigeria’s First Male Transgender Woman Iris Sahhara Henson Reveals She Was Jailed For Being Gay!

I am standing in front of the
mirror looking at my reflection.
Tears of joy trickle down my
rouged cheek before going on
I am in tears because I just
can’t believe how realistic my
dreams have become. I am a
woman! Living my life freely.
Accepted and respected for my
achievements as a model and
a performer.
My fellow transgendered
sisters and brothers paved this
way for me. They fought for
acceptance, understanding and
respect. Some died while
fighting for what they believed
in and others fell before their
time due to hate, rejection and society’s
unfairness. Every single story gave me strength to
fight on and never to give up.
I wish I could tell the younger me who tried to
commit suicide twice that life gets better and
dreams come true.
I did not imagine life could be this amazing many
years ago after being released from a horrid
Nigerian prison for being different. Then all I could
think was I could die in this prison and no one
will know or care.
Being imprisoned felt justifiable, considering I was
being punished for being ‘gay’ – something they
assumed due to my feminine features and
I wasn’t gay, I am a woman born differently due
to natural defects. What I felt did not match my
outward appearance, Being assigned male at birth
doesn’t make me a man or a woman, nobody was
born a man or a women, you develop into your
preferred gender as you grow up. For me that
gender was female. I was born male but my brain,
gestures, features and carriage functioned as
Growing up and not knowing what was happening
to my body made me confused and lost. I
couldn’t discuss it with my family because my
femininity was frowned on due to religion and I
could not talk to my friends because they would
not understand what I was going through. I found
solace in music and dreams.
I dreamt of being free to be myself, free of insults,
free of judgment and free from harassments.
That freedom came when I moved to the United
Kingdom, finding girls like me gave me hope of
not being alone in my journey of self-discovery.
I found out what I went through growing up in
Nigeria was quite common with transgendered
people. Having freedom, acceptance and
knowledge are the key most important elements
to a successful transition.
Knowing I am not alone in my struggles helped
me to reevaluate my views on life and how I
should go about my transition wisely. I
researched my transition and reconciled the
conflicting emotions involved in the process of
accepting myself as the woman I am.
It is a lonely world during transition, as your body
changes so do your emotions, which leads the
mind into the darkest path in life. If the chemicals
are not professionally controlled, you can feel
suicidal due to rejection from loved ones and
In life perfection doesn’t existent, but for me
having the freedom to be my true self feels
almost perfect. As a black transgendered woman
I am faced with many daily challenges such as
transphobia, a complicated love life, poor career
prospects and racism. But when I remember my
life history, these challenges become water under
the bridge.
That is why I will always remember those who
built this foundation for freedom and knowledge.
Also those who never got the chance to enjoy the
acceptance we have achieved so far.
Transgender Day of Remembrance today (20
November) is particularly import to me because I
have lost close friends to suicide and have seen
many more wishing to commit suicide as a final
fix to their gender dilemma and rejection by
The media is silent on the subject of transphobia
and the effects it has on young transgendered
people of today, because they don’t see
transgendered people as ‘normal’ members of our
Remembering my fallen friends helps me to keep
their memories alive. It also encourages me to
carry on the fight to be respected, understood and
accepted for whom I am.
I dream of a world where we are given some sort
of understanding and tolerance to live peacefully
as able, intelligent fellow human beings who
make positive contributions to society.
Transgendered people are human too. We are
your brothers, your sisters, your children, your
friends and your lovers. Stop the hate!


2 thoughts on “Nigeria’s First Male Transgender Woman Iris Sahhara Henson Reveals She Was Jailed For Being Gay!

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