Transgender Visibility on Prime Time TV

Miss Trans Israel 2016 Talleen Abu Hanna has been making a tremendous service for transgender visibility in the TV show “Big Brother” for three weeks. In a conversation she held in the court yard this week with Indle, another contestant in the show, she explained about the “cycle of repression”, that pushes many transgender women in Israel to have no choice but to engage in prostitution: “It’s not fun for them to have to go and sell their bodies and stand in the cold night on the roads. Little girls were raped and some of them got killed.”

Talleen and Indel speak in the Big Brother House’s court yard

“You should know that Israeli trans women are the most beautiful in the world”, declared Talleen Abu Hanna, Miss Trans Israel 2016 and a “Big Brother” resident, to Indle as they sat together in the court yard this week. “It’s not just about beauty,” she added. “We are well kept, we know how to apply makeup, what to wear. We have style. In other places, for them it’s just to put on lingerie and go out to the streets – and it looks fake!”.

Then Indle, who listened eagerly to Talleen, decided to find out why some trans women decide to go to work as prostitutes. “It’s called the ‘repression cycle,'” Taleen explains to him. “They are being rejected from all sorts of places. From work, from home, and at a very early age. Most trans women discover themselves today at the age of 13. There are so many nowadays, at age 13-16, let’s say even up to 18. Where’s the most accepting place? Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv how much is the rent? Even if she worked a normal job, she wouldn’t be able to pay for herself, her normal standard of living. So there goes NIS 3,000 on rent, and another thousand shekels on electricity, water and property taxes. What’s left for her? a thousand for clothes and food? And because of that they start to work [in prostitution]. Surgeries cost a lot of money.”

Later in the conversation Talleen explained that in Israel there are no sex change surgery experts: “It’s on a professional level, but a doctor who does that surgery here does it only once or twice a year. In Thailand a doctor does two surgeries a day. It’s a lot of money, and they need to save.”

“It’s also difficult [for a transgender woman] to rent an apartment here. They’re not always welcome. Even at work, they are not getting hired. ” Talleen continued to reveal the terrible discrimination and the situation of many transgender women in Israel. “They’ve reached a state where they don’t have the courage to go to a normal job. A trans woman who works within the suppression cycle gets used to a different lifestyle. She’s making more money, so suddenly she gets used to other things, and because of this she can invest in herself and buy herself more things, because she has money. Even though she doesn’t want to do what she does, it can reach states of depression and even suicide. After she manages to build herself and complete herself, she wants to return to be part of normal society, but she can’t because she has been living at a different level.”

“It’s not that they want to do it,” Talleen continued. “It’s not fun to have to go and sell their bodies and stand in the cold night on the roads. Little girls were raped and some were killed, and there are areas where trans women were kid napped and killed. A friend of mine was working and she was locked in a car. One invited her to the car as her customer and another one who hid behind pulled out a knife and wanted to kidnap her. They came onto the highway at an insane speed. So what’s the solution for her? To throw herself out of the car. And that’s what she did, she threw herself out of the car. She was hospitalized for three months with a serious injury, a head injury, and all of her body was bruised. ”

“How many transwomen do you think there are in Israel?,” Idle then asked Talleen, “more than a thousand?” and Talleen said, “I think so. Maybe even more. I, myself personally know a hundred and something.”