Les comparto a continuación una de las historias más conmovedoras y admirables que necesariamente los invitará a la reflexión y sensibilización por tantas personas en nuestro entorno que merecen nuestro apoyo y comprensión debido a su condición sexual y de género.
A Eliana la vine a conocer tras la muerte de otra magnífica persona y amiga, Laura Weinstein, adalid de la causa transgénero en Colombia y directora de Guimel, la organización LGBTI judía latinoamericana y a quien tuve el privilegio de presentar par veces en Limmud Bogotá. Dos mujeres judías, salidas de entre las entrañas de la periferia de nuestra pequeña comunidad, son ellas ejemplarizantes casos de superación y liderazgo. Con Eliana he podido conversar largamente algunas veces en las últimas semanas y me alegra que haya querido compartirnos su historia en términos muy íntimos, muy bíblicos y muy amerindios de manera sabia y noble.
Los invitó a ver la siguiente entrevista en exclusivo para Valija de Apocrifos que trasmito en diferido por la diferencia horaria que nos separa con Nueva Zelandia. Tembién encontrarán a continuación, para su lectura, un link a la Biografía de Eliana Rubashkyn según wikipedia y un artículo publicado en revista israelí.
Born as an intersex in Colombia, she survived rape and violence, then fell in love with an Israeli
Tomado de la Revista israelí "Laisha", entrevista realizada por Yael Gati
Eliana Rubashkin was born with female and male characteristics, grew up as a teenager, and after a journey of hardship became the only person legally assigned as male in the world to be recognized as a woman without undergoing any surgery. Today she is married to Itamar.
Four years ago, while living in a shelter for illegal immigrants in Hong Kong, Eliana Rubashkin, a Colombian Jew, surfed an international dating site. While corresponding with a Palestinian man who was courting her vigorously, she was approached by an Israeli guy named Itamar Golber, a member of a traditional Jewish family from south Tel Aviv. "I loved her look," Itamar recalled in a transatlantic conversation the two had with me from their current location in Auckland, New Zealand. "I went into her card, I saw that she was Jewish and that made me happy. I knew nothing about her past."
The two started chatting through the site (Itamar: "She was much nicer than all the other girls"), and in their first phone call, the very next day, Eliana told Itamar what deterred dozens of men before him: she was born as intersex, with her body containing sexual signs of both sexes; And grew up as a son named Sasha. "It was important for me to tell him about it right away, to know if it bothered him," she recalls.
And how did he get it?
"His reaction was different from that of other men, who feared that their masculinity would be harmed, because people would think they were gay. Itamar did not ask questions and did not go into great detail, like most people. He understood me so simply, and saw me as a beautiful woman worthy of love."
"I don't care how she was born," Itamar points out" and it doesn't make sense to me to disqualify her because of that. The main thing is what she is now." "This is where the good part of my life began," concludes Eliana, whose tangled life could easily have turned into a tear-jerking film.
I'm not a monster
Eliana Rubashkin was born in Colombia 30 years ago. Her mother, a Jewish mom from the Ukraine, immigrated to the country in 1979, when she was married and the mother of a child. A year later her husband informed her that he actually had another family, and he returned to her. A few years later she met a Colombian engineer, became unplanned pregnant, and at the age of 49 gave birth to Sasha. Her older age, according to Eliana, could explain why I was born intersex.
"Intersex" is a term used to define a wide range of situations in which a person is born with a sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical definitions of male or female. For example: girls born with a particularly large clitoris or without a vaginal opening; Or a child born with a particularly small penis or with a split scrotum, which resembles the lips of a female penis. Sometimes the difference is noticeable only chromosomally: some of the cells in a person's body will have chromosomes XX and some XY, a mix of both XY/XX, or an additional chromosome XXY.
According to World Health Organizations, a situation in which a person is born with sexual characteristics that make it difficult to classify him as male or female occurs from 0.05% of the cases, however, it is estimated that 1.7% of the world population has varying degrees of sex characteristics outside of the medical norm “male” “female”.
In the past, doctors who encountered an intersex condition in the birth of a baby would decide which sex was more prominent - and perform surgery accordingly. Nowadays in few countries is customary to wait until the new-born grows up and decides for himself whether he wants to be a man or a woman.
Most of the countries of the world still carry on with unconsented surgeries or hormonal therapies and babies, therapies that are a clear violation of the rights of the self-determination of those babies.
Eliana was born with chromosomes of both sexes. There was a rare combination in her body: one testicle that is male, and a second testicle that functions partially, and can produce eggs. Because the male markers on her body were more prominent at birth, the doctors decided to define her as male. When her father realized what it was all about, he left home.
When Sasha was 13, his mother took him to a pediatrician, who realized that the boy's body was not developing as expected; "My mother thought that if she had raised me so far as a son, I should be a son," Eliana recalls. "The word intersex was never uttered at home, and I did not know there were other people like me in the world."
For financial reasons, the mother did not consult any specialist doctor. "She ignored everything I said on the subject and also comments from people on the street," Eliana recalls, "she just closed her eyes. I felt very uncomfortable with my body, and I started hiding it from everyone.
In order to help her son, she thought, the mother enrolled him in a boys' school only. "It was a nightmare. I was bullied terribly because of my feminine behaviour and because of my chest. Hiding the chest was a daily task: I would fasten it with bandages. As a boy with a tit, I could never go to the beach or the pool."
Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Sasha had no friends. "My body was like a prison for me, and the escape from it was studying." S/He jumped a grade and graduated high school at age 17, with one the highest grades in the country that year, which allowed her to be accepted to study chemistry and pharmacy at the best university in Colombia. At that time S/he grew long hair, and his older brother demanded that S/he cut it. "The farther I was from femininity, the more miserable I was," Eliana recalls.
The times as a student gave Eliana, for the first time in his life, some freedom. "I got to know people like me, who felt their gender identity was wrong, and I could present myself to them as a woman," says Eliana. "I connected to the world of transgender and cross-dressers. "That night I dreamed that my mother called me 'Eliana.' .
One night, as Sasha was walking down the street dressed as a woman, S/he was attacked by a man from a paramilitary wing group who had decided to clear the streets of transgender people, and was wounded. "The scars from this injury are still on my body," Eliana says. A friend who wanted to confirm her mood invited her to a transgender party at a private home. "In the middle of the party, I went out with friends," she says. "Suddenly a taxi came, and from the window came a man who shot us indiscriminately. I managed to escape, one friend was injured. I did not understand why I we were hated so much. That's what I am, and that's disgusting people."
Feeling that her life was in danger, Eliana decided to leave Colombia, obtained a scholarship to study for a master's degree at a university in Taiwan, and lived at a Chabad house in the capital, Taipei. I felt comfortable, ”she recalls,“ I felt my period as an alien was over. I decided that here I could feel a woman seven days a week. When I told my father about it on the phone, he replied: 'You no longer exist for me”.
Eliana's next step was to see a doctor, in order to take hormones to look more feminine. "Within three or four months, there was an amazing change," she recalls, "even the doctor did not believe it. My face changed dramatically, I looked in the mirror and did not recognize myself! I felt another person was hiding inside me. I could finally wear women's clothes without looking. "Strange on the street, and they approached me as a woman. I was happy."
But Eliana's hardships were not over. When the student visa was required to be renewed, she was informed that the computer at the Ministry of the Interior did not identify her as the person appearing in the passport. Her attempts to present a letter from the attending physician also did not help, and she was sent to renew her passport at the Hong Kong consulate.
At the country's airport, authorities suspected her of impersonating another person and possibly smuggling drugs, and she was taken to a detention room inside the airport. "For eight hours they held me in full nudity," she shudders, "and some police officers searched me intrusively, touched me repulsively and laughed. They did take my phone, but did not know I had another phone, hidden in a bag. I managed to connect to the internet and sent "Call for help. Friends from Hong Kong hired a lawyer for me and got me out of there with the help of Amnesty International. I applied to the UN and applied for political asylum, due to my special situation.
In order to prevent deportation to Colombia and in order to obtain refugee status, Eliana was forced to give up her Colombian citizenship. "I became a person without a state, under the protection of the United Nations," she says, "I lived in homeless shelters in Hong Kong. I was lonely, I felt I had lost everything that could be lost: citizenship, the pharmacy certificate, the master's degree - and my dignity. I was very depressed and tried to commit suicide. I was subsequently taken to a psychiatric hospital, had my hair cut and tied to a bed. It was a terrible torture. "
The nightmare, it turns out, was far from over. "When I was released from the hospital I went back to live in the shelter. One night I came back with groceries. Six Bangladeshi guys were waiting for me near the shelter, assaulted me and brutally raped me. I bled and arrived wounded at the hospital."
Eliana: "I have become a person without a state, under the protection of the United Nations. I lived in homeless shelters in Hong Kong. I was lonely, I felt I had lost everything that could be lost: citizenship, the pharmacy certificate, the master's degree - and my honor."
It was only after the rape that the UN began to take Eliana's situation seriously. She received an official document confirming that she was a female, thus becoming the only legally recognized “man” in the world to be recognized as a woman without undergoing surgery.
Did you ask for any help from your mother during this time?
She couldn’t help, I was disconnected from the world.
Later, "My relationship with my mother was painful. She blamed me for my problems, and said that the rape happened because I dressed as a woman, and that as a man it would not happen to me. Today my mother is the only person in my family with whom I keep in touch, and she released anger "In one of the last conversations, she called me 'my daughter' for the first time, and it was very exciting."
She supports me, I love my mother, she is my world.
After eight months of misery in Hong Kong, Eliana was informed that she was about to fly to New Zealand, which granted her political asylum. She was promised a place to live and help find a job so she could start a new life. Shortly before the move, the Internet and telephone contact began with Itamar (26), a graduate of military service in the Air Force, who worked for a manpower company. "We talked about Judaism, which at this point was the point that connected us," she recalls. "I told him about everything that happened to me. We filmed videos for each other, and Itamar sent me romantic videos he edited and links to films related to my story."
Eliana flew to Auckland and settled in an apartment for refugees. "One day I returned home, and saw that a package had arrived from Israel. I immediately realized that it was from Itamar. The package contained a ring, additional jewelry and a romantic letter. I asked Itamar on the phone what the package meant, and he simply replied: 'Eliana, I want to marry you.'
After ten months of intense correspondence and conversations on WhatsApp and Skype, Itamar decided he wanted to fly to New Zealand, to meet his lover. "I knew it was love," says Itamar, "so it was clear to me that I would fly for the sake of the end of the world." "Like me, he also felt lonely," Eliana adds. "We felt we shared similar feelings and thought we should be together."
Itamar's family members opposed the move. Eliana shared her love story with her mother, "who understood that I was suffering from loneliness, knew I was in love with Itamar, and wanted to atone for past mistakes. She bought Itamar a flight ticket from Tel Aviv to New Zealand, for the next day."
When Itamar landed in New Zealand, they first met. "I was very excited," Itamar recalled, "but because I grew up in a traditional home I kept in touch. She hugged me, I was shocked and did not know whether to hug back or not. I am very shy and had no previous experience with women." In fact, Eliana was also inexperienced until that moment. "I had relationships, but not physical ones," she confesses. "There were men who were interested in me, but not in a serious relationship. Itamar is my first and true love."
A few days later, Itamar asked Eliana to dress nicely, and took her to a flowering park not far from their house. He pulled out of his pocket the same ring he had sent her from the country, and offered her to marry him again - this time officially. "It was romantic," she admits.
On June 2, 2015, a year after they first met and a month after they met face to face, the two were married in an official ceremony at the Auckland City Hall. An embarrassing moment was recorded when Eliana was defined by city officials as Louis-Alexander, as stated on her birth certificate. "It was strange and painful," Itamar recalled. "We wanted to be married, so we humbly accepted the mistake," Eliana adds.
Later, a wedding party was held in their honour at the home of a Jewish family who adopted them to their heart's content. "No rabbi agreed to marry us, so it was not a kosher wedding," says Itamar, "but we believe it was a halakhic wedding," Eliana adds. "We were standing under a canopy, Itamar told me 'you are sacred' and broke the glass."
Due to her financial situation, Eliana could not afford to buy a wedding dress for the exciting event. "We did not get married the way we dreamed of getting married," she concludes, "we had no family support and in fact no one wanted us to get married, so we had the poorest wedding possible. Itamar wore the Yom Kippur white clothes, I wore a plain blue dress. "Only the wedding cake was classy: it was an amazing rainbow-shaped cake made for us by the woman whose wedding party was held. We ate from it for a week."
Eliana recently found a job as a retail manager at a large pharmacy in Auckland, and she is proud to say she speaks five languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, English and Mandarin. Itamar, on the other hand, has a hard time finding a job: "They do not understand my English and I have a visa problem, so I can only work in black jobs." A few weeks ago, Eliana was informed that the New Zealand government had agreed to grant her citizenship. "I assume that when I get my citizenship, I will finally be able to change my name and gender on my ID card and passport and find a job as a pharmacist, and Itamar will be able to get a visa."
Do you have local friends?
Itamar: "We have few friends in the Jewish community. Overall, we are quite lonely. Alone together."
What do you like most about each other?
Itamar: "I love her femininity, tenderness and warmth. She always wants to help and she always cares about everyone."
Eliana: "I love his simplicity and authenticity. He loves me unconditionally, protects me, makes sure they respect me and makes sure no one hurts me. After such a long time where I suffered disrespect and hatred, I very much appreciate his protection. He makes me To feel like a princess. "
Eliana: "Although we experience difficulties and life is complicated, we are very happy together. And yet, I deal with the trauma I went through and receive psychological treatment. If I shout at night, Itamar knows how to calm me down."
How do you pamper each other?
Eliana: "For us, small things are big. Itamar leaves me 'I love you' notes, brings me coffee in bed in the morning - and sometimes buys me flowers or chocolate. When I want to make him happy, I make him jahanun, which he loves so much."
Although she has been recognized as a woman, Eliana is interested in undergoing sex correction surgery, which will complete the change. For this purpose, it intends to launch an online fundraising campaign.
I understand you're thinking of a child.
"Because I have a XX chromosomes, it might possible, but I will need in vitro fertilization”
Are you happy today?
"Although we experience difficulties and life is complicated, we are very happy together. And yet, I deal with the trauma I went through and receive psychological treatment. If I shout at night, Itamar knows how to calm me down."
Why did you decide to be interviewed now and tell your story?
"It is important for me to convey the message that even if there seems to be no solution to the situation, in the end there is a solution. Although the situation was very complicated, I did not give up. It is very difficult to live in a world that hates you because you are different. What happened to me was so unfair, and I do not want this to happen to anyone else in the world. "
For the refugees, for the stateless, for the intersex community, for the trans, for the woman, for everyone who suffers, and for those who their dignity is challenged every day.