Prior to her exile, she was living in Iran and unable to express her sexuality in public. She became politically active at the age of 14 but had to flee the country aged 18 – travelling through Istanbul to Pakistan and then on to Berlin.
She has remained politically active. In 2012, Shadi was part of a panel with Amnesty International, speaking at an event before the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and in 2013, she participated in Turkey’s Gay Pride. She also took part in a panel with 6Rang at Istanbul Pride 2014, where she discussed forced sex changes that have taken place in Iran. She and Raha Bahreini spoke about these human rights violations against LGBTQ people in Iran at Stockholm Pride in Sweden in 2014. She was quoted by The Guardian, saying, “In a democratic society, a sex-change operation is an option for transsexuals, but in Iran it’s an obligation for their survival.
Shadi has researched gender discrimination, systematic oppression of women and the state of female homosexuals and transgender people in the Islamic Republic of Iran, publishing a book called Gender X with her findings. An English synthesis of her findings by Raha Bahreini has also been published, entitled Diagnosing Identities, Wounding Bodies. She has also studied LGBT people in Turkey and describes Turkey as a place where people from Iran can readily seek political asylum. She is also a founding member of the Iranian Women’s Network Association (SHABAKEH), a coordinator of the Iranian Lesbian Network and a co-founder of Justice for Iran.
Originally published in Vada Magazine. Republished with permission.