February: Ask Agony Uncle Eli

Agony Uncle Eli February 2017

Rainbow Counsellor Elijah Luke Michel is here to help with your problems:

I’m very frustrated with my family. I’m a 21-year-old Iranian M2F trans woman born in NZ, and when I came out two years ago my family surprisingly accepted it. Now I have a girlfriend and my parents are upset because it’s okay to be born in the wrong body but not okay to be lesbian. Why are they not accepting this part of me?

Being NZ-born, it must leave you feeling confused. I presume your parents were born in Iran and raised under Islam — that would explain their acceptance of your gender identity (GI) but not your sexual orientation (SO). The Iranian government health system will even pay for gender reassignment surgery but you are only allowed to be in a heterosexual relationship, as per the Qu’ran. I suggest teaching them the difference between our GI and SO and reminding them we are equally born that way. Listen also to where they are coming from and remember — it’s not personal, it’s cultural.


I recently met a guy and we’ve been dating steadily over the past three weeks, but our problem is that we both fight to be the ‘dominant’ partner. We fight over who’s paying, who’s driving and even who’s on top! We try to laugh it off, but would a relationship survive if we continue this power struggle?

It does indeed sound like a power struggle. Interesting you use the term “dominant” — no doubt derived from hetero-normative gender constructs around dating roles and rules. Scrap that. Embrace each other as equal partners who take turns driving, picking up the dinner bill and of course during intimate moments in the bedroom. If that is something neither of you are able to do then perhaps you could explore what’s behind each of your needs to be in control. Best of lucking moving forward.

Elijah Luke Michel works with the LGBT+ community as a chaplain and face-to-face counsellor at OUTLineNZ. If you have an issue you would like Elijah to talk about in express, email ask@gayexpress.co.nz.