As coming out goes, being an onscreen reporter in a foreign country for a channel in another country is probably one of the more challenging environments in which to do so.
The mainstream media is a brutal industry. It's takes grit, tenacity and a tough skin to get ahead. I'm by no means at the top of my field but I've enjoyed a degree of success that I'm happy with so far.
The Imedia industry can be tough. There's little place for vulnerablity or perceived weakness. There's also little space for diversity – something I've struggled to understand for a long time.
Like politics, I believe that journalism requires a diverse range of people working in it to accurately reflect the world we live in. I'm proud of my background and identity and I find they open my eyes to stories other journalists would miss.
I don't know of any other trans Muslim migrant class foreign correspondents anywhere in the world.
Coming out as trans on this particular job is hard.
People will inevitably talk but sometimes the line between talk and gossip is blurred and the consequence is that an already challenging situation becomes unnecessarily stressful for me.
A while back I was at a party with a cis female friend who at one point during the evening said we should leave. It turned out that a minor local news anchor at the party was bad mouthing my appearance (the standard “What the hell is that? Is that a girl or a boy?” - because yes the world really is a school playground even when you're 41). My friend told me that happily, the host of the party stepped in and defended me. That was heartening to know. But I wondered later if it would have been easier for me not to have known about the mini drama at all.
Fast forward a few months and the same friend, in complaining about one of her own colleagues mentioned that he too had made some kind of childish remark about my gender presentation. But that she had rebuked him. Again I was grateful but wondered: would it not have been better if she had said nothing at all? I mean, what's confirmed to me is that a friend stood up for me but moreover and to my anxiety that even more strangers are transphobic and think negatively of me.
Next, yesterday I got an email from a work colleague whom I've been soliciting advice from about coming out as trans to my bosses. She has voiced her support of me indeed tells me she has my back, that I have her admiration but at the same time tells me that others have been talking about my appearance and that another colleague has talked about my transition with her.
Of course it is impossible to police what friends, peers and indeed strangers have to say about my life and my transition. If it were as simple as ignoring tittle tattle I would.
But the problem is manifold.
There is so little that is readily available in the public sphere about transgender people. What is out there is a load of tawdry information and imagery about sex swapping squaddies or lady boys or 'trannies' or pornography. And none of this is me. But even if it was: it's nothing to do with who I am, the career I've built, my intelligence or skills, my identity, my history or to be frank, the things I want to be known for.
But in one small or misjudged comment by either a well meaning friend or colleague and all of what I am, all of what I'm proud of, all of what I have achieved is reduced to a joke.
Secondly, nobody in my environment knows how to respond. And in spite of all the reading I've done online, all the discussions I've had with trans friends, the many appointments with my medical support – I'm no expert myself. Knowledge is one thing, experiencing gender transition is something else completely.
Of the selected few people I've been candid with have responded appropriately I guess. Asking questions, pledging their support or in one case being honest and showing that they found it a little difficult to understand.
But how they explain me when asked seems to be an issue.
So for now, I'm taking a step back with being open and letting the changes unfold slowly and ask my friends to spare me from what I don't need to know.