Meet Adam.

A transgender Algerian, born July 3rd, 1996, to a religious,  conservative family in the suburbs of Algiers. Adam found himself born in the wrong body and grew up in a country with no other concepts of sexuality, other than straight or married. That notion confused Adam for most of his upbringing. 

However,  before we get to know more about his struggles, we’ll dig a little deeper into his personal background and his story!

Adam’s Story

Adam was born in a community where sexuality’s a taboo, ie. the conversation around it was very little, so much so that it still is considered “abnormal” and 3eib* (socially disgraceful/stigmatized) when addressed. 

The Algerian society has little to no tolerance, nor understanding— for that matter with regards to the different spectrums of sexuality. That is due to the conservative nature of the Algerian society and their strict upbringing, pickled with religious beliefs throughout the years.

Growing up, Adam says that he has always been into girls despite being born one. He says, “my gender expression was different, I would typically play with the boys.”

As a child, Adam would often ask his mother why he was different. Little did he, and his family know, that he was showing early signs of gender dysphoria, which he only learned about later in time. 

But wait, what is Gender Dysphoria?

Simply put, and as defined by the NHS “Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It’s sometimes known as gender incongruence. Biological sex is assigned at birth, depending on the appearance of the genitals.

Gender identity is the gender that a person “identifies” with or feels themselves to be. Biological sex is assigned at birth, While biological sex and gender identity are the same for most people, this isn’t the case for everyone. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may not feel they’re definitely either male or female.” 

Picture taken from Adam's Instagram Account: @theadamdarko

The case for Adam wasn’t any different. 

While he spent most of his life confused, he felt uncomfortable with the way he looked, with the way his voice spoke his thoughts. There was a certain disconnection between his body and soul, and according to him “it wasn’t pleasant.” Making matters even more challenging, the resources available for Adam to do his research at the time were non-existent. 

His situation deteriorated from bad to worse with every passing day and unable to identify whether he was in the wrong body, Adam felt trapped in his own world.

That’s when his depression began dragging him to a dark spiral. 

He soon began developing suicidal tendencies and saw death as the only way out of his grave discomfort.

Adam Illustration Abstract
Adams Story: by Algerian Illustrator @art__by__lou

Aged eighteen, senior in High school, Adam started dating a girl (to maintain the confidentiality of her identity, we’ll be referring to her as “M”).

Dating M was when he put his life through a period of most questioning.

He expressed himself more freely and started getting in touch with his masculine side a tad bit more. Physically, Adam had short hair, which often pushed people to question his gender online. However, their non-stop questioning made him regularly feel uncomfortable, mainly because he avoided it personally.

“For so long,” Adam tells Empower, “I didn’t want to face it. People around me felt that vibe [male] even though I was ‘presenting’ as female. Some friends even went as far as asking me [questions like] if I were born a male, would I have liked it? I always brushed off these questions.” 

If you look at this situation from a broader perspective, you can notice that this entire issue surrounding gender dysphoria, his constant interrogation by others and depression, etc. might have never existed should the community in which Adam grew in was better educated on the matter. 

One day, Adam’s girlfriend cornered him and confronted him about his odd behavior and low-mood. After avoiding the subject for long, Adam confessed that he was ashamed of speaking of it but finally told her that he feels like a boy trapped in a girl’s body.

At that point, M was the first person Adam accidentally came out to as Transgender. Although his reaction was a bit confused, after an extensive amount of research, Adam finally found some peace in realizing who he is.

A man born in a woman’s body.

And in summer 2015, Adam finally came out to the world as transgender. 

Keeping his reality a secret caused him excruciating pain, so he decided to share his thoughts through the only means possible, Social Media. More precisely, Youtube, December 2015

Through his Youtube videos, Adam shared his story, thoughts, real gender identity, and through that medium, he was able to build a community that massively helped him cope with his new identity.

He met other Algerians who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, and it was around then that Adam stopped feeling as lonely as he was. Youtube formed a support system that later helped him move further in life. The strength Youtube gave Adam was enough to push him to come out to his family, barely a month after he started his channel, and of course… it could have gone better.

Adam’s Family and Close Friend’s Reactions

“They didn’t accept that I was trans. They didn’t understand what it means [to be transgender] to begin with” Adam told Empower, “It’s mostly due to lack of education, I’d say.” 

In short, Adam was rejected from his circle of friends and family. Long story, Adam developed a strong defense mechanism that pushed him to isolate himself and no longer interact with anyone he knew, fearing that they too might reject him. His suicidal tendencies grew stronger and sunk deeper into his depression. Building in his belief that he is a reject and that there is no way out of his situation.

By the time Adam was in college, he only had three friends he could fully trust, other than the community he built aside on social media, away from his family. His only thoughts were to escape his home, and although it doesn’t seem like the hardest thing in the world now, for Adam, leaving his house at the time, seemed like an episode of mission impossible.

For months, Adam tried escaping in various ways, for his own safety. He began receiving threats online once people began knowing about his “nature”, it even went as far as being harassed in real life. 


Leaving Algeria

Under the pretext that he’ll leave to “study,” Adam managed to leave to Malaysia and in August 2017, he finally began transitioning a month later, due to which he struggled quite a lot – financially.

In order to keep his Visa, he made several rounds from Indonesia to Malaysia. It was only a matter of time before he began having trouble with the immigration office in Malaysia. With time, Adam looked less and less like the picture in his passport…which was a big deal until he had to face the fact that he might be obliged to return to Algeria.

Luckily, Adam thought about contacting the UNHCR before taking Testosterone and asked for their help in case his situation ever needed their support.

The day came where Adam’s entry was rejected to Malaysia because of the many rounds he made back and forth to Indonesia.

Going back to Algeria was not an option since he looked significantly different – which posed a threat to his safety. Consequently, Adam got stuck, spending 22 days straight at the Airport in Indonesia.

During that time the UNHCR executed all efforts to help him out, dubbing his case as “very urgent”. Luckily, they managed to contact the Canadian government who agreed to grant him asylum.

The minute that decision came about, Adam flew in directly from Jakarta to Montreal.

As of today, we are to say that Adam’s been granted his permanent resident status in Canada!

A New Life

Upon arrival, Adam was adamant on taking back control of his life. His interests were broader than they ever were as he got the chance to discover a completely new world of possibilities and endless opportunities.

He found his passion for music this past January and performed in several universities in Montreal. It was a new step for him, considering how the Algerian went from being harassed and bullied in the streets of Algiers, to being cheered and applauded by a crowd in Canada.

On this matter, Adam tells us, “If I’m being honest, I think everything happened too fast for me to process.” In addition, Adam took the initiative to change majors from Journalism, being his major of focus as a student in Algeria, to Marketing.

“It is one of my biggest areas of focus,” he says.

With a high social media reach Adam has on both Instagram and Youtube, Adam managed to build his own platform alongside a community of people who had a profound impact on him, including many figures of the LGBTQ+ community in Canada.

Final Words and Thoughts from Adam!

In Adam’s own words, “Transitioning, taking hormones, changed my life. Because I finally felt more comfortable in my skin and I felt more confident to walk through the world, I felt like I was finally me you know? And, I changed. My personality completely changed. Now I’m more social and better at social situations than before. I used to be very introverted and not talk to people. I did not like being outside, I did not like being seen so [taking] hormones really helped.

Coming to Canada was a dream come true. It happened so quickly I could not process it. it took me some time to process it. and God I don’t think I do,”  he laughs, “for real”.

“As it was all going on, I grew my platform online, I ended up meeting YouTubers I used to watch when I was in Algeria and I ended up working with them.”

“It is crazy to see that dreams do come true when you believe in them strongly enough.”


You can check out Adam’s Instagram account here to follow his incredible journey.

On behalf of the Empower team, I wish you the best Adam.

The #PeopleOfEmpower Series aims to shed light on mental well-being through the inclusion of young Arab individuals, in leadership positions, within their communities.

Get your writing featured on Empower Mag here!

Join the conversation on our Facebook Group: “The Empower Community”