The threatening letters and phone calls at night trickled in at a steady pace. They had become a part of everyday life for Randa, an Algerian transsexual and one of the pioneers in the Arab world's gay and transsexual activist movement.
One letter dropped in Randa's mailbox said, "We will kill you." Another one read, "You are a threat to all Muslims in Algeria." In mosques around the country, Randa's name was being circulated. Still, she refused to be intimidated and shrugged off the threats.
But one day, a friend showed up at her house in Algiers, the Algerian capital, with a worried look on his face. He had bad news.
"One my friends took me for a ride in his car and told me, 'You have 10 days to leave the country,'" Randa, the author of a new book about her experiences, said in an interview with Babylon & Beyond. "Influential people had come to talk to him."
She knew she had to move quickly, but she had no idea where she'd go. Getting a visa to Europe would certainly take longer than 10 days. No, they'd get her before that, Randa figured. A visa to Lebanon, however, would only take a few days. And she had friends in Beirut.
So, Lebanon it was.
A year later, Randa, wearing a long black dress, high heels and sporting new black hair extensions, is greeting crowds of guests and reporters with a smile on her face at a signing for her memoir in the garden of a Beirut art studio.
The biography, "Memoirs of Randa the Trans," co-written with Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghyieh, was recently published in Arabic by the Dar-Al Saqi publishing house and recounts Randa's life story and struggles as a transsexual in Algeria and Beirut.