Two trans men in United Arab Emirates in unprecedented bid for gender recognition
Two trans men in the United Arab Emirates are filing an unprecedented lawsuit to attain legal recognition for their gender reassignments.
The lawsuit, a shocking development in a country where homosexuality is still illegal and cross-dressing people are often prosecuted, was reported by state newspaper al-Bayan.
The trans men were both identified by their initials, a 26-year-old called H.S. and A.M., 28, have asked a court in Abu Dhabi court to have their genders and names changed on state records.
The pair had already undergone hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery in Europe.
H.S. said he had known his gender for almost his whole life.
“My feeling that I’m a man started when I was three years old…Female physical symptoms due to puberty did not appear, and my mother put this down to my young age and thought these things would change once I got married and had kids.
“One of my relatives even wanted me to get engaged to her son,” he revealed.
After doctors discovered abnormally low levels of female hormones during one of his visits to a local clinic – a secret he kept from everyone but his mother – H.S. began hormone treatment.
As she looked increasingly masculine, a sympathetic teacher arranged for her to be allowed to use non-female spaces, including toilets.
Encouraged by this kind teacher, she saved money towards a complete gender reassignment in Europe, which she underwent over the course of three 12-hour operations.
He said: “Now I feel great psychological comfort, and my internal conflict has disappeared because my physical appearance comports with my mind.”
But the battle was not over yet, with the ongoing lawsuit hanging over him.
“I’m still awaiting a ruling in the case to complete the change of my name and sex on official documents,” he said.
The trans men’s lawyer, Ali al-Mansouri, told Reuters that the UAE’s federal laws on medical responsibility had to endorse gender reassignment because it was a diagnosed medical condition in the country.
“The law permits it,” he emphasised.
“Tradition is another matter, which might take more time.”
Homosexuality is still a criminal offence in the UAE.
Same-sex couples can be imprisoned for up to 10 years for consensual sex.
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A lesbian couple was tricked into flying to Dubai, a city in UAE, by one of their fathers on the basis that they would be arrested.
The pair said they had been detained in the airport while staff “laughed about their sexuality’
And earlier this year, a man spoke out about how he was violently threatened and robbed during a Grindr hook-up in Dubai.
He feared it was part of a systematic targeting of gay visitors, after more men came forward.
There are also strict laws forbidding public displays of affection in the country, with two men jailed in 2012 for allegedly “fondling.”
Also in 2012, a British man was also jailed in Dubai on gay sex charges.