‘I’ve lived in the wrong body my whole life’

In a land­mark case, brave woman tells Abu Dhabi court why she wants to be a man

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Nawal Al Ramahi @nawal_ramahi

A woman hopes a change in UAE law will al­low her to un­dergo surgery to be­come a man.

Reem, 28, told 7DAYS that she has ap­plied for gen­der re­as­sign­ment to an Abu Dhabi court, fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of new med­i­cal leg­is­la­tion sev­eral weeks ago.

The Emi­rati has sub­mit­ted a se­ries of med­i­cal doc­u­ments and phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions that she claims shows her testos­terone lev­els are sim­i­lar to that of a man. But she also said psy­cho­log­i­cally and emo­tion­ally, she no longer wishes to be a woman.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to 7DAYS after the hear­ing in Abu Dhabi, Reem (who asked for her real name not to be used), said: “I have been strug­gling with this is­sue since I was five years old.

“I have al­ways felt like a man trapped in the wrong body. It’s not just some­thing that I have felt re­cently.

“How­ever, I was ner­vous and didn’t know how to speak about it. I didn’t know what to do or what’s go­ing wrong.”

The new Med­i­cal Li­a­bil­ity Law, which was rat­i­fied just weeks ago, cov­ers a se­ries of changes sur­round­ing medicine, in­clud­ing a sec­tion on gen­der op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing “treat­ment for gen­der dys­pho­ria in trans­gen­der peo­ple”.

Reem’s lawyer, Ali Mo­hammed Al Man­souri, said his client has un­der­gone six med­i­cal tests to show her testos­terone lev­els are sim­i­lar to that of a man.

She is suf­fer­ing from gen­der dys­pho­ria, which is when a per­son ex­pe­ri­ences dis­tress be­cause of a mis­match be­tween their bi­o­log­i­cal sex and gen­der iden­tity.

Her lawyer, Al Man­souri, said: “In the be­gin­ning, I re­jected the case when my client con­tacted. How­ever, I ac­cepted the case when she proved her med­i­cal con­di­tion and de­scribed her psy­cho­log­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.” Al Man­souri said re­li­gious author­i­ties al­low the sex change op­er­a­tions as long as it can be med­i­cally proven the per­son re­quires it. He said: “This case is the first of its kind in the UAE. Court ap­proval is es­sen­tial for this kind of op­er­a­tion and the court will ex­am­ine the de­fen­dant’s med­i­cal records.” If the court ap­proves, Reem hopes to un­dergo an op­er­a­tion, pos­si­bly in the United States. The case is due to con­tinue on Septem­ber 28. nawal@7days.ae

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