‘Gen­der change is a brave move’

Ex­pert be­lieves more cases will fol­low

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - By Nawal Al Ramahi @nawal_ramahi nawal@7days.ae

A lead­ing gen­der spe­cial­ist be­lieves a new UAE law that opens the door to sex change will lead to more peo­ple in gen­der cri­sis com­ing for­ward.

Dr Monika Chawla, a re­pro­duc­tive en­docri­nol­o­gist and fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist at Fakih IVF Abu Dhabi, es­ti­mated there are many peo­ple in the Mid­dle East afraid to seek help for phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tions linked to gen­der crises.

She was speak­ing af­ter a 28-year-old Emi­rati woman asked an Abu Dhabi court to al­low her to be­come a man.

It fol­lowed a re­cent change in UAE law that al­lows such cases to be con­sid­ered.

Chawla told 7DAYS: “The woman who filed the law­suit to change her gen­der is so brave, es­pe­cially given that such a topic is a taboo in the Arab world.

“I believe peo­ple with sim­i­lar prob­lems will speak up and seek re­quired treat­ment.”

The woman and her lawyer, Ali Al Man­souri, have given the court med­i­cal doc­u­ments they say prove she has gen­der dys­pho­ria, a psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion, and high male hor­mones and testos­terone, a phys­i­cal con­di­tion. Chawla said: “Gen­der devel­op­ment is com­plex and there are many pos­si­ble vari­a­tions that cause a mis­match be­tween a per­son’s bi­o­log­i­cal sex and their gen­der iden­tity. “Pa­tients have se­vere dis­tress about be­ing the wrong gen­der and ex­press a strong de­sire to live as the other gen­der.” The case and the change in the law has sparked sig­nif­i­cant de­bate. Dr Ali Ahmed Mashael, the Grand Mufti at the Is­lamic Af­fairs and Char­i­ta­ble Ac­tiv­i­ties Depart­ment, said sex change surgery should only be cor­rec­tive, in the case of pa­tients born in­ter­sex. He said it should not be elec­tive. For those born in­ter­sex, he said: “Par­ents should wait un­til it is known what God will de­cree. The sex or­gan might ap­pear af­ter some time.” Only af­ter time, if a child is left not prop­erly formed, should surgery be con­sid­ered, he said.

‘I believe peo­ple with sim­i­lar prob­lems will speak up and seek help.’ – Gen­der ex­pert Dr Monika Chawla

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