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.