UAE sex correction case: Woman to be examined

28-year-old Emirati who wants to become a man will be allowed if requirement is proven.

A woman seeking to undergo sex correction surgery to become a man had her hearing adjourned to October 5 for medical examinations, the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance heard Wednesday.

The 28-year-old woman’s lawyer, Ali Al Mansouri, said his client was referred to medical commissions to determine her case and whether she suffers from gender dysphoria.

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

Al Mansouri said his client had been struggling with this issue since she was five years old. The woman has got several medical reports recommending sex correction surgery, but this surgery must be approved by the court.

He added his client had always felt like a man trapped in the wrong body since she was five years old.

According to the lawyer, the new Medical Liability Law, which was ratified just weeks ago, allows gender operations, including treatment for gender dysphoria in transgender people.

Al Mansouri said his client was suffering from gender dysphoria, which is when a person experiences distress because of a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. “The sex correction surgery is in line with Sharia and carried out in other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia,” the lawyer said.

He added religious authorities in the UAE allow the sex correction operations as long as it can be medically proved the person requires it. He said this case was believed to be 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.

Sex correction is the medical intervention to correct the sex of a person who suffers sexual obscurity, as it is unclear whether the person is male or female, and whose physical features do not match the physiological, biological and genetic characteristics.

People who wish to undergo sex correction operations must meet certain requirements, which have to be approved by a committee from the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

What the new law says

Article 7 of the New Medical Liability Federal Law (No 4) of 2016 clearly allows for sex correction surgery. But, under this law, sex change is banned. The sex change as a man or woman with clear physical features matching his/her physiological, biological and genetic characteristics seeking a change in gender. This is considered a clear deviation and breach under the law.

“Sex correction” is defined by the law as a medical intervention being sought by a man or woman who suffers from sexual obscurity and in cases where his/her physical features are contrary to his/her physiological, biological and genetic characteristics.

The law makes provision for a special committee to be formed with at least three eminent specialists who are meant to deliberate on a case-by-case basis, examining the detailed medical reports of the individual in question. This committee can also ask for a psychological evaluation of the patient to assess whether he or she genuinely experiences gender dysphoria. The committee is empowered to make their recommendations based on these findings, said a senior health ministry spokesperson commenting on the law.


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