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A First: Emirati woman seeks court permission for sex change operation

"She has been undergoing physical and psychological care since 2012 and a medical commission had recommended that she undergo a sex-change surgery," her lawyer said

For the first time in the history of the United Arab Emirates, an Emirati woman has sought legal aid to permit her to undergo a sex change operation. She has applied for ‘First Instance’ at the court this month.

Ali Al Mansouri, the lawyer of the 29-year-old Emirati woman, said on her behalf that she didn’t seem to feel comfortable in her own body and felt that her physical appearance did not match her personality and mentality.

“Ever since she was three, the woman felt instead that she is actually a male. She would have an intense desire to have a male body and to be accepted by others as a male and would feel her true identity is male,” the lawyer said in his statement.

He also conveyed that the feeling of being a part of the wrong gender, invited many mental hindrances such as anxiety, depression and distress. “She has been undergoing physical and psychological care since 2012 and a medical commission had recommended that she undergo a sex-change surgery,” he said.

The court has assigned this case the date of 28 September 2016, to look into the matter, which is a first of its kind in the region.

President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan had issued the UAE’s Medical Liability Law last month, in August, which was brought into immediate action this month after being published in the official gazette. This law permits reassignment surgery.

This law has been established keeping in mind the rules and regulations of the Sharia Law, which is vigorously followed in the UAE. According to the law: “The surgical procedure [or procedures] by which a transgender person’s physical appearance and function of their existing sexual characteristics are altered to resemble that of their identified gender is permitted if it is part of a treatment for gender dysphoria in transgender people, as advised by a medical commission to be set up for this purpose”.

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