Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Transgender in Lebanon

“Islam bans the purposeful act of someone transforming his or her sex,” says Sheikh Khaldoun Araymet, secretary general of the Higher Islamic Council in Lebanon, Dar al-Fatwa. “A human who suffers from this perplexing condition … is unbalanced in terms of his behavior, his religion and his psychological condition.”

FROM Being Transgender in Lebanon

AAccording to Simon (who requested that only his first name be used to protect his anonymity), a social worker at the gay rights organization Helem:

“The main challenges they face are social rejection … and discrimination when it comes to work,” says Simon. “They earn less than their colleagues, and that’s if they find a job … They get harassed in the street and often beaten.”

Simon says that as a result of the lack of employment opportunities, many transgender people turn to prostitution.

In Simon’s experience, the constant strain of social rejection often leads transgender people to consider suicide.

“Every transgender person I know has tried to commit suicide more than once,” he says.

Dr. Michael Khoury, a clinical psychologist based in Beirut who treats many transgender people, says that when they reach out to a health care professional, most are shunned.

“Lots of people try consulting doctors,” he says. “Most doctors in Lebanon faced with a transgender patient are inaccurate and condescending, if not downright abusive.”

As for receiving treatment for their condition, sex-change surgery is illegal in Lebanon, and Simon says that hormones are difficult to obtain legally.

“Hormones are expensive, so many transgender people start hormones without consulting a doctor,” he says. “They get them on the black market, which is extremely dangerous because they don’t know the effects of these hormones or what kind of risks they might face.”

According to Khoury, many transgender people also turn to black-market surgery. “One of my patients is a female-to-male transgender,” he says. “He had his breasts removed on the black market, and one day he showed me his scars. They were terrible.”

Khoury says that transgender people in Lebanon face the additional challenge of living in a country with strong religious roots.

“There is a strong sense of sin and not belonging to their religion,” he says. “It’s excommunication at the deepest level.”

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

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