Transsexuals in the Middle East Await the Wave of Change

Published: September 2, 2009

Transsexuals in the Middle East Await the Wave of Change

Hell is what most Arabs think of when the word “transsexual” comes into any conversation since many mistake it with homosexuality, which is a sin in Islam. Most transsexuals prefer to remain anonymous since in some Arab countries they could face jail sentences for dressing or acting like the opposite sex. Many, especially men who feel trapped in the body of a woman, keep their problems hidden to avoid being punished or killed by their families. It is far easier for a woman to have a sex change to become a man than visa-versa. A man who becomes a woman is seen to have dishonored the family.

For 34 years, Bahraini Hussain Rabai felt trapped in a female body. In 2008, the courts officially declared him a man by approving his name change in official documents, from Zainab to Hussain, following sex correction surgery in 2007.

Partially blind, Hussain is luckier than most – he was married this year and happy to finally become a man. “I think my wife married me because of my honesty. I told her and her family about my past and my keenness to lead my life as a complete man.”

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