Transsexuality in the Spotlight

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There’s been a number of media articles, video reports, and studies the past couple of weeks about transsexuality and transgender identities. New TV did an interview report with two transgenders, male and female. You can watch it below.

The Daily Star published a feature entitled “Transgenders Lead an Alternative Life in Lebanon.” Both were done with a supportive angle. And perhaps most importantly, the Legal Agenda published an article (Arabic) on the legalities of sex change in identification papers in Lebanon, citing some valuable references.

Still, we can clearly see that the topic of transgenders in Lebanon is still lacking thorough and accurate media representation and research. To begin with, the New TV report called it al hawiya al jinsiya whereas it should be referred to as hawiya jandariya. And the word “iltibess,” i.e. confusion is rather misplaced since it is clear that the two individuals interviewed are not confused but perfectly aware of their gender identities. At times, we find a meshing up of gender and sexuality – and although the two are certainly interconnected, it is important to use the right naming for the issues.

In the DailyStar article, we are met with a typical victimization of Tino, despite the empathetic tone. The Sheikh who said transitioning is forbidden in Islam should do his homework better next time because many Fatwas out there legalize sex change operations and in some cases Islam-majority states financially sponsor the medical expenses. The Christian condemnation is also not properly backed up with good arguments.

Why do we always have to bring in social workers and psychologists to talk about “7alet il trans?” Why this need for authoritative figures to somehow give their approval for us to understand that gender is fluid and that we should have the freedom to identify however way we like? This dominant discourse that focuses on the problems of transgender individuals continues to marginalize them. Yes, they face rejection and yes, they have problems, but not all of them are suicidal, most of the trans people I know are brave and defiant and powerfully breaking every stereotype there is about gender in Lebanon. How about we portray them for who they are rather than as statistics and pity cases?

We hope to reach a point where transgender issues are well-researched and presented not as “freak cases” or “taboo topics,” but that we can start to have a real conversation about the queering of gender.

Written by Aladdin & Nadz

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