A Lebanese judge has ruled that a transgender man can legally change his gender in the country’s civil registry.
Judge Janet Hanna of the Court of Appeals of Beirut last September ruled in favor of the trans man who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery. Her decision was released on Friday.
Dr. Omar Fattal, president of the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health, applauded Hanna’s ruling.
“LebMASH believes that Janet Hanna’s ruling in Lebanon is very significant,” Fattal told the Washington Blade on Friday in an email. “We hope that it’s a first step towards more comprehensive rights for transgender individuals and all other minority groups.”
Tarek Zeidan of Helem, a Lebanese LGBT advocacy group, agreed.
He noted to the Blade during a telephone interview that Hanna’s ruling does not change any laws in the Middle Eastern country.
Trans people must undergo sex-reassignment surgery before they can legally change their gender. Lebanese law also requires proof that they are not married and do not have children.
Zeidan described Hanna’s ruling as “unprecedented” because it “addressed the right of the person to have respect and the right to have a private life.”
“We really welcome it,” he told the Blade.
Decision ‘drop in the ocean’ for trans rights
A judge in 2014 struck down Lebanon’s anti-sodomy law in the case of an intersex woman who faced charges for allegedly having a relationship with a man. Discrimination and violence based on gender identity nevertheless remains pervasive in the country.
Dr. Hasan Abdessamad, a Lebanese obstetrician and gynecologist who currently works in Canada, on Friday told the Blade that a trans patient’s parents kicked her out of their home at 15 “for not conforming to how her society and family wanted her to look.”
He said her brother burned her face and her father threw her from the second floor of her family home. Abdessamad told the Blade a Lebanese doctor performed a botched sex-reassignment surgery on his patient that left her without “functioning” female genitals.
Abdessamad said she was unable to legally leave the country because she could not change the gender on her identification. He added “people she fell in love with would beat her up” once they found out she was not biologically female.
“She fled Lebanon eventually after 15 years of atrocities,” Abdessamad told the Blade, noting she was a refugee before resettling in Canada. “Many do not survive, many are killed or jailed and no one hears about them in media. This needs to stop and the court decision is only a drop in the ocean but it is definitely a welcomed step.”