Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Saudi Women Searching for a Y Chromosome

This month, al-Bawaba posted an article on women in Saudi Arabia who are getting sex changes in order to gain the rights that are denied to them as women. A quote:

By becoming men, the women beleive [sic], they would have the opportunity to enjoy those privileges denied them as Saudi females but allowed to Saudi males,
including rights taken for granted in other societies, such as driving a car or even going to public places unaccompanied by a male relative.

A new black market for such operations is reportedly flourishing, and those interested in undergoing a sex-change operation are transported to another country (usually India) where the operation is preformed [sic].

The entire process, including departure from Saudi Arabia, the operation in a foreign land, and return to the Kingdom under an assumed identity, reportedly takes all but two weeks.
Something doesn't seem completely right. I understand the cause for women's rights, but I find it hard to believe that women are willing to change their sex simply to obtain their rights. That mkaes the operation seem much more minor than it is, like having an appendix removed or giving blood. We're talking about replacing Little Miss Hasna with Hassan Jr. here!

I think something was left out, or purposefully unexplored. If the surgery was indeed minor, and didn't affect the women's lives negatively in any way, wouldn't thousands of women be having them? I mean, it's just your gender. I think the real issue here is that the women were transgendered. The author just left that part out to highlight the inequality between the genders.

People don't just wake up their morning and say, "Hey, I'm bored. Why don't I change my sex today?" It comes from a deep-seeded feeling that you were born in the wrong body. Often, coming to terms with your own transgenderism is a long, arduous process, especially in societies that are extremely close-minded to transgendered people, which is almost every society in the world. For every trial and tribulation that gay people go through, and there are thousands, transgendered people go through about five.

I am confident that these people are transgendered, and I think that the article is therefore rather bogus. Was the author purposefully leaving out this almost-certain possibility, or was he/she just too blind or ignorant to see it? I can't tell if there is prejudice here.

Furthermore, the author doesn't have anything in the article but hearsay. There are no interviews with people who have undergone surgery, and we only know why they did it because some unknown source made an assumption. That is not good journalism.

Finally, the issue is so much deeper. I have heard of many rumors of men from Saudi Arabia who come to Lebanon for sex changes. They certainly aren't doing it because they desire to lose their rights by becoming women. We need an article on that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article does seem too simplififed and cheaply used to highlight the plight of women in Saudi Arabia. However, its nice to also note how the Saudi officials were quick to blame the "blasphemous influences of the West" instead of looking at their own society and trying to see the roots of their problems. In the case it's not, "psychological defects" seems to be the answer to most problems, the same way a homosexual sexual orientation would be the result of some sort of defect.

June 20, 2006 11:31 PM  

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