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EGYPT: Ministry takes legal action against sex change surgeon

July 22, 2010 |  7:49 am

Thumbmail2010-07-21+12_20_00_656X The Egyptian Minister of Health has shut down a clinic in Asyut while its owner is questioned on criminal charges of performing sex change operations. Plastic surgeon Mahmoud Eteifi was reported to the ministry by the Medical Syndicate for operating on a 22-year-old man who wanted to be a woman.

Gender transformation is illegal in Egypt unless the patient receives approval from the syndicate and the Ministry of Health. An applicant must be tested and scanned to prove the sex change is meant to overcome a physical problem and not for personal preference. Islam Salah Salem, who underwent the surgery to become Nora Salah Salem, has been moved to another hospital until he recovers from surgery the syndicate has criticized as a failure.

"Basically, what Eteifi did was remove Islam's male sex organ and injected his breasts with silicone. But apart from that, he is still physically a male without vagina, uterus or female ovaries," Amani Lutfi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, said.  

For years, Islam has been looking for a way to find his real sexual identity. He earlier resorted to Egyptian media for help, telling Al Masry Al Youm: "I've felt that I was a girl since I was very young. My family could notice that but they've always tried to contradict themselves." 

He added: "When I grew older I was taken to a psychiatrist who recommended I should see a surgeon, but my mother wouldn’t let me do the transformation operation. . . . I was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, which should have been enough to get official approval, but after going through red tape without getting anything, I decided to seek help at one of the underground hospitals like Dr. Eteifi's."

Human rights activists have long criticized the syndicate's treatment toward GID patients, who eventually see their applications halted by bureaucracy and extensive demands.

"GID patients find themselves in front of a long and complicated list of procedures that always end up with the syndicate's refusal to allow gender transformation surgeries," Dalia Abdel Hamid of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Islam being removed to another hospital after the surgery. Credit: EGYNews.net

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