Reassigning gender: Woman seeks court’s permission for sex-change surgery

Urges court to direct all relevant bodies to correct her gender in official records


Rizwan Shehzad March 07, 2018
PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: While gender reassignment surgeries are nothing new in the country, a 28-year-old woman in the capital has approached the high court to seek legal permission to undergo the procedure.

The petitioner also wants court’s permission to have her official records altered once the procedure has been successfully completed.

Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday heard the petition filed by the woman.

The petitioner, along with her counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi, appeared in the court and contended that she has sufficient finances to pay for the surgery and all the medical facilities which will be required to fulfil the requirements of the surgery.

Abbasi pointed that two articles in the Constitution allow citizens equality in the provision of medical facilities and other basic necessities, and these should be extended to his client as well.

The counsel further contended that since the name of the petitioner has been included in all official documents such as voter lists, educational certificates, computerized national identity cards, a change of gender may create certain legal complications, thus it is always done after orders passed by the court.

The petition further states that the petitioner had lost both her parents at an early age and suffered multiple mental illnesses due to it. It adds that she completed her O-levels from Abbottabad before completing a bachelors degree from the University of London through distance learning systems in 2016. She then joined a law firm where she worked as a lawyer for almost two years.

A consultant psychiatrist and a consultant of plastic and cosmetic surgery were approached by petitioner. The psychiatrist diagnosed the petitioner with “depression of a moderate degree, mainly due to her gender identity.”

“She remembers being always unhappy with her gender and describes periods of anxiety and depression in the past for which she received no formal treatment,” the doctor’s advice read.

The second doctor’s analysis says, “[she has] the feeling of and believing in being a man locked in the opposite gender.”

Both state that her mental state of mind is full of angst due to the gender identity disorder she suffers (ICD-IO — Gender Dysphoria – DSM-Y).The two doctors suggested a “reassignment surgery” for the petitioner.

The petitioner had listed secretaries of interior, health, education ministries and the chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) as respondents.

The petitioner also sought permission for treatment by means of simple surgery and prayed the court to directed the respondents to correct the record of petitioner pertaining to “gender” after successful surgery and getting requisite certificates from the doctor in this regard.

After hearing and discussing multiple aspects of the petition, Justice Aurangzeb adjourned the hearing until March 8 — coincidentally, Women’s Day. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2018. 

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