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LHC allows woman to change sex

LAHORE – The Lahore High Court on Tuesday allowed a woman to change her sex and undergo a surgery after the Federal govt and her medical consultants agreed that she was suffering from ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ that required a surgery.

It is for the first time in Pakistan’s history that a court has permitted a citizen to change sex despite the fact that there was no law in the country, allowing a person to change his/her gender.

She has also written her name as Muhammad Ahmad Abdullah in the petition
Naureen Aslam,28,of Faisalabad, had approached LHC after various doctors, fearing a legal action against them, had declined to do the necessary surgery. Mr Justice Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon had sought reply from Federal govt in this regard.
Dr Nadeem Hassan, Assistant Director General Health (MF) Islamabad, conceded in a written reply filed in the court that she was a patient of ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ and needed medical treatment.

The legal experts are of the opinion that it would open a floodgate for the others to follow, and without any legislation on the issue many might misuse it. They said a law should be framed in line with our social and Islamic norms. A high-level board should examine each case on its merits, they suggested.
The petitioner said she was feeling physical changes in her body since the age of 8 years and her family consulted many doctors who formed a consensus opinion that she was a ‘Gender Identity Case’ and needed a surgery.But her parents did not seek proper medical treatment at that time.

She pointed out that in 1998, a local doctor referred her to Lahore where doctors after giving her some medical treatment referred her to Dr.Arshad Cheema, a professor of surgery at King Edward Medical University.
She pointed out that Dr.Cheema, before proceeding in her case sent her to Lt.Col.Dr. Mamoon Rashid who is head of department of plastic & reconstructive surgery at CMH Rawalpindi.

After long and hectic efforts and thrashing out all aspects of her case, Dr. Mamoon agreed to carry out an operation and asked her to come on January 31 for her sex change surgery.

Later, Dr Mamoon refused to operate her on the plea that he might face the music because in a similar case of sex change, LHC had already punished doctors who conducted sex change surgery of Shumail Raj. Shumail Raj was a girl and some doctors conducted surgery on her to change her sex. The operations , however, remained unsuccessful but she got married to her cousin Shahzeena after concealing her identity. When the case landed in LHC, Mr Justice Khawaja Sharif had summoned doctors, asking them to explain that under what law they had operated her.

The petitioner said she approached other doctors in Lahore and Faisalabad but no one showed readiness to operate her and asked her to seek LHC’s permission to get herself operated.

She maintained that she could be cured by a simple surgery while her case had no nexus with one of Shumail Raj.

According to her, LHC in that case had not passed any such order that no patient suffering from ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ could be given medical treatment.
She argued that Constitution guaranteed that all citizens are equal before law and the State would provide basic necessities including medical treatment.

She said she was ready to bear expenditures of the surgery in a govt hospital, therefore, she might be allowed to change her sex and the respondents be directed to carry out her operation.
Source: The Nation
Date:4/30/2008

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