Finally, Jordan is making a change related to the trans people situation.
In March 2018, the house of representatives was discussing a new medical liability law, the news was all over the media, the Jordanian TV channels, in the newspapers and social media. Everyone is talking about it and waiting for it to be finalized, but the Jordanian trans community (actually I can’t describe it as a community, we are more like individuals who follow each other on Facebook) was more interested than others.
Why is that? Let’s take a look at how the news was published:
- Roya News website:
In the article (in English) titled “Draft of Medical Liability Law bans sex-change and cloning in Jordan, the author says:
“The draft law differentiates between sex-change and sex-reassignment as the latter is used to address situations where physiological causes lead to sex ambiguity which justifies a medical intervention for males who appear feminine and vice versa.
The Lower House Medical Committee prohibited the sex change of a person who is clearly masculine or feminine with no suspicion to their sex as their physical appearance matches their biological and genetic make-up.
The article also prohibits the sex-change in cases where medical examinations determine that individuals match their biological sex, and considers any surgery performed in such cases a deviation from sex-reassignment”
- Ammannet.net website:
In an interview with Dr. Ibrahim Al-Bdour; Head of the parliament’s Health and Environment Committee, Dr. Al-Bdour said: “We tried to make the sanctions logical, so that there are financial sanctions and penalties up to prison, and there are punishments that we can’t tolerate so we have criminalized it such as sterilization surgeries of women, cloning, and sex change surgeries, which forced us to develop new definitions to differentiate between sex change and sex reassignment.”
Regarding sex change, Al-Bdour explained: “it means that a person is genetically a male and has male genitals but wants to change his sex to a female. In this case, the surgeon will be immediately criminalized and will be sentenced to from 10 to 15 years in prison. As for the sex reassignment surgeries, it will be allowed if the person is genetically female and has male genitals, in this case, and based on a decision by a technical committee, we choose which gender this person will be transitioned to.”
- Roya TV, on 20.03.18:
- Roya TV, on 03.04.18:
So this is the change everybody was waiting for? Instead of recognizing the gender dysphoria cases that requires reconfirmation surgeries they are limiting it to intersex cases, moreover, they will punish doctors who believe in the clients right to have the surgeries that will set them free.
Well done Jordan, and what about disregarding the whole medical liability law and only focusing on “sex change” surgeries? I really don’t understand why the news highlighted this topic only, yes, they briefly mentioned human cloning and women sterilization, but the sex change is the hottest issue. I wonder why.
The law was signed by King Abdullah II of Jordan, and it was issued on the Official Gazette No. 5517 dated 31/05/2018, and to be effective 90 days later. The law starts with defining sex change and sex reassignment as follows:
“Sex Change: Changing the sex of a person whose sexual affiliation is clear with masculinity or femininity and his/her physical sexual features matches with the physiological, biological and genetic characteristics, and there is no suspicion of sexual affiliation, male or female It also means deviation in sex reassignment with violation of the sexual character which resulted by medical examination process.
Sex Reassignment: Medical interference in order to correct the sex of a person whose affiliation is obscure, so that he or she is suspected of being male or female, such as having physical features that are contrary to the physiological, biological and genetic characteristics of the person, as if the features are masculine but in fact she is a female and vice versa.”
In page 6, article 8 states:
“The service provider is prohibited from the following:
- provision h: Performing sex change surgeries.”
and then, in page 13, Article 22 explains the penalties by: “Any person who contravenes the provisions of provision (h) of article 8 of this law shall be Imprisoned for a period of not less than three years and not more than ten years with temporary penal labor.”
unfortunately, I couldn’t find an English version of the law online, but for Arabic readers, you can find the law here.
Before this law, Jordan didn’t pay any attention to the transgender subject, nobody knew if there are surgeries being performed, it was something running in the backstage, if running at all, but the whole transgender matter was not that important, there were no laws to control it, not with nor against, yes it was rejected by society and it was not easy for transgender individuals to take transition steps, you will not find qualified endocrinologists to help us with HRT, if you managed to undergo the operation abroad you’ll have difficulties with changing your legal name and gender marker, but at least it was not under the spotlight. Now thanks to our parliament, it is, no need to fight the corruption in the country, no need to improve the education and health systems or provide better life quality for the citizens, no, lets fight the transgender people who are not even visible, and lets spread the news.
So what is to be done now? The best scenario is to convince the law makers that the gender dysphoria is not a mental or psychological issue that needs psychotherapy to be eliminated, it is a case that really requires surgical interventions in most cases, it needs to be controlled but to help those who suffer because of it, not to put more pressure on them. And to get there, we need to start a real trans community who takes the required steps to get the required support from experts (psychiatrists, psychologists, surgeons…etc.) and to make a move to change the law again.