The Egyptian transgender woman battling stigma

Farida Aly spent decades performing blood tests, brain scans, and personality tests in Egypt.

Before doctors finally allowed her to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

She was born Mohamed Ramadan Aly.

And is one of the few transgender women in the conservative Muslim country able to confront what doctors diagnosed as gender dysphoria.

"I didn't know what to think, I always felt I was a girl, not a boy. I felt I wasn't the sex I was, but I had no idea what to do about it or how to think about it. I did not have the ability to think. The first medical report I received said I had brain deficiencies, it wasn't a matter of an extra sex organ, it was a mental issue, because gender is a mental issue. And that is what the first report said, it said I had an identity disorder."

Gender reassignment procedures are legal in Egypt.

But it's often a long, complicated, and highly stigmatized process.

Discrimination against LGBT+ groups is also rife.

According to Human Rights Watch, gay and transgender people have reported instances of assault and torture.

The issue was brought to public attention earlier this year when a prominent Egyptian actor revealed on a TV talk show that his son was transgender, and expressed support for him.

Aly, however, was abandoned by her family.

She was left jobless after extended medical leave and has had to move to a new town where only a handful of people know about her past.

"Trans-man, or a woman who becomes a man - society can accept that without judgment. Why? I have no idea. There is just a different rule, but in my case, that means I am on the wrong path, or I am being falsely accused of being something I am not. That's what most people think."

The former teacher now tutors children in the neighborhood to earn a living.

Her dream is to one day get married and have a child of her own.

Video Transcript

- Farida Aly spent decades performing blood tests, brain scans, and personality tests in Egypt before doctors finally allowed her to undergo gender reassignment surgery. She was born Mohamed Ramadan Aly and is one of the few transgender women in the conservative Muslim country able to confront what doctors diagnosed as gender dysphoria.

FARIDA ALY: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

INTERPRETER: I didn't know what to think. I always felt I was a girl, not a boy. I felt I wasn't the sex I was, but I had no idea what to do about it or how to think about it. I did not have the ability to think.

The first medical report I received said I had brain deficiencies. It wasn't a matter of an extra sex organ. It was a mental issue, because gender is a mental issue. And that is what the first report said. It said I had an identity disorder.

- Gender reassignment procedures are legal in Egypt, but it's often a long, complicated, and highly-stigmatized process. Discrimination against LGBT+ groups are also rife. According to Human Rights Watch, gay and transgender people have reported instances of assault and torture.

The issue was brought to public attention earlier this year, when a prominent Egyptian actor revealed on a TV talk show that his son was transgender and expressed support for him. Aly, however, was abandoned by her family. She was left jobless after extended medical leave and has had to move to a new town, where only a handful of people know about her past.

FARIDA ALY: [SPEAKING ARABIC]

INTERPRETER: A trans man or a woman who becomes a man, society can accept that without judgment. Why? I have no idea. There's just a different rule. But in my case, that means I am on the wrong path, or I am being falsely accused of being something I am not. That's what most people think.

- The former teacher now tutors children in the neighborhood to earn a living. Her dream is to one day get married and have a child of her own.