Deterred from official healthcare, 26-yr-old dies after sex reassignment surgery

August 31, 2021 – Mada Masr –

A 26-year-old trans man named Ezz Eddin died on Saturday as a result of complications arising from sex reassignment surgery he had undergone the prior week at a private hospital in Dokki, Giza. 

Ezz Eddin had chosen to have the surgery at a hospital that was unauthorized to perform it, since the official committee that issues permission for hospitals to do sex reassignment surgeries has not met to process the procedures for years, Malak al-Kashif, a gender issues activist, told Mada Masr.

Doctors performed a hysterectomy on Ezz Eddin, but since they did not have official permission for the surgery Ezz Eddin left on the same day as the surgery instead of staying as an in-patient for observation, Kashif said. Ezz Eddin felt ill and returned to the hospital for a follow-up a few days after the procedure. His condition deteriorated and he went into a coma for several hours before he died on Saturday evening. 

Lawyer Nesma al-Khatib, who was in contact with Ezz Eddin before his death, told Mada Masr that his family has not pressed any legal charges in relation to his death because they did not support Ezz Eddin’s transition. Doctors Syndicate council member Ibrahim al-Zayat also said that it would be impossible to file a lawsuit to seek justice for Ezz Eddin’s death since there is no proof that the doctor performed the procedure to begin with.

People wishing to have sex reassignment surgery in Egypt have to go through long, complex procedures. They must first apply to the Sex Reassignment Committee at the national Doctors Syndicate, which subjects applicants of the procedure to a series of physical tests. Each case is then reviewed by urologists and gynecologists, and is finally referred to a psychotherapist. The mental assessment process generally takes no less than two years during which time psychologists assess the case and have a say in whether it is “necessary” or not to refer the applicant for surgery. A seven-member committee made up of doctors and one representative from the religious institution of Al-Azhar will make a final decision about whether or not to approve the candidate’s application for surgery.

If approved, the applicant can have surgery at the state’s expense at a public hospital such as Al-Hussein University Hospital, Demerdash or Qasr al-Aini, or at a private hospital, and will be able to acquire the documentation needed to alter the sex recorded in their official documents.

Zayat told Mada Masr that, in practice, the Doctors Syndicate’s committee has not met for years because the Al-Azhar representative refuses to attend, putting thousands of applicants in limbo on a waiting list. 

“I went through all these stages myself. And even though I completed all my sex reassignment surgeries abroad, my papers with the government are still held up awaiting the committee’s approval. Therefore, my identification card still says male,” Kashif said.

The lawyer and Kashif both called on the Health Ministry and the Doctors Syndicate to resume the Sex Reassignment Committee meetings and facilitate surgical procedures at public hospitals to prevent the deaths of others like Ezz Eddin.

“Ezz Eddin and others [like him] are victims of the lack of safe options to exercise their right to transition. There are people who don’t die, but may suffer permanent disabilities as a result of undergoing the procedures in untrustworthy places,” Khatib said.

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