Transsexuals Shall Not Inherit – Law vs Society in Egypt

Wednesday 20 November 201905:00 pm
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"لا ميراث للكافرين"... حرمان العابرين جنسياً من ميراثهم الشرعي

11 years ago, Mohamed Allam was trying to get to his village in the Egyptian governorate of Mounofia to see his father one last time, however his siblings barred him from the condolences, they outright reject his gender identity.

Months after his father passed away, his siblings decided not to distribute any part of the inheritance to anyone. Two years later, they distributed his share of the inheritance amongst them and excluded him. “My sister forged contracts in her name to make it seem like she owned the house.” Allam told Raseef22.

Allam repeatedly tried to get his share of the inheritance either by having a relative or neighbour act as an intermediary between him and his siblings, he even threatened to file a legal complaint against them but all these attempts failed and the reason was as they told him “You are an apostate living a sinful life.”

The young man in his 30’s suffered from gender identity disorder and his family could not accept his condition and before his father died he escaped from his village in order to receive medical treatment in Shebeen el Kom hospital in Mounofia governorate and there he was diagnosed and so began the long journey of his treatment.

Allam was presented to the Sex Correction Committee at the Medical Syndicate in late 2013, and they approved his sex reassignment surgery at the state's expense, and he was also fortunate enough to be able to change his official papers from female to male.

After becoming a male in official papers, Allam returned to his small village, carrying his official papers, the report of the Sex Correction Committee and a fatwa from Al-Azhar regarding his condition to persuade his siblings to give him his rightful inheritance. But the answer was: "No inheritance for you here ... neither a woman’s share nor a man’s".

He tells Raseef22 “they regard me as a homosexual and an infidel because I changed my sex from female to male and they don’t understand that I suffered from Gender identity disorder He tried to sue his family to get his rights but the legal expenses of the lawyers prevented it.

Waste Of Money

The sex correction committee that had approved Allam’s case stopped convening many years ago, so those who wanted sex reassignment surgery had no choice but to turn to private clinics and hospitals.

Khaled (pseudonym) was one of those people and his situation was worse than Allam’s because he could not get an official fatwa that would allow him to correct his sex. His family also decided to deny him his inheritance because they believed he was an infidel and would squander the money.

In an official fatwa about Gender identity disorder the former state Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa said “The surgery called sex reassignment alteration or correction may be performed only in the case of a hermaphrodite who has both male and female organs. As per Sharia Law, one cannot identify hermaphrodites based on their behaviour and orientation except in two cases: firstly if their identity cannot be determined by the characteristics outlined before and secondly if they neither have a penis nor a vagina. If the doctors of the West and their imitators in the East fail to treat what they call Gender dysmorphia psychologically only then can we submit to the fact that there is no other treatment for them except surgery.

An Infidel Can’t Inherit A Muslim

The four schools of jurisprudence in Islam agreed that a Muslim shall not inherit an infidel and an infidel cannot inherit a Muslim, either because of kinship or marriage, because of the Hadith attributed to the Prophet: "A Muslim may not inherit from an infidel nor an infidel from a Muslim” and “two different sects cannot inherit each other”.

Egyptian law originates in Sharia Law, so prohibiting inheritance between Muslims and non-Muslims in accordance with article 6 of the Inheritance Law No. 77 of 1943, which states that inheritance is not prohibited between Muslims and is not prohibited between non-Muslims unless the law of the foreign country prohibits foreigners from inheriting from it”.

“Are transsexuals who have not been brought before the Sex Correction Committee and have had sexual reassignment surgery considered infidels in accordance with Islamic law, and therefore lose their right to inherit?” Raseef22 posed this question to the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta on its website by requesting a fatwa. The answer came two days later that "the subject needs to be investigated and discussed, so contact us by phone to find out more details."

On the phone, Dar al-Iftaa denied that transsexuals were infidels. “Just because they committed one of the great sins does not mean that they left the religion or should not inherit or receive the inheritance allotted to them by Sharia.”

"Sexual reassignment is a crime and is forbidden by law if the person has all the traits of his birth sex," Sheikh Salem Abdul Jalil, former undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf, told Raseef22.

He adds: “As for the issue of families who ostracize children who carry gender reassignment, they did not leave the religion and are not deemed infidels, and therefore may not be deprived of inheritance and they should inherit in accordance to the sex they were at the time of death of the family member''.

Allam was presented to the Sex Correction Committee and his sex reassignment surgery was approved at the state's expense. He was also able to change his official papers from female to male, but when it came to claim his inheritance, Allam did not exist.
To avoid scandal to his mother and daughter, Muhammad, a female to male transexual yielded to family pressure when it came to inheriting his father. He walked away from his inheritance and went to Lebanon where he now resides.

The lawyer and the director of the Women's Centre for Legal Awareness and Guidance, Reda Al-Danbouki, deplores the fact that sexual reassignment is a crime or an infidel act because it is a medical issue that has nothing to do with religion. He adds to Raseef22  "If it is a crime or an infidel act why did Dar al Iftaa authorize the process for a large number of cases previously before the sex correction committee was disbanded?”.

He explained that according to Article 6, non-Muslims includes apostates and infidels, transsexuals did not turn their backs on religion in any way, they are changing their sex due to gender identity dysmorphia but their religion remains the same so they should inherit in accordance with their new gender identity after their documentation regarding their sexual reassignment is completed.

A Man With A Woman’s Share

Ahmed (pseudonym) managed to escape from his small village, before he was forced to marry, and had a sexual reassignment surgery performed in a private hospital, but he received a female inheritance despite his sex being changed in official papers from female to male, his brothers refuse to acknowledge his gender identity disorder and believe he underwent surgery only to get a male share of the inheritance.

Like Allam and Khalid, Ahmed suffered from gender identity disorder from a young age, but he did not have the courage to escape from his home at a young age like Allam did. Once he turned 24, after his mother's death, he fled after being diagnosed with gender dysmorphia.

Ahmed's father died after he had his sexual reassignment surgery. He was fortunate to have changed his identity papers from female to male in just a month, but nevertheless, his brothers do not recognize him as a male.

“They gave me a female share of the inheritance. I am not angry because of the inheritance. I am angry that they are not accepting my new identity.”

"The inheritance of transsexuals is new to Egyptian law," said Hoda Nasrallah, a lawyer for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). “Up till now, no transexuals have filed a case to demand their inheritance”.

"If this happens, the Egyptian court will base its verdict on the papers," she said. "If the transsexual succeeds in changing their gender in official papers, they will get their inheritance according to their new gender," she said. "But nothing is certain, because in practice there is no precedent."

Nasrallah considers that "the main problems of transgender people in Egypt are limited to their inability to change their official papers," and explains that "the process of changing the gender in legal identity has gone through many stages in Egypt. So, there are cases that can't change their official papers.”

According to the lawyer, not changing sex in official papers affects many things, preventing transsexuals from travel, work, legal inheritance, marriage, etc., because their appearance is completely different from their gender in official papers.

She points out that, as the sex correction committee no longer exists, some of them cannot perform the operation because of the high cost and cannot change their legal identity.

Give Up Or We Expose You

Muhammad (pseudonym) has lived in Saudi Arabia for more than 10 years, where he showed symptoms of gender dysphoria and has always refused to wear the abaya and play with girls.

At the age of 16, he returned to his small village in Egypt, and symptoms of gender dysphoria persisted: he used to play football with young mean, wear jeans and had short haircuts, and his father was happy that his only child, a daughter, was a tomboy. "He was happy I was violent, that consoled him for not having a son” he told Raseef22.

Gossip about Muhammad began to spread amongst his relatives and neighbours, the whispers turned into accusations and blame levelled at his family “She’s 16 years old how can you let her be like that.” 

The mother tried to contain the situation and decided to force her "daughter" to cover up and wear modest clothes and was indifferent to his state "I always felt like there was something wrong, I couldn’t understand what. I felt like I was a man to the extent that I fell in love with several girls from school and we got together but then word reached my parents which is why my parents married me off to a man I didn’t know” he recounts.

Muhammad tried to escape several times, but his attempts did not succeed. He married his cousin, and the marriage lasted 10 years, resulting in one child. Muhammad learned about his gender dysphoria from Mohamed Allam, who appeared on a television show with broadcaster Reham Said.

After seeing Muhammad Allam on the program, he contacted him immediately and explained his condition. Allam helped  him and directed him to Al Hussein University Hospital where he received a report of his condition that said “He is psychologically male, has no psychological or medical illnesses and has no homosexual or perverse desires and he played the role of a male to perfection”.

Muhammed had sex reassignment surgery performed in a private hospital in Cairo. After his father died, his uncles brought in thugs, forcing him to give up his inheritance because, from their point of view, he was a gay and an infidel and the reason for his father's death, and threatened to take his daughter from him and expose him in the village.

Muhammad yielded to them fearing for the lives of his mother and daughter. He struggled to get his inheritance and share of the estate, but his uncles gave him no chance, he fled to Cairo and then travelled to Lebanon where he now resides.

Zeinab Ali, a psychiatrist who specializes in transgender cases in Egypt told Raseef22 that the term Gender identity disorder was recently changed to Gender dysphoria which is when a person experiences discomfort with their assigned sex.

She described how these individuals suffer from the lack of acceptance of others and accusations of immorality, disbelief and homosexuality by society and parents, and are forced to live a double life. In the privacy of their rooms, if they have a chance they exist with the gender that they want and dress in what makes them feel comfortable and behind their phone screens they speak with the pronouns that they want and they give themselves the names that they choose in secrecy away from their loved ones and in public life they struggle to adapt to the wrong sex which is like a prison cell to them.

What To Do?

Lawyer Reda Danbouki told Raseef22 that there is no Law in Egypt regulating the inheritance of transsexual people, and no one knows how the court will deal with such a case.

However, in general, in accordance with amendments to some provisions of Law No. 77 of 1943 on inheritance published in the Official Gazette on December 30, 2017, the penalty for intentionally refusing to hand over an inheritance to a legal heir, withholding the inheritance deed or refusing to hand it over in the event of him requesting it from any of the rightful heirs are 6 month imprisonment and a fine of 20 to 100 thousand pounds, or the two penalties.

On this basis, the transsexual person may appeal to the competent court and prosecute those who fail to hand over the inheritance.

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