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Wife Seeks Divorce Because I’m Transgender

Questioner

A

Reply Date

Aug 11, 2017

Question

As-Salaamu Alaikum. My marriage is threatened. To begin with, I am an American revert just like my wife. My wife asked me for divorce because she was worried she was jeopardizing her soul by being with me because I was actually born as a female but undergoing a doctor’s care to change. Yes, I was born female, but since I was a toddler, I never felt like a girl. I always felt like a boy, presented as a boy no matter what my parents did. Even when forced to dress in girls clothes and have long hair, I was perceived as a boy. My mannerisms and thinking were males. I even stated I was going to grow up to be a boy when I was a child. This caused me much torment emotionally and physiologically. I did not complete many things in life because of this. As with most people like me, I tried to take the path of homosexuality, but the label of lesbian and presenting as a lesbian felt very wrong to me. I would cry and beg God to change me to a boy or take my life. When I discovered Islam, I was in a long term relationship with a woman as a lesbian. This was an emotionally abusive relationship, but when I decided to embrace Islam my relationship ended. I tried to reconcile practicing Islam as a woman but that too felt wrong. I prayed so much for Allah (SWT) to help me be able to practice Islam in a way that I could comfortably and still be able to practice with the Ummah without any problems. When I decided to seek help for my gender issues. I prayed for guidance and ease if this was something acceptable. I was able to seek a therapist and physician who diagnosed me as having gender identity dysphoria. I started hormone treatments and from the first dose without any physical changes, I had a mental calm I had never had in my life. My wife and I began dating not long after I began treatments. She had not explored Islam yet and I was still fairly new, but I knew Allah had sent me a mercy. Shortly after we got together, my wife read the Quran and found interest in Islam. I knew I needed to do things properly and marry her. After a year, I proposed and I had changed my documents as much as one could in my state so I was presenting and living life as a man legally. We took Shahadah together as man and wife with her two children. Now, after two years of marriage, she says she has been plagued with the thought she is going to be condemned to Hell because we are together. She presents to me the case of the people of Lut and the hadith of cursed are men who imitate women and vice versa. She says that it is black a white that I am a woman pretending to be a man and thus a lesbian and that is prohibited. I attempted to explain to her that it is not the same. We go to masjid together; we live life as husband and wife. I have not yet been able to afford any surgeries, but Inshallah that will come. She is so afraid she wants to give up a stable home as a family and risk being a single mother on a low income with two children. I know that my journey is in the hands of Allah, and I have always prayed for guidance in this. I tried to tell her that there are scholars, learned men, who agree that this is a medical condition for which there is a cure that is acceptable if the person’s intentions are correct and approved by physician and physiologist. There are many transgendered Muslims who are married and living healthy productive lives. I don't know what else to say to her or what facts to present to her. Please help if you can. Jazakallah khair.

Counselor

Answer


Wife Seeks Divorce Because I’m Transgender

In this counseling answer:

“If indeed you are within your Islamic rights medically, I would further suggest that you both engaged in marital counseling as well as counseling with a trusted Imam if your wife agrees. If she does not, then the only recourse you have is to heal from this breakup and possibly seek friendship among Muslims who were born as hermaphrodites and can relate to your situation in a loving way. I would also suggest that you join an Islamic group those born as hermaphrodites as it may prove in sha’ Allah to be of great benefit to you both spiritually as well as socially.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum,

Thank you for writing to us with your most important question. I am not an Islamic Scholar so I will refer you to our ‘Ask the Scholar” section on AboutIslam. However, there is a fatwah which I will include before I address this issue from an emotional/psychological stance. First, according to our scholar, changing genders is prohibited as it is changing what Allah (swt) has created. The exception is in a medical/genetic case, for example, hermaphrodites who were born with the genitalia of both male and female. Therefore, our scholar says “the major Fiqh assemblies regarding sex change operations: Decision (11/5)of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Muslim World League, Makkah, Rajab13th – 20th, 1409 A.H. /February 19th – 26th, 1989 C.E.:

First: The change is not legally permissible if the person (male or female) hascomplete male or female sex organs. This is because this person would be seeking to change Allah’s creation, which is forbidden by Allah Almighty as in the verse in which Allah reports Satan as saying,

“…and surely I will command them and they will change Allah’s creation.” (4:119)‎

Second: The change is permissible if a person has sex organs that carry thefeatures of both the male and female sex (a hermaphrodite). In this case, those in charge should decide if the organs tend to be more feminine, then the personshould be helped either by surgery or hormonal treatment to be confirmed into the female gender, and vice versa. The change in such a case is considered a means of treatment to help a sick ‎‎person overcome his illness, not a change of Allah’s creation”.

While you stated it was more of a “feeling” and an emotional need to change to a man, you did not mention if there was a medical/genetic disorder. You did state that you planned to have the surgeries at a later date when you could afford them. It is unclear in your question if you do in fact possess both genitalia, however, you stated that “there are scholars, learned men, who agree that this is a medical condition for which there is a cure that is acceptable if the person’s intentions are correct and approved by physician and physiologist”. Therefore, I do suggest you seek counsel with one of our scholars and bring the proofs for which you referenced above.

Emotionally, I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel you are born in the “wrong body.” I have counseled transgender people; however, they were not Muslims, and my therapy was confined to assisting them with issues of anxiety, depression and so on. The issues were independent of their gender status and had to do more so with a chronic illness or relationship issues. As you stated, you and your wife were together and married, she obviously knew who you were and what your intentions were. This, of course, was prior to her knowledge of Islam. While you both have built a bond and love each other, it appears to me that she is naturally putting Allah (swt) first as well as her hereafter, as we all should do. It is a sad situation as a decision must be made in accordance with Allah’s commands.

I understand there must be a lot of stress, sadness, and anxiety concerning this issue. Try to be kind to yourself during this time, as well as your wife. Be open to other opinions and proofs as communication is going to be essential. You as well need to be able to be in a place wherein you are open to hearing evidence, even though they may hurt. Allah (swt) knows best. At this point, ask your wife for patience and a little time while you get your medical proofs. As I am sure, emotions are running high, with your wife rightful being concerned about this marriage and her relationship with Allah (swt). As a Muslim, I am sure you can understand this. As she is not in your position (transgender), she cannot understand what it feels like to be you. However, she is doing her best to please Allah (swt), and may Allah (swt) reward her for her efforts at trying to understanding the situation, even if it means dissolving the marriage.

I urge you to sit with your wife when things are calm and discuss the medical proofs that you have that are in alignment with the teachings of Islam and the scholar’s opinion. If indeed you are within your Islamic rights medically, I would further suggest that you both engaged in marital counseling as well as counseling with a trusted Imam if your wife agrees. If she does not, then the only recourse you have is to heal from this breakup and possibly seek friendship among Muslims who were born as hermaphrodites and can relate to your situation in a loving way. I suggest this due to the high stigma attached to your possible medical condition and I am trying to guide you to a place wherein you will be understood.

I would also suggest that you join an Islamic group those born as hermaphrodites as it may prove in sha’ Allah to be of great benefit to you both spiritually as well as socially. Often times, others cannot understand what it is like to suffer from a medical/genetic disorder such as yours. The journey may not be easy, but in sha’ Allah, with prayer and sincere du’aa’, Allah (swt) will grant ease.

You are in our prayers. Please do consult our “Ask the Scholar” section, and let us know how you are.

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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