According to the Lebanese Law now, you are either male or female.
TransFocus is the first festival in Lebanon that explores the sub-culture, the challenges, and the hopes of the transgender community of the country. Yesterday at Minus 1, a new art space perched right in the middle of Ashrafieh, two movies – TransAmerica and Tomboy – were screened and a series of heated debates and workshops were organized with AUB’s Faysal al-Kak. What came out of an otherwise rich and successful afternoon was a portrait of a difficult situation for a minority too often abused and pushed to the margins of society.
The topic is complex, so before divulging more details, a few clarifications on terminology are needed. Bekhsoos, a “feminist and queer Arab magazine,” offers a useful dictionary:
Sex: Assigned at birth, either male or female (“the binary system”), based on bodily characteristics like chromosomes, hormones, and internal and external reproductive organs.
Gender (gender identity): The sex that one identifies with internally. Transgender individuals usually are of a different bodily sex.
Sexual orientation: An individual’s attraction (physical, emotional, romantic, spiritual) to another. Gender identity and sexual orientation are separate; a male-to-female or female-to-male person could be gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Transgender: Umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity differs from that assigned to them at birth. It spans from transsexuals to cross-dressers, bi-genders, and other gender-variant people. Transgender individuals may or may not choose to surgically and/or hormonally alter their bodies.
Transsexual: This is not an umbrella term, and usually refers to individuals who plan to transition, or are in the process of transitioning, through surgery or hormone therapy. [NowLebanon]
Apparently the priest is a well-known figure in Lebanon. He is the founder of a spiritual movement called Lo Tedhal, is the author of several books and composed famous hymns. After this scandal though, we won’t be hearing much about him as he will be banned from participating in media and public appearances.
A Lebanese Maronite priest, Father Mansour Labaki, was charged by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with sexually abusing three minors and sentenced to a “life of penitence,” French magazine La Croix reported. According to the Sunday report, the Vatican office charged Labaki on June 19 with the sexual offenses. Labaki, a 73-year-old priest, was “sentenced to a life of prayer and penitence,” and will be banned from exercising his ecclesiastical duties. [NowLebanon]
I am not sure if it’s allowed to put naked pictures of girls in a paper in Lebanon. I don’t know if Annahar did it on purpose or not, but I hope they won’t remove it. However, I can’t find any pictures inside the article (There’s a Fatal Error though) so I guess it’s a matter of time before it gets taken out.
Ania is a Polish woman who has reportedly vowed to travel to every city across the world in a quest to sleep with 100,000 men. She’s planning to visit every city in Poland before going on a world tour, including a stop in Beirut. In fact and according to Annahar, she got the approval to visit Lebanon and do her thing as long as she doesn’t violate any laws.
Obviously this girl is not thinking clearly, because aside from the fact that wanting to have sex with 100,000 is a disturbing idea, she will need some 20 years non-stop to achieve her goal.
Either way, check out Sallim Allawzi’s funny take on the Lebanese who will agree to have sex with Ania, and Elie Marouni’s epic answer:
Here’s a link to her [website] for those interested.
Update: Ania was denied a VISA to Lebanon by the local authorities.
You have to admire Sandrine for her courage to open such a clinic in Lebanon. We can only hope sex or talking about sex will stop being a taboo in Lebanon but it still needs time. Here’s another link to an interview 3 years ago with Dr. Atallah where she shares some of her clients’ stories.
Talking about sex is still “taboo” in our society, Atallah tells NOW. “At first, my friends and relatives did not take me seriously and thought I would not make it and would not work within my specialty field.” She explains that sexual health “is a state of integration and complementarity between the organic, psychological, mental, and social factors of sex. Accordingly, a psychotherapist sometimes plays the role of an expert in sexology. This role is, at other times, played by a gynecologist who makes minor mistakes with patients, hence the need at the outset to hold awareness-raising lectures on sexual health with the participation of gynecologists so that they would know this specialization exists in Lebanon.”
Dr. Atallah noted a drastic “transformation” in her clinic after her televised appearance on LBC show “Lezim Taarif” (You Should Know) in 2010. “I used to get couples with a lukewarm sex life or men with premature ejaculation problems,” explains Atallah. “Yet after my media appearance, people started to acknowledge sexual health and my clinic was flooded with people with different sexual problems than the variety I used to see before. I started welcoming both old and young people. More gays and lesbians are now coming and the nature of sexual consultations has changed.” [Link]
More than 30 Kuwaiti women have filed for divorce after they discovered that their husbands spent the New Yearâ€™s Eve in Lebanon while claiming they were performing Umrah in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. [Link]
I was expecting some sex movie or nude scenes but instead all I got was some dirty talk. It is quite funny how Arabs consider such silly things as scandalous. Also, I had no clue Razan Maghrabi was Lebanese.
As a result of this “scandal”, Razan has encountered a nervous breakdown. [Link]
The television campaign sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and entitled “Lebanon blues” has angered a lot of Lebanese women who claim they are being portrayed in an indecent manner and that the Ministry of Tourism and its minister Fadi Abboud are promoting Lebanon as a country for sex tourism. [Full Response] [Lebanon Blues Ad]
Here’s an excerpt of what came in that response:
“The truth is that we are not â€œfreeâ€ women wearing bikinis and partying all night. The truth is that we are deprived, poor and oppressed. Our bodies which you say are free, are still subject to many social, domestic, legal and economic restraints. We, as injured and humiliated women, ask the Ministry of Tourism to recall this advert immediately and to apologize for this insult. Because out bodies aren’t delicious fruit to offer to consumers so they will visit the â€œhomelandâ€ to pick out what they desire.”
Is it acceptable for the Ministry of Tourism to promote Lebanon as the â€œcabaret of the Middle Eastâ€ to tourists? Can’t it revive tourism without selling women’s bodies? Dear Ministry, how can either we or you accept our bodies becoming the goal and target of the lust of the arriving spenders? How are we supposed to understand that â€œLebanon Bluesâ€ is connected to our naked bodies? How can the Ministry of Tourism promote a message to the whole world that Lebanon is a country which sells its women for the sake of the tourists?
I am not surprised that Fadi Abboud might come out with such ads, he is known to be filthy and vulgar and has reportedly hit a female worker at his ministry few months back. Moreover and to make things worse, he issued a statement today that he wants to go through the Miss Lebanon 2011 applicants this year in order to â€œensure the competitionâ€™s high standardsâ€. [Article]
I wonder how he plans on ensuring the competition’s high standards?
I must agree with Mustapha from BeirutSpring that “itâ€™s very unfortunate that a person with such dubai-esque sensibilities is the one in charge of promoting a place as rich and diverse as Lebanon. Whatâ€™s even more unfortunate is that heâ€™s using Lebanese women as Lebanonâ€™s unique selling point.” [BeirutSpring]