Being Transgender in Kuwait: “My Biggest Fear Is a Flat Tire”

Human Rights Watch
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July 18, 2013

On a warm evening in late April 2013, I was sitting at a Starbucks in Kuwait City across the table from a thirty-one year old woman. Even though “Reem” had undergone male-to-female surgery almost a decade earlier, legal barriers prevented her complete transition to womanhood.

Reem still wore a bulky suit and tie every day to her office to conceal the fact that she was now a woman. When she would go out as herself, she would have to borrow her sister’s ID; luckily, they have similar features.

At the time, I was visiting Kuwait on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to determine whether the Kuwaiti government had taken steps to end abuses against members of the transgender community, which HRW had documented in its 2012 report, They Hunt Us Down for Fun.