Dec 18 2009
Rare gender identity defect, male pseudohermaphrodism, the result of Muslim inbreeding, is taking a toll on Gaza.
“It is astonishing that we have [so] many cases with this defect, which is very rare all over the world,” Abudaia says. He attributes the high frequency of this birth defect in Gaza families to “consanguinity,” or in-breeding.
Gaza City (CNN) — Nadir Mohammed Saleh and Ahmed Fayiz Abed Rabo are cousins and next-door neighbors. With their gelled hair, buttoned-down shirts and jeans, they look much like any other 16-year-old Palestinian boy. But looks, Ahmed says, can be deceiving. “Only my appearance, my haircut and clothing, makes me look like a boy,” Ahmed says, gesturing with his hands across his face. “Inside, I am like a female. I am a girl.”
Until last summer, both Nadir and Ahmed were — for all intents and purposes — girls. They wore female headscarves, attended girls’ school and even answered to the female first names Navin and Ola. Both Nadir and Ahmed were born with a rare birth defect called male pseudohermaphrodism.
Deficiency of the hormone 17-B-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17-B-HSD) during pregnancy left their male reproductive organs deformed and buried deep within their abdomens.
At birth, doctors identified Nadir and Ahmed as girls, because they appeared to have female genitalia. As a result, they spent the first 16 years of their lives dressing and acting like girls. It was a role that grew increasingly difficult to play, as they hit puberty and their bodies began generating testosterone, resulting in facial hair and increasingly masculine features.
Finally, on June 22, with the support of their families, both Nadir and Ahmed transformed themselves into boys.
There are an unusually high number of male pseudohermaphrodite births in the Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya, where Nadir and Ahmed live. Dr. Jehad Abudaia, a Canadian-Palestinian pediatrician and urologist practicing in Gaza, says he has diagnosed nearly 80 cases like Nadir’s and Ahmed’s in the last seven years.
“If you want to go to the root of the problem, this problem runs in families in the genes.” Abudaia says. “They want to get married to cousins… they don’t go to another family. This is a problem.”
This unusual ritual has been performed several times in the extended family of Nadir and Ahmed, where sex differentiation is a recurring disorder.
Though Nadir and Ahmed clearly have the love and support of their family, they say that is not enough. They are appealing to the international community to help them get the expensive and complicated sex-change operations they say they need to live normal lives. (Yeah right, let me get my checkbook)
Until the sex-change operation is completed, Palestinian officials won’t change the gender on their identity cards to “male,” thus restricting their access to higher education.
In addition, Nadir and Ahmed complain of health problems like kidney infections due to complications resulting from the disfigurement of their genitalia. Until then, these troubled Palestinians say their genders and their identities will remain in conflict, much like the land around them. (Here’s an idea, don’t **** your cousin) CNN H/T Auntie Madder