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Case No 61/1992 – Lebanon

Litigation Degree: First
Case No: 61/1992
Issuing Court: Court of First Instances 
Judgement: Unfavourable, the request for legal gender recognition was denied
Judgement Date: 22/05/1992

The plaintiff lodged a petition before the Beirut Court of First Instance to rectify her personal information in official records in accordance with her gender affirming surgery from male to female. Nonetheless, the court rejected the petition on the grounds that modifications to official data should not be driven by personal preferences, and that the surgery was conducted without urgent medical necessity and failed to effectively alter the plaintiff’s biological sex, as evidenced by the presence of predominantly male chromosomes. Furthermore, the court based its decision on prior rulings of the French Court of Cassation in comparable instances.

The plaintiff X lodged a claim before the single judge in Beirut, seeking the alteration of her personal data in government and official records, including a change of name to Jehan, in order to align with her external appearance after the correction of her gender from male to female. The plaintiff, who was born male in 1929 and exhibited female characteristics from a young age, has been subjected to social harassment. During the proceedings, a request was made to hear the testimony of the surgeon who performed the plaintiff’s surgery, in order to provide insight into her psychological and physical condition before the operation and the criteria used to assess the suitability for the surgery. The Court also referred the plaintiff’s condition to another qualified medical professional to evaluate her psychological and physical condition following the surgery. Furthermore, the plaintiff invoked Article 21 of Decree 8837, which addresses rectification of personal limitations if the current physical reality contradicts official documents.

The court dismissed the plaintiff’s application on five grounds. Firstly, the court determined that sex and name are immutable because they are tied to an individual’s legal personality and cannot be altered based on circumstances or preferences. Secondly, the court relied on the plaintiff’s testimony, stating that she was born male in 1929, married twice with two daughters from each marriage in 1954 and 1968, and only lived as a female for a brief period of less than 15 years. Thirdly, the court’s judgement was based on the testimony of a surgeon (though not conclusive), who identified three criteria for determining human sex: genitals, psychological condition, and chromosomal analysis. However, it was revealed that the plaintiff still possessed male chromosomes and that the surgery to remove male organs was performed without medical necessity but rather at the plaintiff’s own will and desire. The procedure failed to provide her with a womb and ovaries, therefore not successfully altering her biological sex to female. Fourthly, the court considered the plaintiff’s psychological distress caused by transsexualism, a psychological condition characterised by a strong desire to belong to the opposite sex. However, the court ruled that official records could not be modified to align with the plaintiff’s psychological condition, as this would contradict her biological status. Finally, the court deemed its decision to be a balancing act between the individual’s interests and those of society, favouring the latter based on a previous decision made by the French Court of Cassation on 21/5/1990. Consequently, the plaintiff’s application was subsequently rejected.

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