TV & Radio
Published: 09/02/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)
A sex change operation
By Mariam Al Hakeem, Gulf News Correspondent
Makkah: Riyadh Reem never felt much like a girl when she was growing up. In fact, from the beginning Reem said she felt more like a boy.
"This feeling started growing with me, making me reject any gift that reminded me of being a girl. Throughout my 29 years, I never played with dolls. Instead I used to play football with my brothers and boys in the narrow lanes of our congested district," Reem told Gulf News.
After medical tests confirmed that she had more male hormones than female ones, Reem began the long and arduous process of becoming a man and taking the name Khalid.
Born in Makkah, Reem studied at Saudi girl's schools from kindergarten through high school, travelling south to Yemen for college.
"I didn't want to be a girl, to do girls things and wear girl's dresses, and this caused a lot of psychological trauma. I wanted to erase all my girlish qualities from my mind and memory," she said.
"I used to show great resistance to wearing the abaya, especially when I was promoted to first year intermediate, a stage where all girls should wear the abaya to cover their bodies from head to toe."
Reem said other children noticed she was different early on as well.
"My classmates used to make fun of me and tease me by calling me 'girl-boy' because I displayed masculine manners and qualities.
"All these years I had been living with a terrible psychological conflict because of my inclination towards the world of men. I had never thought any day that I was a girl," she said.
In fact, Reem said she kept aloof from girls and women and never liked socialising with women because of her masculine voice and structure of her body.
As a teenager, her body began developing a "woman's features". Reem also had to shave her face when she went to college, in part to hide her masculine features.
All this made Reem conclude that she really should have been a man.
Upon completing her university education in Yemen, Reem returned to the Kingdom and visited several doctors, all of whom confirmed she has more male hormones.
They recommended that her breasts be surgically removed. However, the doctors also said that there was a problem performing a complete sex change operation in Saudi Arabia.
However, fate intervened to help Reem to become Khalid right here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
"One day, I got sick and accidentally visited a doctor at Baksh Hospital in Jeddah who assured me it was possible to conduct a sex change operation here. He referred me to a plastic surgeon who successfully operated on me.
"I could not believe my eyes that I was able to leave the hospital wearing thobe and shemakh and carrying my new name Khalid," the 29-year-old new man said.