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May 6, 2021 1:25 pm
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Transgender Israelis Detained by Egypt at Sinai Border Because ‘We Didn’t Look Female’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The entrance to the Egyptian Taba Border Terminal at the Sinai border. Photo: NYC2TLV/Wikimedia.

Two transgender Israelis were detained by Egyptian border guards in the Sinai on Thursday, reportedly because they did not appear to belong to the sex they claimed.

Or Mizen and Titi Katan, who are both transgender men, had planned a five-day vacation at Ras el-Satan, a tourist destination on the Sinai coast.

They crossed over the Israeli side of the border without incident, N12 reported, but were detained by guards on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

The two said that their documents and payments were in order, and they had arranged for an Egyptian taxi driver to pick them up at the border crossing.

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“We wanted to clear our heads from the era of corona,” they said. “In the morning we arrived at the Egyptian side of the border crossing, and we handed our passports to the officers there.”

“They looked at the pictures and started laughing with each other,” they went on. “They showed each other the passports, pointed at us and at the pictures and laughed.”

The issue, Katan and Mizen said, was that their sex was listed as “female” on their passports, but their physical appearance was masculine, as they both identify as men.

“The officers looked at us and said that they don’t let trans people into Sinai, that it’s against the Islamic religion,” the two said.

“They said that we didn’t look female and because of that they weren’t prepared to let us enter,” they explained. “We were shocked, we tried to explain there’s no problem with this in the entire world, but they took our passports for examination and looked at the pictures as if we were wanted (criminals).”

“It was a horrible feeling,” they recalled.

Mizen and Katan said that they were treated in a disrespectful way, saying, “They’re relating to us like garbage water. … Every so often a senior officer comes out, talks with someone on the telephone, looks at us, laughs, and goes back. We tried to talk to them in Arabic and explain the situation to them, but it doesn’t help.”

A similar incident occurred three years ago, when Egyptian border guards refused to allow Atalia Israeli-Nevo, a transgender Israeli, to enter Sinai, saying she was required to change her passport photo and her designated sex to female.

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