The UAE is an Islamic country that follows Islamic law. The city of Dubai specifically has what locals call the “unwritten” rule – if no one catches you, you’re not guilty. Admittedly, this goes for most countries. When we talk about being safe as a trans person in Dubai, however, this rule becomes more pertinent than ever. Here are our tips on how to visit Dubai safely if you are trans.
If your passport states you are male, dress as a man. At the airports, there are plainclothes police officers who walk around and watch everyone. Don’t wear any makeup, jewelry, or anything else that might identify you as female. Some trans people who have lived in Dubai even encourage fellow members of the community to try to walk like men if they are biologically male and vice versa. Do not go to the female restroom if you are MTF and vice versa – you risk getting arrested.
Trans women might need to wear bulky, thick clothes to cover their chests. Trans people are advised not to talk to strangers even if they seem friendly. They could be undercover cops.
Most trans women openly live as women in the UAE, but they take measures to protect themselves. Typically, they wear Abaya, the oversized black dress women wear in the Middle East. This way, nobody bothers them at all. Dubai actually has a huge trans community with local as well as foreign members. Trans dating in Dubai isn’t forbidden as long as no one catches you. There are many trans people from the US, the Philippines, Canada, India, Russia, Thailand, and other countries.
Once you’re in the country, do not talk to other women, especially in public restrooms getting your makeup done. You don’t want to be reported. Don’t go to government buildings dressed as a female and avoid PDAs. This actually goes for everyone in Dubai, heterosexual or homosexual, trans or not. Plainclothes policemen can lurk even in bars and clubs full of foreigners.
This next tip might seem obvious, but don’t go to the beach. Ever.
Social media is monitored closely in this country, so it’s best not to post or share anything on your social media profiles.
Ultimately, trans people in the city of Dubai mustn’t forget that they are entering or are already in a Muslim country. The country has laws that have to be respected.
Take our advice if you have to go to Dubai for some reason and you are trans. There are legitimate reasons for this, such as business. If you don’t have to go to Dubai, then just don’t. You don’t belong in a place that is going to be intolerant and disrespectful of you.