Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
Can you please tell me if the Qurʾān or ḥadīth (islamic source texts) mention how transsexual people should live? Is it permissible for them to change gender? Are they allowed to marry? I feel for them and do understand they suffer a pain with no bounds. Would appreciate very much if you can enlighten me with the knowledge of Islam regarding the issue.
In the Name of Allāh, Most Merciful, Most Kind
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for your question.
Transgender and transsexual people should not be confused with intersexes.
People who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they have been born into the ‘wrong body’. These individuals can gain psychological, emotional treatment and guidance through counselling and therapy.
Intersexes are people having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics of both male and female. The Islamic rulings regarding them is to determine their gender as best as possible, as specified below. If there are more masculine traits and signs, then they are to be treated and dealt with as males. If there are more signs of femininity, then the rules of females will apply.
Some jurists base the verdict, looking at signs before and after puberty.
Signs of masculinity and maleness:
- To urine from the penis
- Semen discharge from penis
- Beard growth
- Is able to impregnate
- Possesses general male habits, actions and demeanours
Signs of femininity:
- To urinate from vaginal urethra
- To experience menses
- Breasts growth
- Having breast-milk
- Pregnancy and or childbirth
These individuals are to be respected, integrated in society and treated well, just as anyone else is. They may marry and pray in congregation as well.
There are countless opinions amongst the jurists, regarding the ‘al khunthā al mushkilah’ (when masculinity and femininity signs are equal in all perspectives). Each specific case may require analysis and the ruling is given accordingly.
It is prohibited to have a sex reassignment surgery according to Islamic guidelines, since Islamic teachings require its adherents to understand that humans do not have absolute autonomy over their bodies. Muslims are encouraged to follow the laws of the Qurʾān and dictates of the ḥadīth.
It must also be noted that transgenders and intersexes are not to be discriminated against. They deserve equality in the communities.
(See: Al Mawsūʾat Al Fiqhīyyah)
And Allāh Knows Best