A trans-Thai model who had travelled to Dubai to appear at Expo 2020 which is being held in the emirate was rejected at the border by immigration guards because her passport still labels her gender as ‘male’.
Rachaya Noppakaroon had arrived at Dubai International Airport (DXB) with a team of 14 earlier this month but Rachaya says that even though she completed all the required documents for her visit, she was stopped from entering Dubai and detained at the airport for hours.
For most of the nine hours that Rachaya was held at the airport, she was forced to wait in a male-only holding room despite the fact she identifies as female and has completed gender reassignment surgery.
During her interrogation, Rachaya says immigration guards asked her about the size of her breasts and whether she had “done it all” in reference to surgery. They also asked her insensitive questions like whether she was able to bear children.
In a March 16 Facebook post, Rachaya detailed her experience at the hands of Dubai’s immigration authorities. She says she tried to show one guard rehearsal clips of the show she was due to appear in at Expo but he “was more interested in sex”.
Rachaya was eventually taken to a hotel for the night where she says she cried in-between moments when she managed to get some sleep. The following morning she was escorted to an Emirates flight and deported from Dubai.
According to VICE World News, the authorities in the UAE does not recognise transgender people and it remains illegal to present as anything other than the sex you were born as.
Despite this, however, Rachaya doesn’t necessarily blame Dubai for turning her away. Instead, she is angry that Thai law still prevents her from changing her gender on her passport.
“I hope they will see that it’s something that needs to be fixed,” she said.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.