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After being told by an airport worker that she could not enter the country because she was transgender, Gigi’s passport was confiscated and she was made to wait with her team as her friends and family at home helped sort out the predicament. Gigi later said she felt like she was having a panic attack, and was forced to sit on the floor while crying her eyes out filled with feelings of fear, anger, and confusion.
Gigi was forced to wait for nearly two hours while immigration processed her situation, and by this time she had already made arrangements to leave the country. “To be real, this kind of discrimination knocked me on my a** […] I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be denied from Dubai. I took all the precautions and still, because somebody knows that I’m transgender, I have to go through all of this? That’s bulls**t, and that’s also really, really scary to everyone who’s transgender out there. I really urge you not to come to Dubai.”
Hear everything Gigi had to say in a YouTube video she posted to her channel during the ordeal. The video contains strong language.
What Happens Next?
After the incident was all over, Gigi posted an Instagram of her girlfriend coming to her rescue after being held in Dubai airport. She wrote, “After being detained and held at the Dubai airport for over 5 hours, this was the moment by baby came to rescue me. Yesterday was one of the scariest moments of my entire life and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. How you can be denied entry somewhere just because of who you are is seriously disgusting and also very scary. This further proves the need for CHANGE. I am now on my way to somewhere much more accepting. Safe and sound and happy.”
So what happens next? Sadly, nothing, at least not for the time being. Transgender rights are still volatile in the United States—not that we are anything special in terms of social equality, especially when compared to other nations like Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries. It’s ludicrous at this point in time to think that any devoutly religious country, especially where the harsher elements of Sharia law are commonplace and enforced both for citizens and foreigners, would so quickly or nonchalantly make a move towards gender equality or equity for the LGBT community.
One of the saddest realizations in life, especially for minorities of any kind, is that there are some places where we are simply not safe. Far more than simply being unwelcome, there are towns, cities, and entire nations where we put our safety and lives at risk simply because of who we are or who we appear to be. This truth is especially difficult after coming from more privileged countries like the UK, Canada, and the United States.
Luckily for Gigi, she has the voice, influence, and following to make a difference, if not in how the UAE treats travelers both foreign and domestic, at least in how the rest of the world views their strict, dangerous, and draconian system of crime and punishment. The more people that refuse to visit or patronize a city or country that does not embrace the liberal ideals of the world it so clearly emulates, the more the government there can realize it might be time for the change that Gigi and countless others are calling for.
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