Canadian transgender YouTube personality Gigi Gorgeous says she was detained in Dubai's airport, interrogated for five hours, and summarily denied entry to the United Arab Emirates. An airport security agent in Dubai told her that he was informed that she was transgender, she says, and in a strong reminder that full North American freedoms cannot yet be exported to other parts of the world, she was rejected and sent back home. There remains a dispute about her paperwork: While Gorgeous said her passport clearly lists her as female, airport authorities claimed it lists her as male.
Gorgeous was not engaged in any crime that a Canadian or American might recognize. The U.A.E.'s official reason? "Imitation of women by men" is illegal in there.
Interesting side note about that explanation: Tonight at McGettigan's, an Irish pub in Dubai, they're screening Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie starring Robin Williams imitating a woman, as part of the bar's Monday Movies series at the Jumeirah Lake Towers. No police raids are expected.
Dubai and nearby Abu Dhabi desperately want be taken seriously as players on the world stage, but Western visitors should be aware that freedoms still lag far beyond those cities' abilities to purchase modern trappings. Transgender travelers can take Gorgeous' experience as a warning about vacationing there.