For a UAE city, Dubai is relatively liberal. Yet, many trans people and their partners find themselves limiting their interactions to their social circle to be on the safe side. There’s no denying that this can get tiring at one point. More and more people are turning to online sites in the hope of meeting “the one.”
Dubai has a vast trans community with foreign and local members and Dubai trans dating is not prohibited as long as you don’t “get caught.” There are many trans people from Thailand, the US, the Philippines, India, Canada, and Russia in the city.
Still, it’s necessary to take protective measures in your daily life if you are trans. Trans women in Dubai wear long, flowy black dresses called Abaya so nobody will notice their sexual characteristics. Women in some Middle Eastern countries are beginning to break away from the Abaya and the oppression they symbolize.
Dress as a man if your passport lists your gender as male. There are plainclothes police officers in public areas who are tasked with surveillance. Don’t wear any jewelry or makeup because you risk being identified as trans. This violates UAE law, according to which it is forbidden to be “a man dressing up as a woman.”
If you are trans, it’s probably best not to use the restroom of your preferred gender, especially in public buildings. You might get apprehended. Locals recommend trans women wear oversized clothes to cover their chest. Do not talk to overly friendly strangers; they might be undercover police officers.
Do not go to the beach if you’re trans. Avoid public displays of affection even in one of the city’s crowded bars.
Avoid sharing personal information on social media. Social media profiles are closely monitored in Dubai.
Why live or even go to Dubai as a trans person with all these obstacles? Sometimes, it’s unavoidable, like if you need to travel there for work. It might be a fun holiday destination, but chances are it won’t be for trans people with so many precautions to take.
To sum up, Dubai is best avoided. You’ll find people in international hubs in the city to be tolerant, but you just never know, and it’s really not a risk worth taking.