For fifteen years, Fatima Abed Rabbo lived as a girl in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya. She wore girl's clothing, and went to an all-girl's school.
But shortly after turning 12, Fatima, now renamed Odai, recalls undergoing changes: "I was normal. I used to be a girl and my name was Fatima. Before my father found out and the doctors checked me, I felt like a girl. But after I turned 12 years old, I began feeling more like a boy than a girl."
Majd Abed Rabbo, Odai's father, said that following several medical tests, a hormonal imbalance was detected in Odai. The results showed that Odai had high levels of testosterone and needed a sex-change operation.
He is not the only transgendered person in his family. Odai's cousin was once a female named, "Ola". Now he is a male named, "Nader".
The decision to pursue a sex change, Majd maintains, was a difficult one. Gaza's conservative society, along with difficult economic conditions, made it extremely difficult to take this life-altering decision.
But about five months ago, Majd said, a team of Spanish Urologists performed the operation: "Here in the Gaza Strip, the doctor wanted to charge $3,000 per surgery (out of a total of three). Since I could not afford that, I decided to go abroad.
"While making travel arrangements, a Spanish medical delegation specializing in Urology happened to be visiting the Strip. So I went to al-Awda hospital and met with the doctors. The (Spanish) doctor checked him just two days before he traveled back. He performed only one surgery instead of three," Majd said.
Odai will continue to receive testosterone injections for the next eight months, and will have to undergo an additional surgery which will link Odai's penis to his urine tract.
"I feel much more comfortable now, I feel like I was born again. I feel free. Anyway, I prefer now to be male because this society privileges males over females. The women in our society are not respected, and their ideas are not respected either. This society is much more acceptant of males than females," said Odai.