Transsexuality in Iran

While watching the Transgender in Iran playlist, I noticed familiar images from a transgender class I had taken as a freshman. However, this time watching the video clips I understood something that I hadn’t when I first watched them; these surgeries aren’t positive but in fact can cause more harm than good. Many trans people getting these surgeries aren’t trans at all but are actually homosexual. In a country where homosexuality is punishable by death, gender reassignment surgery is a viable option for these people to live their lives freely. Unfortunately, it isn’t really freeing when one has to undergo surgery in order to be accepted in society. And often, these people still aren’t accepted because their families disown them and equate their identity to homosexuality. These people are led to believe and are forced to obtain medical documents stating that what they have is a disease, a mental illness. And as the Verdicts of Science, Rulings of Faith article mentioned, “becoming marked by mental disease made one virtually unemployable” (2) which might explain why so many post-op transsexuals often turn to prostitution for income,

Another problem I noticed when watching the playlist is the clip of the two radio hosts discussing the issue. The one host was talking about the leader, Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, who decided that transsexuality would be legal. He was explaining his view on why homosexuality was illegal while transsexuality was legal and he believed it to be because Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini “had a thing” for transsexuals. This was annoying because as a person in a previous video clip stated, transsexuality was legal because it wasn’t stated in the Koran as a sin as homosexuality was. Even though that radio host annoyed me, he also presented an interesting point. In Iran, he stated, there are two different crimes for homosexuality, one for men and one for women. For male homosexuality, one infraction resulted in death whereas female homosexuals were given three infractions before punishment was given and that punishment was 100 lashes. After the third infraction death was the punishment. If the reason for homosexuality being illegal is that it is considered a repugnant act in the Koran, then why are there different punishments for men and women?

I found a photo essay online of transsexuals in Iran. There are only a few pictures and they are of two different people who met through their experiences. The captions under the pictures describe the stories of the people in the photos. These captions are very similar in detail. Many describe the narrative of many trans people. They were attracted to the opposite genders games, dress, behaviors etc. One even describes that one family was afraid of their son being a homosexual, and because that is illegal in Iran, he underwent surgery to become a woman.

–Casey Born


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