Transsexuality in Iran

Throughout this class we have covered how trans-identities inform other aspects of the self through politics, privilege, and a few other ways. One thing that we haven’t discussed is the how the matter of faith often intersects with trans-identities. This week is the first time that faith (or to be more precise, religion) has been worked into a trans-narrative.  I personally find this fascinating, as most people are under the impression that most religions are against any form of trans-expression, even though that might be entirely accurate.

In Be Like Others, we see how religion intersects with trans-identities in positive, negative, and fairly neutral ways. The documentary takes place in Iran, an Islamic state, meaning that the majority of its laws come directly from the Quran. Since there is no religious restriction on corrective surgery, the Iranian government, medical professionals, and many trans* individuals have interpreted that as the Quran being okay with medically transitioning. This has worked itself into the legal realm in Iran, where the government will pay up to half the cost of the surgery for those who need and will change their birth certificate accordingly.

While this is all well and good, there are some seriously problematic issues in this practice, primarily when regarding people who do not wish to medically transition. In Iran, if trans-folk are approved for SRS then they must undergo treatment as soon as possible. There is no other option. Trans-folk cannot opt out of surgery nor can they openly identify as genderqueer or a non-binary gender. Doing so not only opens them up for harassment, but also legal action because they might be considered a homosexual, which is illegal in Iran. In short, while the medicalization process has done some good for some trans-folk in Iran, the fact that there is a lack of choice in the transition process is extremely problematic. It is great that trans-folk will not have legal action taken against them for how they identify (unlike the rest of the Iranian LGB community), the fact that their identification is treated as a disorder that must be cursed is asinine.

A simple example of why this policy is problematic is this story. The gist of this article is that SRS are often performed haphazardly and that the mental health of trans-folk both before and after SRS seldom goes addressed. A lot of trans-folk experience a great amount of trauma do to poor treatment from their surgeons and therapists. There are many cases of sexual harassment and assault wherein therapists coerce their patients into having sex with them or their surgeons rape them because they know that it is likely that no one will listen to them.

It’s all very interesting how such a religious government can be okay with performing SRS surgeries, yet still have so many issues when dealing with these individuals. What seems like an open-minded interpretation of religious law has turned into yet another measure for the government to exercise control over it’s people. Trans-folk do not have control over their bodies, their identification, or their future in Iran – the government does.

– Kris Krumb

Advertisements

Iran: transsexual, but at what cost?

Watching the “Transgender in Iran” playlist, especially the “Iran: Death to Gays, Surgery For Transsexuals” video, the first thoughts that came to my mind were, “Are you F***ing kidding me?” and the following Scumbag Steve meme: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3pevsn/

According to the videos on the playlist homosexuals in Iran are forced to be recognized as transsexual so they may receive a surgery to make their sexual feelings “normal” rather than worthy of the death penalty. One part that caught my attention is there are different laws for men and women. If a man is caught engaging in homosexual behavior, he is immediately executed. However, if a woman is caught engaging in homosexual behavior, it has to be the third time before she is punished at all (and then it’s “only” lashes). Now let me make myself clear. I am not trying to suggest that I am mad because women are getting less severe punishment for doing something illegal in Iran. What I am saying is that the whole thing is messed up! Just like the Scumbag Steve meme, the Iranian government is saying that homosexuality is wrong, but if it’s two women it’s allowed to a point. No. If you’re going to say that one group of people gets a lesser punishment, then all others committing the same “crime” should get that same punishment. In other words, the Iranian laws against homosexuality are extremely scared of men having sexual contact with men, but not women with women because c’mon “it’s hot!” Are you frigging kidding me?? The problem is I hate when people (governments, news, politicians, etc.) decide they hate or condemn others for their beliefs/practices, yet allow certain people within that “other” to continue with their lives because it’s “not as bad”. What does that even mean? None of it is bad, or horrible, or blasphemy, or whatever else you want to call it! 

So the bottom line is I appreciate that Iran allows transsexualism. I appreciate and am in awe that such a religiously strict country allows operations for individuals to change their bodies in such ways. On the other hand, I have to say F*** you to the Iranian government for picking and choosing what it does and does not ban in such a way which ruins the lives of many people who actually identify as homosexual, not transsexual. These people, who are identifying as transsexual simply to bypass criticism and hatred for being homosexual, are in agony. They are conforming to ridiculous laws, fleeing the country for refuge, and sadly many commit suicide from the pressure of transitioning and being what they are not. 

I would like to add that I it saddens me to know people in Iran and around the globe are forced into categories, situations, lives, etc. which are so far detached from their true selves. To a certain extent it’s great that Iran has the second largest “tranny” population, but at what cost? 

-Jocelyn Crizer