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:

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


Divided Sisterhoods

It is very obvious from the beginning of the chapter “Sappho by Surgery” that Janice Raymond does not like transsexuals. But she especially mistrusts what she calls “transsexually constructed lesbian-feminists,” or rather, those MTFs who identify as lesbian and are active in feminist organizations.  Raymond believes that “all transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves,” and “in the case of the trannsexually constructed lesbian-feminists their whole presence becomes a ‘member’ invading women’s presence and dividing us once more from each other.” (P.134) She believes that clear boundaries need to be put into place by lesbian-feminists about who can and cannot be a lesbian-feminist, and she asks, “if feminists cannot agree on the boundaries of what constitutes femaleness, then what can we hope to agree on?” (P.137) She wants all the women-born-women to be kept in, and the women-born-men to be kept out.

What may not be immediately obvious from Raymond’s writing, however, is the fact that Raymond herself may in fact be the one spreading this contention. In Carol Riddell’s critique of Raymond’s book, Riddell gives us actual numbers. Where Raymond paints us a picture of transsexual women infiltrating every aspect of lesbian-feminist society, Riddell reminds us that there is “one trans-sexual for every 25,625 people who are not seeking a sex change.” (P.145) Where Raymond basically ignores transsexual men, Riddell explains that she has to deny “the significance of trans-sexual men…for their existence refutes her axiom that trans-sexualism is a creation of man, for ‘men.’” (P. 149)

Raymond’s distrust of transsexual women because of her belief that they are truly men ‘infiltrating’ all-female, all-feminist spaces, seems to hearken back to a time before lesbians were even allowed to be in feminist groups.

It reminds me of the “Lavender Menace.”

The Lavender Menace was a term thought to be coined by writer Betty Friedan. The phrase was in reference to the fact that lesbians were seen as a threat to the growing feminist movement, and the fact that many women within the movement thought that the inclusion of lesbians would make the movement a joke.  The 1970s era lesbians were, of course, denied entry because they were not taken seriously by the world at large rather than because they were a group of infiltrators, but it was still a refusal on the part of early second wave feminists to work in conjunction with a set of people who needed feminism just as much as any other group did. Transsexual women need feminism just as much as anyone else, and to deny them their opportunity to become involved is detrimental to both them and the feminist movement at large.

Karla Jay speaking about the Lavender Menace

-Caitlyn Smallwood