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Monday, February 25, 2008

Transsexuals in Iran.

While homosexuality is forbidden in Iran, and indeed all other Muslim countries, I was fascinated to discover that sex change operations are not painted with the same brush. From the BBC news story:

"Islam has a cure for people suffering from this problem. If they want to change their gender, the path is open," says Hojatol Islam Muhammad Mehdi Kariminia, the religious cleric responsible for gender reassignment.

The problem is that gay people who don't really want to change genders are seeing this as their only opportunity to be able to live out their lives in their home country. While a sex change may obviously still have a social stigma attached, it is not illegal and so many are opting to have the surgery to escape being persecuted as homosexuals. While there is an overlap between the gay and transsexual communities, they are not one and the same, so I pity the poor souls who have to turn their lives upside down to avoid breaking the law. A gay man may act feminine, but it doesn't necessarily mean he wants to be a woman.

A film has been made regarding the case of one such transsexual: Be Like Others.
I'll keep an eye out for it and give a review eventually, I'm sure. I just wish I could see the BBC special on the topic, but unless someone uploads it to the Internet, I doubt I will.

I just wonder what textual interpretation led to such a progressive slant on gender reassignment surgery? I wonder how Kariminia justified his edict? And how brave to risk losing credibility by making such a statement. I've found this page of quotes, but as usual it's all down to interpretation and I'm sure anyone can get whatever perspective they prefer out of the quotes.

Here's another article on the topic. Interesting stuff.

I guess it goes without saying that no mention seems to be made of gay women or female to male sex change operations. I may do some research on the topic.


humble simpleton said...

"Islam has a cure..."
Indeed, and 1+1=2 thanks to islam.
So, first they make living of such people impossible, and then they have a cure. Pure chutzpah :-)
"If I didn't have to operate, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't touch God's work."
Marvelous, he is better muslim than those judging him.
And hey, what's the fuss? There are no gays in Iran. Ahmadinejad said that.

No_Angel said...

Well i think that the permission for sex change is nothing new there, and has been in place since the early days after the revolution.
but the links you have there are pretty interesting, but i'll have to do some more reading on the topic to give any opinion.
As for the documentary, it was only aired yesterday so give it some time (2 days) and our trust worthy pirates will have it up on torrent
cheers and thanks for the material

Anonymous said...

The BBC programme yesterday, Transsexual In Iran, contained some of the clips from Be Like Others - it's possible it was just a shorter version.

The transsexuals weren't accepted by society before the op (they could be arrested for walking around in women's clothing by the morality police). After their op, many were disowned by their families - some turned to prostitution (described as 'temporary marriages') to survive.

Qu.ing said...

I think that gays in Iran are treated in a really bad way , and as you said being gay doesn't mean that you need to like like a woman.

I've watched the documentary and it was a little bit disturbing for me but I really would like to see the movie "be like others"

TeacherLady said...

Humble, long time no see! Hope you're doing well.
No_Angel, yeah this is something I hadn't heard about until recently, but I see from the information I found that it's been around a while. I'll hunt for the documentary as soon as I remember to and I have the time...
Anon, thanks for stopping by with the info!
Qu.ing, thanks for visiting too. I hope to see you here again in the future.

Mame du Bois said...

The doco Be Like Others and the BBC documentary are the same but just rebranded for release.


It is available online but I can't remember where (it was Google or Yahoo). There is also this documentary - It is broken down into smaller chunks title starting with "Birthday(one)":