Acceptance for transsexuals in Iran?
Meanwhile, two teens are executed for same-sex acts...
The world is a confusing place sometimes. The Iranian government is of course well-known for its repression of women. Last week reports indicated that two Iranian boys (aged 16 and 18) were brutally executed after being found guilty of engaging in homosexual acts (Update: apparently there is some controversy and confusion over the details of this incident, but same-sex sex IS punishable by death in Iran, and OutRage is sticking by its original story, saying it has reliable sources inside Iran).
Now, of course gender identity and sexuality (i.e. being lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight, etc.) are two totally different things, but I was still surprised to see this piece in the Guardian, "A fatwa for freedom." The article tells the story of a courageous transsexual woman who (after enduring beatings and other hardships) went before the Ayatollah Khomeini 22 years ago and convinced him to issue a fatwa in suport of transsexuals and gender-reassignment surgery. (It's unclear from the piece whether the acceptance extends to trans people who do not have surgery or to trans people who are not transsexual, but my guess from reading is, probably not).
The article language's language is a bit weird, using classic phrases like "women trapped in men's bodies", etc. But the writer uses proper pronouns, and it's still an interesting read, here's the top of the piece:
It could take something extraordinary to move the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa. The novelist Salman Rushdie did it by challenging the sanctity of the Prophet Mohammed in the Satanic Verses, provoking Iran's austere revolutionary leader into pronouncing the death sentence. For Maryam Khatoon Molkara it required the equally dramatic step of confronting Khomeini in person and proving, in graphic terms, that she was a woman trapped inside a man's body.
To do so, she had to endure a ferocious beating from bodyguards before coming face-to-face with the Ayatollah in his living room, covered in blood, dressed in a man's suit and, thanks to a course of hormone treatment, sporting fully-formed female breasts.
"It was behesht [paradise]," Molkara, 55, says of the meeting 22 years ago. "The atmosphere, the moment and the person were paradise for me. I had the feeling that from then on there would be a sort of light." Light or not, the encounter produced, in turn, a religious judgment which - unlike the unfulfilled edict on Rushdie - has had an enduring effect that still resonates. Because today, the Islamic Republic of Iran occupies the unlikely role of global leader for sex changes
In contrast to almost everywhere else in the Muslim world, sex change operations are legal in Iran for anyone who can afford the minimum £2,000 cost and satisfy interviewers that they meet necessary psychological criteria. As a result, women who endured agonising childhood and adolescent experiences as boys, and - albeit in fewer numbers - young men who reached sexual maturity as girls, are easy to find in Tehran. Iran has even become a magnet for patients from eastern European and Arab countries seeking to change their genders.