Does Gay-Hating Iran Actually Embrace Its Transexuals?

It’s easy to associate Iran with nuclear weapons, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pretending all of zero gay people live there (then backtracking and insisting only that they aren’t executed), and “Persia.” But here’s something that might surprise you: It’s also home to government-sanctioned sex change operations. Yes, Iran, a Muslim country of 70 million people led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and infamous for its treatment of women and gays (so bad that some flee the country to seek asylum elsewhere), appears to have little problem nip-tucking its citizens from boys to girls and vice versa. There, identifying as trans is viewed as an illness with a cure. Is this a society that actually believes transgendered men and women are all god’s creatures?

That’s one of many things we learned watching the documentary Transsexual in Iran (or Tanaz Eshaghian), which was recently uploaded in full to YouTube. If you watch all eight parts, you’ll have to give up a full 60 minutes of your day. And it’ll be worth it.

One thing we’re left questioning, though, is how often gay men and women — who might be a little too feminine or masculine for their prescribed gender — are pressured into a sex change to fit in, since their same-sex attractions are sacrilegious.

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  • Qjersey

    “One thing we’re left questioning, though, is how often gay men and women — who might be a little too feminine or masculine for their prescribed gender — are pressured into a sex change to fit in…”

    Think that statement applies to western culture too, especially for gay men.

    Effeminate men are openly disdained, but you can be a big queen, as long as you look “Masculine”

  • Chitown Kev

    I have to watch this but, alas, I’m at work so I have to wait until I get home.

    One thing I will note is that in Arab countries (the most studied example is the “xanith” in Oman) transgenders don’t have to actually go through the sex change. I am not sure whether there is a Sunni/Shia split on the question or a Arab/Persian split on the question of sex roles.

  • Schwarma King

    Praise Allah! I was born in Tehran and immigrated when I was young. I now live in NYC just in the village and work at a center for trangendered youth. It was very hard for my parents to accept who I was and I almost committed suicide many times. My wrists look like a map of lower manhattan with all the scar tissue. But I am beautiful, through vigourous daily injections of hormones and well balanced diet, and the many wonders of MAC make-up, you would pass by me on 8th Avenue at night and never know I was born a man. My father (he drives a taxi) divorced my mother he says because of me and in my culture it would also be a sin. Things are different here in America and more progressive in Iran. Maybe we should all learn a lesson from Iran.

  • chris


    you’re an ass

  • Schwarma King


    i’ve worked hard all my life to work against the stigma of you people ButtMunch. I can only say that may your god have mercy on you when you die of AIDS

  • Erick

    @Schwarma King:

    You know for someone who is reacting to an inappropriate comment, yours is not that much better.

  • msim

    In Iran, and in most of the world actually, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the grey areas of gender and sexuality.

    Iran maintains that only heterosexuality exists; therefore it will strongly (as in intimidate) “deviants” to conform. That includes cutting off bits.

  • Lawrence

    what about female to male transsexuals? They are transgender too… Does Iran allow that? I somehow doubt it…

  • sal

    i knew about this for quite some time,funny in a way how a society can b

  • sal

    this doc is sad,weirdly i understand the pressure lol

  • htfaul

    @Lawrence: Did you not see the women near the beginning who was transitioning to become a man? She talks about growing a beard. Everything I’ve read about transsexuals seem to show that there is a greater number of male to female than female to male. Iran allows both.

    I know this is kind of awful, but I don’t know if I can feel bad for Ali, She said that if she knew what was going to happen she wouldn’t have done it, but it seemed like she already knew how her family would react. Still I think it is awful that they reacted that way, but she can’t really claim she didn’t know what would happen.

  • Sebbe

    @Lawrence – Good point. I doubt it though.

  • htfaul

    @Sebbe: Did you watch the movie?? It clearly shows a woman transitioning to become a man. Just because they are not featured, doesn’t mean its not allowed. A logical reason for this could be that the surgeries for male to female and female to male transitions are vastly different and the surgeon profiled seemed to be a specialist on male to female transitions.
    All that said EY JAVEDAN IRAN! :-)

  • getreal

    Makes you wonder how many hopelessly feminine gay men or butch young women are forced to have their bodied changed to fit societal ideals. It is scary to think how a country that hates gays is decided who gets operated on.

  • Sebbe

    @htfaul – I couldn’t get the videos to play on my phone for some reason. I am going to play later when I am at home. Thanks for the heads up though and reminder.

  • Zoe Brain

    Rather than curing transsexuals, they’re creating them.
    Being TS is bad. Worse than you can imagine. But for gays in Iran, it’s either become TS or die.
    Many become TS and *then* die.

    I might add that in the US, it’s still the fashion in some places to surgically alter Intersexed children shortly after birth, so they conform to parental and societal expectations.

    They get the sex right 2 times out of 3. But that means they create a lot of TS people too.


    Praise God! The USA is a country that protects it’s people who are different. That’s why we will and alway’s will remain a powerful country.Christan country protected by those who cause harm to others only God has the right to JUDGE! GOD Bless AMERICA! GOD’S COUNTRY! Respect America it will protect you!!!!!!!!!!!

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