Accepted under the “Addressing Inequalities” Global Thematic Consultation – Call for Proposals for Background Papers, Oct 2012*
Abstract: This report raises concerns with Iran’s imposition of medical procedures on transgender persons as a requirement for the enjoyment of the right to legal recognition. The surgical requirement violates the dignity, bodily integrity and humanity of transgender persons. It also constitutes an egregious case of discrimination on the basis of gender identity given that for Iranian transgender persons, lacking legal recognition means being the denied the right to life, security of the person, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, privacy, family, work and education. The report further suggests that the requirement amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and possibly even torture, in light of the abuses that pervade and characterise the procedures and processes of psychological and medical testing and treatment of transgenders in Iran. Iran divides individuals who live outside dimorphic, hetero-normative gender relations into two distinct, yet interrelated, categories: transsexual patients and (homo)sexual perverts. The former encompasses individuals who suffer from a “gender identity disorder” (ekhtelal-i hoviat-i jensy) and must be “cured” through hormonal conversations and sex reassignment surgery while the latter includes morally bankrupt individuals who engage in sinful (homo)sexual behaviour outside the bounds of gender normalcy and must be prosecuted and have appropriate punishment meted out to them. It is concluded that Iran’s seemingly progressive stance on transsexuality and sex change should be understood and analysed through the lens of this troubling discourse which regards homosexuality and more generally any sexual or gender non-conformity as perverse, and unlawful, except for those willing to transform their “wrong bodies”.
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