Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls

Najmabadi’s Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran provides a foundation for thinking about how dominant narratives play a role in determining what is shamed, tolerated, and accepted in Iran for the trans community. Furthermore, Najmabadi emphasizes the importance of looking at these definitions of sex and gender–as well as the cultural absence of distinction between the two–through a transnational lens. In doing so, transnational cross-cultural analysis is important to understand how borders and definitions of identities are different and fluid depending on intersectional relationships of nationality, race, religion, sex, gender, and sexuality.

1. In thinking about how religion and traditional values impact a culture, what role does marriage play in crossing borders of sex and gender for the “certified” transsexual in Iran? Similarly, how does the struggle of “transsexuals still [existing] under the threat of inauthenticity” (36) come into play when thinking about social pressures on trans and gay identities in this context?

2. How can we use this idea of transing narratives to reconceptualize how “religio-legal-psycho-medical” (27) heteronormative binaries impact society on a private-public scale in Iran?

3. In comparison to the other readings we have analyzed about migration, how does Iran’s navigation of gender regulations–“‘transgender symptoms’ and adolescent ‘sexual symptoms’ signals the many ways in which gender and sex are not taken to be distinct categories in all registers in Iran” (30)–provide flexibility for movement between trans identities? Furthermore, how are these loopholes in this sex-gender walls beneficial and/or harmful?

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One thought on “Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls

  1. Najmabadi’s article seemed really unique to me for providing the information of Iran officially legalizing one’s gender and identity by undergoing sex change surgery, also clearly mentioning the difficulties in the relationship between transgender communities and homosexual communities aside from analyzing existing social and cultural politics which determines how people with different gender identity from that was assigned at birth are supposed to live in order to blend into the society.

    Social institutions have this power to tell people in its society that one’s gender, behavior, desire who to be with, and identity should match with each other. Mismatching of each element is against the nature and regarded as the factor disharmony. And in their nature, transsexual people are legible and accepted, while homosexual people are considered as shameful and illegal. As is written in the article, this “increasing frequency of sex change petitions and operations” has applied pressure to homosexual communities that as long as they get attracted to people with the same sex, one has to change his or her sex. So that their marriage can be formed in a legal way. These differences of attitude have deepened the split between these two communities. However, an alliance has recently been established among some transsexual people and gay men, saying that since they have much in common, facing struggles that aren’t understood from majorities of people, they should no longer be a hostile division.

    Also, this might be a bit stereotypical though but in Islam culture, the power balance between men and women are obviously unequal. Men have more power than women and there is a great deal of social requirement toward women. In page 30, it says that the life of FtMs is easier than that of MtFs because of the preference of male offspring. MtFs also have to face more of the potential danger of being attacked or sometimes being murdered. I wonder if it’s the influence of the predominance of men over women remains in the transsexual society, which couldn’t be removed from their original society.

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