Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran

This week’s reading has a strong focus on the relationship and distinction between the homosexual community and the transgender community in Iran and also within Islam. Afsaneh Najmabadi suggests that state regulation on gender reassignment and also “region-cultural codes and rituals concerning proper gender conduct” (29) have opened up new ways to explore the movement across gender norms in Iran. This development has also in part aided the gay community, considered illegal and punishable, as they have found ways to live their redefined identity in a transgender context. One point, I found particularly interesting in this piece was that in accordance with the Quran, homosexuality is illegal, while transgender is acceptable and considered a disharmony between soul and body. Najmabadi, points out that some of the stigma the transgender community is struggling with is, like most other people, they too desire lives with the prospect of marriage and family. In order to achieve this, the authenticity and integrity of transgender community must be impeccable. Najmabadi writes in her piece, “Family severance is a very serious social issues, as so much of one’s life is defined and made possible (or impossible) through one’s location within and intricate network of extended family members, family friends, and acquaintances” (31). If their family disowns an individual, hopefully they have the possibility to find a support group that can help rebuild a sense of community. These groups then become the new family and thus keep one another accountable. The film Be Like Others is a documentary that sheds light onto the experiences in the city Tehran, Iran. Written in 2008 by Tanaz Eshagian, an Iranian-American documentary filmmaker. The documentary explores issues around gender and sex and the short segment we will hopefully watch in class depicts some of the intragroup policing and counseling among the transgender individuals. The film focuses more strongly on the male to female gender crossing, which I think reflects the increased difficulty that MtFs experience in the strong Iranian patriarchy. Najmabadi also reflects that the loss of a daughter to a boy is much easier for the family to bear than the loss of a son to a daughter (31).  
Here is a link to the documentary on Documentary Haven:

The second resource I found aligns more with the general focus of our current section of law and citizenship. Located in the bay area, the Transgender Law Center is a resource focused especially on supporting transgender-identified individuals with any sort of legal issues. Their mission statement is: “Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.” They provide services for immigration and identification, as well as a whole variety of other areas such as health care, housing, employment, etc. Check out their website at I think this is a wonderful resource because it is very easy to access and navigate. Finding legal counsel and education about ones rights is essential in delicate processes especially when they include so-called “non-normative identities”. From my personal experience, I can share the overwhelmingly helpless feeling that comes along with being identified as residential “alien”. Especially at the intersection of transitioning from one country to another as well as from one gender to another, having legal counsel is of tremendous value.




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