New campaign seeks to end forced gender reassignment of LGBT Iranians

A campaign launched this week by the Iranian Lesbian and transgender network 6rang is seeking to change the way Iranian authorities treat the country’s LGBT population.

The campaign is aiming to force authorities into recognizing the human rights of LGBT people while also ending the practice of coercive and sometimes forced gender reassignment that is given to some LGBT people.

The practice of government-forced gender reassignment has been practiced in Iran for around 30 years now and has seen hundreds of LGBT people coerced into surgery and hormone replacement therapy or else face harsh punishments dealt out to homosexuals. Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and can sometimes carry the death penalty.

Some LGBT people detained by authorities are given the option to take gender reassignment treatment to reduce or clear their sentence. Because in some cases refusing would lead to execution, many people have chosen instead to take the surgery despite their sexuality or gender-identity.

The practice or coerced gender reassignment first started in Iran in the 1980s under Ayatollah Khomeini. Since then it is believed that thousands of Iranians have undergone gender reassignment, either through authority coercion or by a doc tor diagnosing them with ‘Gender Identity Disorder’.

In 2008 it was believed that Iran became the country with the world’s second most gender reassignment surgeries, just behind Thailand. Although at the time some saw the figures as a progressive step forward it quickly became obvious that the inflated figures were fuelled partly by Iran’s no-tolerance stance on homosexuality.

As part of their campaign 6rang published a report entitled ‘Pathologizing identities, paralyzing bodies’ in which it looked further into some of the stats and figures behind Iran’s gender reassignment policies.

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