Iran’s coercive advocacy of sex-change surgery for LGBT people has become a growing problem in recent years, says the Iranian lesbian and transgender network 6Rang, which has launched a campaign against the practice.
These timelines demonstrate the magnitude of the problem:
1973: Iranian press reports on the first case of sex reassignment surgery.
1976: Iran Medical Association declares sex-reassignment operations ethically unacceptable, except in intersex cases.
1985: Ayatollah Khomeini issues fatwa sanctioning sex-reassignment surgeries.
2005: Dr. Mir-Jalali, a Tehran-based general surgeon, states in an interview with the Guardian that he has performed 320 sex-reassignment operations between 1993 and 2005, around 250 of which involved male-to-female transitions. He said that, in a European country, he would have carried out fewer than 40 such procedures over the same period. “The reason for the discrepancy … is Iran’s strict ban on homosexuality,” he says.
2008: Iran reportedly performs more sex-reassignment surgeries than any other country except Thailand, leading some Western journalists to describe Iran as “a paradise for transsexuals.”
2014: In an interview with the Ghanoon Daily, Dr. Mehrad Baghaie, general surgeon specialized in plastic and reconstructive microsurgery, states that he has performed “over one hundred” male-to-female
2014: Dr. Soudabeh Oskouyee, a general surgeon in the field of sex reassignment surgeries, states that since 2001, she has performed between 30 and 40 surgeries every month.
Growing numbers of applications for sex-change permits
(Latest available figures)
- 2006 — 170 applications.
- 2007 — 297 applications.
- 2008 — 294 applications.
- 2009 — 286 applications.
- 2010 — 319 applications
Source: Legal Medicine Organization of Iran
Increasing proportion of requests for female-to-male sex-change permits
59.4% male-to-female applicants
40.6% female-to-male applicants
67.7 % male-to-female applicants
32.3% female-to-male applicants
59.5% male-to-female applicants
40.5% female-to-male applicants
46.5% male-to-female applicants
53.5% female-to-male applicants
49.5% male-to-female applicants
50.5% female-to-male applicants
6Rang states that the frequency of female-to-male operations is much higher in Iran than in Western European and North American countries, where the number of male-to-female transsexuals is 5 to 8 times higher than that of female-to-male candidates. Legal, social and cultural constraints experienced by women such as compulsory wearing of the hijab create a strong incentive for lesbians and female-to-male transgenders to opt for a sex change.
Official process for changing gender in Iran
In order to change their legal gender, transgender people in Iran are required to:
- Obtain a psychiatric diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder.”
- Receive an official sex reassignment permit, provided by the Prosecutor on the recommendation of the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran (LMOI).
- Undergo Hormone therapy, sterilization and genital reassignment surgeries
- Apply to Court and the National Organization for Civil Registration for name change and identification.
These data come from the report “Stop Reparative Therapies & Mandatory Sex Reassignment Surgeries: Homophobia, Transphobia and Health Care Abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” prepared by 6Rang and JFI with support from Hivos.