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The Legality of Sex Change Surgery and Construction of Transsexual Identity in Contemporary Iran

Saeidzadeh, Zara LU (2015) SIMV22 20142
Graduate School
Master of Science in Social Studies of Gender
Department of Sociology of Law
Abstract
The Islamic government in Iran has legalized transsexual surgeries and introduced a legal process which leads to medical intervention in transsexual cases. This has allowed thousands of Iranian men and women to undergo sex change every year. This paper explores the social and legal discourses on sex change and transsexuality in Iran in order to examine if the legalization of sex change surgery has legitimized transsexual identity within law and society. The discourse on "gender identity disorder" in connection with sex change started in Iran in the 1960s, but has gained prominence among doctors, legal scholars and jurists in recent decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
This study describes how Islamic jurisprudence operates in order... (More)
The Islamic government in Iran has legalized transsexual surgeries and introduced a legal process which leads to medical intervention in transsexual cases. This has allowed thousands of Iranian men and women to undergo sex change every year. This paper explores the social and legal discourses on sex change and transsexuality in Iran in order to examine if the legalization of sex change surgery has legitimized transsexual identity within law and society. The discourse on "gender identity disorder" in connection with sex change started in Iran in the 1960s, but has gained prominence among doctors, legal scholars and jurists in recent decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
This study describes how Islamic jurisprudence operates in order to generate legal rules through its internal and self-referential communication within the legal framework of Shari’a. Sex change surgery is allowed through juristic legal opinion in response to the existing social facts and norms, on the one hand, and structural cooperation with medical system, on the other. This has amounted to legally constructed “misrecognition” of transsexuals’ identity in society. Using semi-structured interviews, this essay explores how Iranian transsexuals understand and define their gender identity, while embracing modern interpretation of Islamic rules in relation to gender and sexuality. The results of the research show that although transsexuality, as an identity in its own right, is not legally recognized in Iran, sex change surgery is nevertheless permitted by fatwa. However, transsexuals’ narratives demonstrate strong agency of Iranian youth in reconstruction of gender identity through reconceptualization of Islamic laws.
Finally, the study throws light on the role of surgeons, who play a vital part in mediating the relationships of transsexuals with their families to jettison the heavy weight of stigma attached to the “trans status”. Moreover, transsexuals being aware of pathologization of their gender identities use this as a strategy to overcome social pressure. That is to say, the interviews show an increasing level of self-knowledge among young transsexuals, while giving cause to question the forceful heteronormalization by the government through surgery. (Less)
Popular Abstract
The Islamic government in Iran has legalized transsexual surgeries and introduced a legal process which leads to medical intervention in transsexual cases. This has allowed thousands of Iranian men and women to undergo sex change every year. This paper explores the social and legal discourses on sex change and transsexuality in Iran in order to examine if the legalization of sex change surgery has legitimized transsexual identity within law and society. The discourse on "gender identity disorder" in connection with sex change started in Iran in the 1960s, but has gained prominence among doctors, legal scholars and jurists in recent decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
This study describes how Islamic jurisprudence operates in order... (More)
The Islamic government in Iran has legalized transsexual surgeries and introduced a legal process which leads to medical intervention in transsexual cases. This has allowed thousands of Iranian men and women to undergo sex change every year. This paper explores the social and legal discourses on sex change and transsexuality in Iran in order to examine if the legalization of sex change surgery has legitimized transsexual identity within law and society. The discourse on "gender identity disorder" in connection with sex change started in Iran in the 1960s, but has gained prominence among doctors, legal scholars and jurists in recent decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
This study describes how Islamic jurisprudence operates in order to generate legal rules through its internal and self-referential communication within the legal framework of Shari’a. Sex change surgery is allowed through juristic legal opinion in response to the existing social facts and norms, on the one hand, and structural cooperation with medical system, on the other. This has amounted to legally constructed “misrecognition” of transsexuals’ identity in society. Using semi-structured interviews, this essay explores how Iranian transsexuals understand and define their gender identity, while embracing modern interpretation of Islamic rules in relation to gender and sexuality. The results of the research show that although transsexuality, as an identity in its own right, is not legally recognized in Iran, sex change surgery is nevertheless permitted by fatwa. However, transsexuals’ narratives demonstrate strong agency of Iranian youth in reconstruction of gender identity through reconceptualization of Islamic laws.
Finally, the study throws light on the role of surgeons, who play a vital part in mediating the relationships of transsexuals with their families to jettison the heavy weight of stigma attached to the “trans status”. Moreover, transsexuals being aware of pathologization of their gender identities use this as a strategy to overcome social pressure. That is to say, the interviews show an increasing level of self-knowledge among young transsexuals, while giving cause to question the forceful heteronormalization by the government through surgery. (Less)
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author
Saeidzadeh, Zara LU
supervisor
organization
course
SIMV22 20142
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Law, Jurisprudence, Islam, Shari'a, Misrecognition, Transsexuality, Iran, Homophobia, Medicine, Transsexual Identity.
language
English
id
5045547
date added to LUP
2015-02-09 08:43:34
date last changed
2016-11-21 15:36:49
@misc{5045547,
  abstract     = {The Islamic government in Iran has legalized transsexual surgeries and introduced a legal process which leads to medical intervention in transsexual cases. This has allowed thousands of Iranian men and women to undergo sex change every year. This paper explores the social and legal discourses on sex change and transsexuality in Iran in order to examine if the legalization of sex change surgery has legitimized transsexual identity within law and society. The discourse on "gender identity disorder" in connection with sex change started in Iran in the 1960s, but has gained prominence among doctors, legal scholars and jurists in recent decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
This study describes how Islamic jurisprudence operates in order to generate legal rules through its internal and self-referential communication within the legal framework of Shari’a. Sex change surgery is allowed through juristic legal opinion in response to the existing social facts and norms, on the one hand, and structural cooperation with medical system, on the other. This has amounted to legally constructed “misrecognition” of transsexuals’ identity in society. Using semi-structured interviews, this essay explores how Iranian transsexuals understand and define their gender identity, while embracing modern interpretation of Islamic rules in relation to gender and sexuality. The results of the research show that although transsexuality, as an identity in its own right, is not legally recognized in Iran, sex change surgery is nevertheless permitted by fatwa. However, transsexuals’ narratives demonstrate strong agency of Iranian youth in reconstruction of gender identity through reconceptualization of Islamic laws.
Finally, the study throws light on the role of surgeons, who play a vital part in mediating the relationships of transsexuals with their families to jettison the heavy weight of stigma attached to the “trans status”. Moreover, transsexuals being aware of pathologization of their gender identities use this as a strategy to overcome social pressure. That is to say, the interviews show an increasing level of self-knowledge among young transsexuals, while giving cause to question the forceful heteronormalization by the government through surgery.},
  author       = {Saeidzadeh, Zara},
  keyword      = {Law,Jurisprudence,Islam,Shari'a,Misrecognition,Transsexuality,Iran,Homophobia,Medicine,Transsexual Identity.},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Legality of Sex Change Surgery and Construction of Transsexual Identity in Contemporary Iran},
  year         = {2015},
}