Read my new short “Wheat to Bread” published by SfWP
The theocracy of modern-day Iran continuously attempts to oppress and regulate social identity, resulting in cross-sections of the pious, defiant, condemned, and invisible. The concept of sexuality navigates these boundaries in frightening and sometimes disastrous ways. Because of strict Muslim Law and punishment, sexual relationships exist either within the confines of heterosexual marriage or in secret underground networks constantly in fear of discovery. More dangerous than the hidden world of heterosexual dating is the life of an Iranian homosexual. Iran’s Theocracy does not tolerate homosexuality to any degree. The transsexual, however, can find a relatively safe, if not widely accepted, place in society. While homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, a transsexual is considered to have a health problem for which hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery is an acceptable medical treatment. The government subsidizes such surgeries and provides gender authentication paperwork to help assimilate individuals who have undergone treatment successfully. It is a booming business, and Iran is now second only to Thailand in the number of sex reassignment surgeries performed annually. This system arguably brings some relief for transsexual Iranians, but it creates a dangerous climate in which homosexual Iranians can be pressured into having surgery in order to position themselves in a societal structure that uniformly rejects and persecutes them. The outcome is often tragic.