How Iran’s anti-LGBT policies put transgender people at risk


Despite repressive laws against homosexuality, gender reassignment surgery remains legal in Iran. But Iranians who seek sex-change operations are faced with a harsh approval process and a high risk of botched surgeries. When Arya came out as transgender, his family immediately rejected the idea. “They did not accept that I was trans,” says Arya, who wishes to remain anonymous. “They told me, ‘Because you were born as a girl, you need to live as a girl.'” Arya, 38, who identifies as a gender non-binary person, came out to his family in Tehran, Iran’s capital, when he was 25, and spent two years seeking approval for a sex change operation. Despite repressive anti-LGBT laws, gender reassignment surgery remains legal in Iran. However, the path to getting legal approval to transition is fraught with humiliating procedures, including virginity tests, court trials, extensive questioning and mandatory counseling.

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