Iran: How transgender people survive ultraconservative rule

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05/26/2021

Iran’s state subsidizes gender reassignment surgery while prohibiting homosexuality. A long and continuing history of activism has helped transgender people bolster their community despite the discrimination they face. Before getting gender-confirmation surgery, Saman Arastoo had pondered all of the consequences. At the age of 40, he had built an acting career in Iranian cinema and theater as a woman. He knew that his decision would hurt his career, but he had plans to replace it. Now he spends most of his time making sure that trans boys and girls do not rush into sex-change surgery — a rather easy option in Iran. Despite Iran’s rigid attitudes toward sexuality, its capital, Tehran, has been dubbed one of the world’s hubs for sex-reassignment surgery. Transgender individuals live and work with no legal barriers in the country. The government even helps with the costs of hormone medicine and gender reassignment surgery for those who want it.

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