Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Sex change, Civil liberties pledge, etc.

Before you read on: I just saw this survey about the Iranian diaspora in Canada. In case it applies to you...
Also, ACLU is asking people to take a pledge on Bush's inauguration day. The pledge is called "Refuse to surrender your freedom" and is in response to the Patriot Act, the attack on abortion rights, gay and lesbian rights, etc.
Now the sex change post:
A couple of days ago, I wrote a short piece in my Persian blog about sex-change surgeries in Iran and critiqued the reification of sexed and gendered binaries through the use of tropes such as "being trapped in the wrong body." I pointed to the history of this trope in the U.S. and questioned the "truth of sex" that it sought to establish. I was pleased to see that in today's Iranian.com, Afsaneh Najmabadi has eloquently written on this subject and has addressed the issue, using her expertise on the history of sexuality in modern Iran. Three years ago, I wrote a review of Farkhondeh Aghayee's book, jensiyat-e gomshodeh ("lost gender"), a psycho-social account of sex-change surgeries, in which the author perpetuates the view that transsexuals suffer from psych-sexual disorders. Since that time, the proliferation of the discourse on sex-change has enabled more and more surgeries to take place, which is a positive change for many Iranian transsexuals. This discourse, however, continues to construct non-heterosexual desires as "disease" and "abnormal." Sex change is legitimitized only as a way to fix "abnormal" desires. As such many forms of sexuality that remain outside of this naturalized heterosexuality continue to be marked as abnormal, deviant, and "sick." I think currently in Iran, medical, psychological, and religious discourses are coming together to produce and discipline the category of "do-jensi." While the discourse has proven to be productive in that it has given legitimacy to many transgenders in Iran, it also reconsolidates heterosexuality as the only legitimate form of sexuality. In any case, read Afsaneh's article and if you have any thoughts, let's discuss them here.


The sidebar image is taken from Mahmoud Pakzad's "Old Tehran", Did Publishers, 1994. Thanks to Jahanshah Javid (www.iranian.com) for sharing it.

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