On the Science of Changing Sex

No. Iran Does NOT “Force” Gay Men & Lesbians To Be Transsexuals

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 28, 2022

For several decades now, I’ve seen the same claim made, usually from transphobic elements in the Gay & Lesbian communities, but increasingly in right wing heterosexual circles, that gay men and women, especially gay men, are “forced” to have sex reassignment surgery in Iran. They rarely have any actual data to back up their claims, only nebulous references to anecdotes that they heard from somewhere else. Occasionally this story shows up on a newspaper or magazine, usually of the tabloid / yellow “journalism” type.

It’s long past time to carefully examine these stories, where they come from, why they persist, and what the real facts are.

First, one must know that the idea of gays and lesbians being “forced”, or in modern transphobic parlance, “transed” is many decades old. The story is usually told that a “gender non-conforming” (read: gender atypical) gay boy or tomboyish girl / lesbian, is pushed to be transsexual by their homophobic parents. This is itself a strange notion, that homophobic parents wouldn’t be just as transphobic. It also stretches credulity in that it pre-supposes that transsexuals will successfully avoid public scrutiny when they transition such that homophobic parents can, as though by magic, suddenly introduce their “straight” daughter or son that their other relatives, neighbors, and co-workers, had never heard of before… and my oh my… don’t they remind everyone about their obviously gay / lesbian child that they had met before?

This also goes against the actual experience of both homosexuals and transsexuals, in that such ‘phobic parents would MUCH rather have a CLOSETED homosexual child than an out transsexual child. Many transsexuals with such ‘phobic parents have experienced entreaties from parents that “couldn’t they just be closeted homosexual instead?”

So why does the idea that transsexuals are pushed into being transsexuals occur at all? Because it is the corollary of that other false narrative popular within the transphobic elements of the gay and lesbian community that transsexuals are homophobic themselves and having internalized this homophobia, seek to live as heterosexuals by changing their sex. Never mind that such Homosexual Transsexuals (HSTS) were nearly all extremely gender dysphoric as young children and had long desired, indeed, made up their minds, that they would grow up to be the opposite sex, long before coming to understand what their sexual orientation might be. Only as they matured, did they realize it would take medical interventions for this to occur. They (we) do not hold homophobic views, internalized or not.

Back to the Iran myth. What is true is that Iran, like many other nations, both Islamic and Christian, have a history of social and legal persecution of homosexual people. Slowly very slowly, some Christian nations changed their laws in fits and starts, sometimes becoming better for gays and lesbians, sometimes becoming better for transsexuals. Did you know that transsexuals are still being legally harassed by police in the United States? We call it “trans while walking”. Look it up. Today, half of the US States are working to pass bills that specifically target transsexuals, our families, and access to medical services. There are similar issues occurring in other Western, mostly Christian, nations. But in Iran, an odd thing occurred after the Islamic Revolution. While homosexuality, or rather it’s direct practice, remained criminalized as it had been earlier, in 1987, a transsexual, a pre-op transwoman who had been able to obtain HRT, reached their top cleric and reminded him that in the Hadith (stories of the Prophet Mohammed’s life and sayings that were not included in the Quran) included details of Mohammed’s friendships and acceptance of what would clearly be recognized today as “homosexual transsexuals”. She begged him to explore this history. The result was a fatwa that specifically sanctioned the existence and medical treatment of transsexuals in Islam.

So, jump back to the West and know that some transphobic elements in the gay and lesbian communities saw this as being unfair. Why should non-gender-dysphoric gays and lesbians continue to be legally and socially discriminated against (and indeed, why should they?) in Iran while transsexuals have a free pass, a “get out of jail free card”? This anger, combined with the earlier angry myths of parents forcing their homosexual children to be transsexuals and the myth that transsexuals are just self-hating homosexuals transitioning to escape homophobic (and in the case of transmen, sexist) discrimination, naturally lead to the false narrative that Iran is “forcing” gays and lesbians to have sex reassignment surgery. They don’t actually need evidence, certainly not of the kind that involves data, to prove it’s happening. Just the horror at the thought of being forced to “change sex” vs. being jailed for being gay is enough to let others who hear the myth believe it unskeptically.

But, we do require such evidence! Because the data, the numbers, just didn’t fit that narrative.

But let us say for the moment that it’s true, that Iran is rounding up homosexuals and forcing them to have sex changes. What would the data look like? What it should look like is that there would be far more people having sex reassignment surgeries in Iran, per capita, especially per homosexual population, than in the West. But is this true?

Consider that it is now well known that homosexuality is universal, occurring in all societies, throughout history, and at about the same rates. It’s public expression may vary, due to repressive legal and social circumstances, but the actual sexual orientation and desire remain constant at about three percent (give or take depending upon definitions, etc.).

Now compare that the number of actual transsexuals in the United States at around ~6/100,000 people. So, 3% G&L = 3,000/100,000 against 6. Thus, in the United State, one of the most transsexual and homosexual friendly nations in the world (not the best, but near the top) the ratio of homosexuals to transsexuals seeking social and medical transition is 500 to 1.

Back to Iran. How many transsexuals are seeking medical transition? It is only 1.46/100,000. So, in Iran that ratio of homosexuals to transsexuals is a whopping 2055 to 1.

Let’s turn our attention to the data on who is getting medical transition services. Here we see something interesting in that multiple separate papers both show that the average age for SRS for both natal sexes is around 25 years old. Further, the data for MTF transsexuals shows that 90% report being “early onset”. This is what we would expect given Iran’s culture and the correlation between a given culture’s level of individualism vs. the number of “late onset” transwomen transitioning. The numbers add up with what we would expect for those receiving transition services to be naturally occurring gender dysphoric people, freely choosing it.

The numbers do NOT support the allegation that gays and lesbians are being “forced” to undergo an unwanted “sex change”, the data would in fact, suggest the opposite, that transsexuals in Iran are exactly the people we expect to find. Neither the government, “society”, nor transsexuals’ families are “forcing” transsexuality upon unwilling gays and lesbians.

Instead of spreading the myth of unwanted, forced, “sex changes”, the LGBT community should be decrying the recent vicious propaganda against transsexual people in Iran (and elsewhere).

Further Reading:

Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transsexual Kids

Stolen History: False Narratives of Transsexuals Transitioning Because of Homophobia & Sexism

Data On Transsexual SubTypes In Iran

References:

Talaei, et al, “The Epidemiology of Gender Dysphoria In Iran: The First Nation Wide Study”, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2022), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02250-y

Ahmadzad-asl, et al., “The Epidemiology of Transsexualism In Iran”, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health (2010), https://doi.org/10.1080/19359705.2011.530580

Sadr, M., Khorashad, B.S., Talaei, A. et al. “2D:4D Suggests a Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Gender Dysphoria” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01630-0

Tagged with:

Comments Off on No. Iran Does NOT “Force” Gay Men & Lesbians To Be Transsexuals

%d bloggers like this: