Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Transsexuals in Iran

"Negar"- BBC.com

These days I tend to watch light-hearted TV shows if I have time for television. I like the real estate shows we have here like Selling Houses and the other home makeover ones. Occasionally I'll watch Gilmore Girls, but mainly the only thing I get to see on 'the box' is Teletubbies.

So tonight was a little different. I caught the second half of a documentary on SBS called Transsexuals in Iran and it was about just that. I'm disappointed I missed the first half but I was downstairs battling with my dryer. It has been on the fritz since Friday.

Anyway it was a moving programme. The low down is that it is against the law for a man to dress and behave as a woman in Iran, so the state has the answer. Have your penis surgically removed. You will be issued with a new birth certificate and you will have a new identity card saying that you are now a female. Your family will most likely disown you, if they haven't already and the only job you will be able to get is that of a "temporary wife". A sex worker.

It was a really distressing documentary with a really sad ending. So much for my light hearted TV viewing. It got me thinking again about that episode of Oprah to do with children who want their parents and their communities to accept them as the opposite sex. I was not a parent when I saw the show and I remember being horrified with the parents on the show for allowing a 4 year old to say "that's it mummy I want to be a girl from now on" and then raising their son a girl.

Now here I am, a mother and I am wondering what I would do. The answer? I honestly do not know. I think now I have a lot more compassion for the parents than I did then. Before I just thought it was a lack of discipline and direction but know I realise that was a very ignorant perspective.

The whole thing is just so sad and depressing. One of the people featured in the Iranian doco was Negar whose parents rejected him as a man with female tendencies and then he had the surgery and they completely disowned him as a man without a penis but legally a woman. Negar said her mother and father had killed their love for Negar and following the surgery Negar's body had love removed completely. She said she would never feel any sort of love again and would devote the rest of her life to making money as a prostitute (the accepted term is temporary wife).

Did anyone else watch this terribly sad and moving show? Have you seen that episode of Oprah about the children with 'gender identity disorder'? What are your thoughts?

Heavy topic really. I'm off to tour a prospective preschool tomorrow morning. I've seen so many now but I think this will be the one. I am getting pickier and pickier, if this isn't right then I have no idea where Tinker will go because I have almost seen them all!


  1. I actually saw both shows you are referring to. I am a mother also. What saddens me is that society still places more importance on outward appearances, whether it be vanity issues, clothing, hair, transgender, whatever. There has always been more precedence placed on that, when we should be more focused on what is on the inside. I've raised my children to never judge on outward appearances and to always have the freedom to just be themselves. Good luck on finding the right pre-school, you are right to be picky, especially in this day and age. Have a wonderful day! xo~

  2. I did see the Oprah episode about the children with "gender identity disorder." I have a son. And I have to say that if he felt down deep inside that he was meant to be a girl and wanted to live his life as a girl, then by all means, go ahead! I don't ever want to keep him from doing something that he feels is his only road to happiness (and I don't mean giving him cookies for dinner if he thinks that is his only road to happiness!). I want to always accept him for his truth, and not what I want his truth to be.

  3. I have not seen those particular shows, but have seen some similar. I was the same as you, wondering how a responsible parent could raise their son as a daughter. I now have a son of my own and now look at these topics more personally. While I think homosexuality is not a choice (in most cases) and transgender issues are probably a combination of genetic "malfunction" and psychological issues, I just don't think a four year old is experienced enough to understand all of these aspects. Most adults aren't experienced enough or mature enough to understand it. I think parents need to have open conversations with their children, no matter what age, if these topics are brought up. Again, I'm with you, I don't know what I would do if I was put in that situation. I would always love my son and would never abandon him (physically or emotionally)but I would see a lot of family therapy in the future. Whatever happened to life being simple?

  4. I have so much compassion for people in this situation because I don't know how I would cope with it. It is such a hard situation to face! Either the child is raised feeling no love for who they think they are (or who they are, which is the debate) or they are raised as the opposite sex and they face challenges in this as well. I have seen a mother raising her son as a girl because of this and actually grieving for her lost son. Because in a way, it felt like her son was gone- although he was really there, just a girl. I can only imagine the conflict it would create. What a crazy world we live in!

  5. I've always wondered what I would do if I was every given the same situation. Part of me wants to say it would be no problem, and I'd give my daughter exactly what she wanted, but I can't even imagine going through it. Granted I didn't see the show, I've seen a few other documentaries and they're so sad, esp. when the family isn't there for them.

    Good luck finding a preschool!

  6. Never saw the show, there is no SBS in Scotland unfortunately.
    It's a shame that society in general is so disapproving of the individual who stands against the norm. Whether that be sexually, politically, socially etc
    And that individuals are mainly afraid of being seen as 'different' and all want to be the same as their 'peers'. That is probably why there is nothing but the same clothes on sale in the superstores, but all in different sizes.

    Only when the individual acknowledges that they are completely responsible for their own happiness, irrespective of what form it may take, will society move forward, unjudgemental.

    and ps - never listen to gossip and never spread rumours :)

  7. Very heavy topic to take on. You're such an amazing writer. I love reading your posts. I pray that we are all able to accept others regardless of their differences.

  8. Wow, thank you so much for blogging on this. It really opened my eyes to an issue I had never heard about. Do you know if the show is available online? I'd like to watch it.

    Shawna's Study Abroad

  9. I watched it last night and it was heartwrenching.

    It is hard as a parent we only want the best for our children but that is often tmepered by our own persoanl beleief on what that entails.

    Even picking out preschools is tough work as we really do want to find the an environment in which they can be nurtured and thrive.

  10. I watched it. I thought it was totally wacky that the Iranian government outlaws homosexuality, but will pay half for a sex change! So much pain and suffering just because (to put it extremely crudely) one hole is acceptable and one isn't. The person is still the same - they've just been mutilated. They people all said they wouldn't have had the surgery if they didn't have to and I think that's really sad.

    If anyone felt that they were really a different gender then I think a sex change is a good idea, but in this case they were just doing it to pretend they were heterosexual.