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Islam and Transgenderism


Guest SebastienLlawliet

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Guest otter-girl

Hi,

I feel it important to state at the start am not Muslim. However you might find this article interesting...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexuality_in_Iran

...although Iran is predominatley Shia. My understanding from this and related articles is that Islam accepts complete gender change but has issues with intermediate states.

In my opinion, discrimination is based on the majority cultural and social influence and even an edict from a high ranking cleric will do little to protect people from every day life discrimination, although it is a good start.

Best wishes

Rachel

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Guest (Lightsider)

Hi,

I feel it important to state at the start am not Muslim. However you might find this article interesting...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexuality_in_Iran

...although Iran is predominatley Shia. My understanding from this and related articles is that Islam accepts complete gender change but has issues with intermediate states.

In my opinion, discrimination is based on the majority cultural and social influence and even an edict from a high ranking cleric will do little to protect people from every day life discrimination, although it is a good start.

Best wishes

Rachel

Iran may look like they accept it, but there are some things about it that are alarming.

1. If you are gay you are pressured into getting gender reasignment surgery. That is why they have so many surgeries. It is either that or be killed.

2. If you are MtF you are in luck in that country because if you are FtM that is not allowed. You see you can exit the boys club but if you were born female you will not be allowed to join the boys club. It is a one way street.

It is interesting that wiki article is not clear on that.

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Guest SebastienLlawliet
although Iran is predominatley Shia. My understanding from this and related articles is that Islam accepts complete gender change but has issues with intermediate states.

Yeah, I get that message too. It seems no one majority decision has been made.

1. If you are gay you are pressured into getting gender reasignment surgery. That is why they have so many surgeries. It is either that or be killed.

2. If you are MtF you are in luck in that country because if you are FtM that is not allowed. You see you can exit the boys club but if you were born female you will not be allowed to join the boys club. It is a one way street.

That's horrible. =/ But I have seen a(n) FTM in Iran, idk maybe it's a very rare procedure, what exactly would happen to a lesbian, for example?

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Guest (Lightsider)
although Iran is predominatley Shia. My understanding from this and related articles is that Islam accepts complete gender change but has issues with intermediate states.

Yeah, I get that message too. It seems no one majority decision has been made.

1. If you are gay you are pressured into getting gender reasignment surgery. That is why they have so many surgeries. It is either that or be killed.

2. If you are MtF you are in luck in that country because if you are FtM that is not allowed. You see you can exit the boys club but if you were born female you will not be allowed to join the boys club. It is a one way street.

That's horrible. =/ But I have seen a(n) FTM in Iran, idk maybe it's a very rare procedure, what exactly would happen to a lesbian, for example?

I am not saying a ftm can not get surgery in Iran however the boys club will never accept a ftm... That is what is not allowed, I should have been clearer. Socially it is a one way trip. I have read where Lesbians are put to death at times.

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Guest SebastienLlawliet
Well I couldn't say what are the views of Islam regarding Transgenderism. I am not a Muslim so I cannot speak for Muslims.

I understand completely.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Delphinus

First of, Iran is dominantly Shia except for small pockets of Catholicism and Sunni, and lingering Zoroastrianism in the Southwest. Shia and Sunni are different in the restrictions they place on individuals. Furthermore, while the government of Iran is controlled by Shia extremists (explore 'Islamic Revolution' of the 1980s), a large portion of Persians are very secular. What you must understand is that Persians are very proud people (and having such a rich cultural history, it's easy to see why), and also very vain about education (in fact, this is true in many Arab countries as well). I would therefore expect an only marginally smaller portion of Persians (if not under threat of their government) than Americans to be open-minded regarding trans issues.

Regarding Islam and Muslims as a whole, it's not cut-and-dry at all. My best friends are Sunni, my best friend in Junior College was Shia, and I was an adjunct member of the Muslim Student Association at the same time that I ran the campus' LGBTQ organization. I have always been treated very appropriately by the Islamic communities I've floated in and out of; that said, there is a lot of gender rigidity in Islam, particularly for the older folks. For example, I've been to the market with my mother and sister (keep in mind that I don't "pass" typically) and had older, male clerks refuse to speak to either of them and would only address me. This happened even when I was 13, which really infuriated my mother and older sister. Now, there were likely two reasons for that: 1) my mother and sister look very, very anglo and I look Mediterranean/ easily pass for at least half Arab, Persian or Pakistani, and 2) I was the masculine figure present. It didn't matter to those old guys that I was female-bodied, what mattered was that I was "my father's son" (they assumed my father was Arab, Persian, or Pakistani) and therefore "in charge" in his absence. Sexist? Unbelievably so! Ethnocentric? Yep! But I was treated well (unless I said/ did something they found "wrong" for a Muslim boy, and then I was quickly corrected). Muslim fathers would often invite me to Q'uran readings when I was a child, often citing that there would be wonderful food and that their sons and I could play all sorts of games. Muslim mothers would pet on my hair, critique my clothes ('too baggy,' 'not the right color'), go BALLISTIC on people if they treated me badly (especially true of Pakistani moms because of the social structure - basically, if there's a kid involved, it doesn't matter if they're not yours, you have to protect them), and also SCREAM at me if I seemed to be goofing off. *My childhood/ teenager years are complicated... Throughout all of this, though, I got the sense that more than anything, these moms and dads of cisgender kids felt sorry for me; it was that 'poor kid was born in the wrong body AND into an Islamophobic society, how hard that must be!' Never once did I feel like they thought I was sinful. Admittedly, being felt sorry for isn't ideal but if it aids in acceptance, then why not? That said, my case my be rare because I grew up in a conservative, white, Christian environment and after September 11, 2001, there was a major push in the local Islamic community to "protect their own." Even the MSA kids in Junior College were accepting (especially their fiery little Egyptian president); actually, it was the members of my own organization that had a problem with my dual-affiliations (because they were Christian!).

I share all of this because despite my dominantly good experiences with Islam, I know that I cannot go to Iran or to Pakistan or Saudi, not right now. It isn't the people that are bad, it's the climate. If the governments weren't so powerful, most likely, I would be as welcomed as I have been in the US. BUT I'm not sure how long this would hold up if I strayed from "correct behaviour" or openly discussed things - think stealth but where everybody actually knows and is pretending that they don't. I also do not know how true this would be for MtFs who did not pass well or for people who appeared completely "foreign." Likely, anyone who was completely foreign in appearance would not be subject to the same social restrictions because it effectively doesn't matter if they're "proper" because they're "other" so, they may do as they like. One of the biggest misconceptions about mainstream Islam is that it demands judgement of other religious and ethnic groups. In fact, the Q'uran sets forth that non-Muslims are not subject to Islamic law but may live peacefully beside Muslims so long as they don't disrespect their sacred places or practices.

Back to Iran... Lesbians, if discovered, have a choice to "redeem" themselves (after beating) by renouncing their sexuality, claiming they were guided by some form of evil, and have been "brought to the light" by their "saviors" (i.e., the people who beat them). If they do this, then no further action is technically required; if a discovered lesbian is married and goes through all of this, her husband will be under great social pressure to resume their marriage as if nothing had happened, though technically has the right to divorce her. Regarding FtMs, I'd imagine that SRS would be the preferred course of action by the government; it would also elevate the person's status (from female to male) and therefore (in fanatical theory) eliminate any further "deviant" or "anti-governmental/ ant-Islamic" behavior. It would depend on the situation, though, for any case. If the family was influential or otherwise considered a model of either Shia morality, Persian intellectualism, etc., SRS would be the most likely result. If the family was poor, out of favor with the government, or otherwise deemed "un-important," beating, etc. would be more likely. I should not that my best friend in Junior College was from Iran and she was 100% supportive of me.

I get really irritated, actually, with people who generalize all Muslims as homophobic or transphobic; it's common in Islam but it's common in Catholicism, Mormonism, (Israeli) Judaism, Baptist, Methodist.... shall I continue?? It's true that the Q'uran states that for "a woman to act like a man is taboo," and that a "man should not be with a man nor a woman with a woman as men and women are together" BUT, it also says the same thing in the Bible, the Torah, and a host of other religious texts; even the Dalai Lama (who is supposedly Mister Peace and Acceptance) says that homosexuality is the result of bad karma and "not a good way to be because male and female sexual organs are compatible and capable of procreation while male/ male and female/ female couples are not."

It's problematic, and I don't think any religion has quite sorted out their official feelings on these issues but one simply cannot right of an entire religion, much less and entire sub-continent!, based upon the feelings of some. To do so would be immoral, in my opinion.

Oh yeah, and I'm not actually Muslim in case that wasn't clear but my beliefs have been heavily ifluenced by Islam, Catholicism, Kabbalism, Nature-worship, and Humanism. :-)

- Del

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Guest Claire-G

With a bit of searching I found this, alltogerher not much different to the rest of the world I think

There are over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It is a belief that people are very much different is experienced. There are also different movements: there are Shia, Sunni, Sufi Muslims and Alevis.

Within these movements there are different views on transgender are. One Muslim thinks it's good if someone have surgery to undergo gender change. While other Muslim it is not okay. Per flow, community and each person are different opinions about transgender.

There is not a vision from all transgender Muslims, but there are different views.

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Guest Delphinus

There is not a vision from all transgender Muslims, but there are different views.

Correct. If any generalization can be made, I would say that it's the level of discretion expected (but this is true for heterosexual, cisgendered Muslims as well). For example, one of my friends told me that they're OK with my identity but did not say the words 'gay,' 'queer,' 'trans,' etc. because it would be considered improper for them to make such a personal comment; it would be the social equivalent of an American commenting on their friend's sexual anatomy in conversation (NOT OK). Again, that's really the only generalization that I would say is safe to make regarding Islam and gender/ sexuality issues.

- Del

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  • 9 years later...
8 minutes ago, Telestria said:

Attitudes about transgender people vary widely among Muslims, even within the same tradition, especially in America. I've known many as coworkers and friends. Now and then I've visited a local masjid. Some appeared leery of me as an outsider or as a trans woman, especially in the wake of the 9-11 attacks when Muslims were being targeted out of sheer reactionary fear. The senior imam was outraged to see me, decided I was a degenerate homosexual, and proceeded to preach a strong anti-gay Koranic sermon. A representative of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) later apologized to me for that imam's behavior. But the associate imam was truly humble and tremendously helpful to me when I needed help determining where my novel was going with respect to the death of a friend, for one of my major characters was an Egyptian Muslim woman whom I pictured as lovable, funny, and blessed in every little bit of clumsiness so that she intrigued everyone. Others I've been able to sit down and talk on a Sufi level or to find Hadith.

Did you just say your novel? 🧐😲

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2 hours ago, Telestria said:

Yes. I wrote a novel years ago, a comic tragedy in which one of the major characters was a lovable Muslim named Fatimah. I wanted a cast of colorfully diverse characters. The book is out of print today.

Very cool! I don’t suppose I could have the name of this book? 

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