ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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State-building, Science and Religion

Sexuality in Iran

What can a study of transsexuality in Iran contribute to its broader global understanding? Some disaffiliation, if not actual animosity, is often assumed between science and religion, sometimes placed in relation to larger concepts such as “modernity” and “tradition.” But, developments in Iran over the past three decades reveal the coming together of science and religion; these have generated possibilities for living alternatively gendered and sexual lives. The implications of some of these developments are explored.

Today, the dominant narrative in Iran on transsexuality consists of two—at times parallel, at times competing—storylines: one is the familiar psycho-sexological story of transsexuality as a gender identity disorder, dominant among the medical science professionals (including surgeons and psychologists); the other is the narrative of discordance between the gender of the soul and that of the body. The latter is more in circulation among transsexuals, social workers, and a vocal group of Islamic scholars, based in seminary circles of Qum, in conversation with scientists and transsexuals. Social workers, for instance, often depend critically on this narrative to produce parental support for their transsexual offspring, which is especially important for observant Muslim families. How has this come about? What possibilities have been generated, and within what boundaries, by the interaction of scientific reasoning, theological explanations, and the legal clarity demanded by the state?

Early Phase of the ‘Gender Culture War’

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Updated On : 3rd Nov, 2017

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