Thanks to Jane for forwarding this piece.
Iranian Truth: Sex Change in Iran
It's a response to a New York Times story reporting the increasing acceptance of gender reassignment surgery (commonly known as "the sex-change operation") in Iran. I don't have much to add to the post's main points, which are (1) increasing acceptance of transsexual/transgender people anywhere is a good thing, but (2) we cannot necessarily infer (as NYT writer Nazila Fathi apparently does) that a more tolerant policy toward transsexuals means a more tolerant Iranian regime. In fact, this is not the case.
There's a widespread assumption in the West that transsexuals are simply an "extreme" form of homosexuals. This isn't true, and clearly the IRI, for all its prejudices, is operating from a different set of assumtions. In their minds, transsexuals can be "OK" because, and only because, they are not considered homosexuals.
Because of the way civil rights evolved in the West, transgender people are seen as more "out there" than conventionally gendered gays, and, by extension, the transgender rights movement is still seen as a footnote to the gay rights movement - the "T" that comes, almost as an afterthought, at the end of "GLBT".
In revolutionary Iran, there was no Stonewall, no Sylvia Rivera, no gay rights movement. There are no gay rights, period. Transsexuals successfully transitioning male-to-female will be recognized as women, with all the rights enjoyed by women - i.e., none. Please see my earlier post on a gender transition in Kuwait.
Social conservatives in the West should resist the temptation to see this development as a sign of increasing "liberalism" (whether good or bad) in Iran. Rather, they should reconsider the widely-held assumption that transsexuals seek gender reassignment on a whim, or as a fad, or as some kind of misguided political statement.
Social conservatives should ask themselves: Why, under a ruthlessly misogynistic regime, would anyone want to be a woman?