The following is a translation of a story written by the State-run Fars News Agency, and published January 7, 2010 on BBC Persian’s Website. While the decision of the government not to classify transgender people as mentally disturbed is an important step forward, the language used by the government officials is both unfortunate and shows the challenges that the trans community faces in Iran.
The Director of Socially Vulnerable groups at the State Agency for National Well-Being says that the Iranian Military will no longer classify transgender people (who are eligible a for medical discharged from the compulsory military service) as “people with mental disorders.”
In his January 6th interview, Mr. Hasan Mousavi Chelk said: “So far, transgender people were exempt from the military based on their situation as “mentally disturbed.” But by including this classification in their discharge paper, they have faced numerous problems. Therefore it was decided to end the practice.”
The new policy comes after two years of consultation between the National Well-Being Agency and the Iranian Armed Services. The new regulations will allow transgender people to be classified either as “people with hormonal imbalance” or “diabetics.”
Mr. Chelk says most of the Iranian public is not informed about transgender people, whom he describes as “people with sexual identity disorder.” He says the Iranian government considers transgender people as its citizens and has a favorable view towards them.”
According to Mr Chelk, there are currently 4,000 self-identified transgender people in Iran.
(translation by Hossein Alizadeh)