Gender troubles – transsexuality in Iran

March 10, 2008

Over the last few years there’s been some intermittent mainstream interest in transsexuality both in the West and in the Middle East. Although the topic was somewhat taboo in the West until relatively recently, it has been discussed quite openly in Iran for the last 25 years. The relative openess surrounding this topic in the Islamic Republic has aroused the curiosity of the Western media, and reports on transsexuality in Iran such as this article often try to come to terms with the fact gender reassignment surgery is religiously sanctioned (even encouraged) in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Is the 25 year old fatwa allowing ‘diagnosed’ transsexuals to undergo surgery a sophisticated and modern approach to a serious issue that is often not dealt with satisfactorily in even in the West, or is it simply the outcome of an inability to accept homosexuality? Read the rest of this entry »

Sydney Arab Film Festival

March 6, 2008

For those in Sydney (or planning on visiting in the near future), a brief post alerting you all to a great film festival for those interested in Arab politics and culture. Now in its fourth year, the 2008 Sydney Arab Film Festival will be running from 10-13 April at Riverside, Parramatta. The festival provides insight into Arab culture and politics through a series of feature films, shorts and documentaries that show an alternative to the (mis)representations we often encounter in mainstream media. Most importantly, they provide an opportunity for the Arab world to engage in self-representation. Significantly, there are also a number of films this year that deal with gender in the Arab world, ranging from political documentaries (Women in Struggle) to more subtle fictional stories that explore women’s daily lives (Caramel). More information on films, screenings and organisers at: