Iran isn’t the first place that comes to mind when considering gay & lesbian rights, but strangely enough, it is very accepting of transgender people – so much so that it has been reported that eight members of its national football squad are male to female trans women.
While most western countries now agree that trans men and women should be allowed to participate in social sports as their chosen gender, the reports have raised questions about whether the Iranian team who recently won a tournament in Asia have an unfair advantage.
“[Eight players] have been playing with Iran’s female team without completing sex change operations,” Mojtabi Sharifi, an official close to the Iranian league, said during an interview with the Iranian website Young Journalists Club…
He added that Iran’s football governing body was entirely responsible for the scandal which he described as “unethical.”
Iran performs the second highest number of gender reassignment surgeries in the world (behind Thailand) with the government picking up the bill.
It has, however, been reported that many gay Iranians are forced into having the state-sponsored surgeries to avoid being illegal and facing the harsh penalties that includes imprisonment, up to 75 lashes, or execution.
The Iranian women’s football team was also in the news last month when the team’s captain Niloufar Ardalan was unable to compete in a match in Malaysia because her husband refused her permission to fly.