GSL Online

Gender & Sexuality Law Online is a webjournal published by the Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

The Biopolitics of Gender in Iran: How a “Third Gender” has Formed

Author: Donna Azoulay, JD 2010

Abstract: In the Islamic Republic of Iran both the role of gender and the commitment to gender have resulted in a blatant deployment of power over individual bodies. Gender as defined in this context is masculine/feminine, where the stakes for masculinity are particularly high. Iran’s commitment to gender can be seen in various scenarios: The veiling of women (among other things), the discourse surrounding transgender’s, and the treatment of homosexuals, in particular, the treatment of male homosexuals. In this paper I will not be addressing all three scenarios posed above, but, rather, will be focusing on the treatment of homosexuals, and will be illuminating that discussion with references to the discourse surrounding transgender’s. Further, I will attempt to show that in the Islamic Republic of Iran the commitment to gender, which can also be described as the commitment to masculinity, has affected homosexual men by pushing them out of the masculine/feminine binary and into a “third gender.” This has been accomplished by what Foucault has described, the “biopolitics of the populations,” where through, historical and philosophical discourse, the legal system and the literal control over bodies in the transgender context, the homosexual male has in effect been left outside the binary of masculine/feminine.

Full Article: The Biopolitics of Gender in Iran: How a “Third Gender” has Formed

Subjects: Gender Identity Discrimination, International Law, Sex Discrimination, Sexual Orientation Discrimination


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