The number of gender reassignment surgeries performed in Iran annually is second only to the number of surgeries performed in Thailand. Even though the Islamic republic legalised transsexuality in 1987, human rights activists claim that the surgeries performed have a sinister motive. Homosexuality is illegal in the country and the maximum punishment for it is death. The Iranian government's opinion on homosexuality is that it is an illness which needs to be cured. The "cure" being adapted is forced gender reassignment surgery.
Apart from being persecuted for being homosexual, consenting same-sex couples are often also charged with sodomy and rape in Iran. To avoid prosecution by the state, many homosexual people are opting to go for gender reassignment surgeries.
The regime believes that gay men have the soul of a woman in their bodies. Changing the body is the solution offered by the government to their perceived problem. Even the Head of the Human Rights Commission in Iran shares the belief that gay people are sick and in need of physical treatment.
According to government data, around 4,000 gender reassignment surgeries are performed each year. However, Iranian LGBT rights activist, Shadi Amin, claims that the numbers are much higher. Speaking to The Sun, Amin said that a doctor had informed her that they perform 30 to 40 surgeries per month. Sometimes, doctors even perform three gender reassignment surgeries per day.
Not only are the individuals forced to undergo the surgery, they are sometimes treated by cosmetic surgeons instead of specialists.
The plight of homosexual people does not end after the surgery. After forcibly getting individuals operated on, the government turns a blind eye to them. Amin pointed out that most transgender people lost support from their families. Without the prospect of employment, transgender people turn to prostitution.
The state offers very little protection to transgender people and they are often subject to discrimination and physical violence.
British human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, condemned the efforts of the Iranian government to "eradicate homosexuality" from the country as if it was a disease. Iran's subsidy on gender reassignment surgeries is not to support trans people, but to purge the nation of homosexual people.