Maryam Khatoon Molkara
Maryam Khatoonpour Molkara (Persian: مریم خاتون ملکآرا; 1950 - 25 March 2012) was a campaigner for the rights of transsexuals in Iran. Designated male at birth, she was later instrumental in obtaining a letter which acted as a Fatwā enabling sex change operations to exist as part of a legal framework.
As early as 1975, Molkara wrote letters to Ayatollah Khomeini, then in exile in Iraq, asking for religious advice about being assigned a wrong gender at birth and having to break out of it. In 1978, she traveled to Paris, where he was then based, to try to make him aware about transgender rights. After the Islamic Revolution, she was fired from her job at television, injected with male hormones against her will and detained in a psychiatric institution. Because of good contacts with religious leaders, among them Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, she was released.
Molkara continued to campaign for being able to get sex assignment surgery. She confronted Khomeini in his home in North Tehran: She wore a man's suit, carried the Quran and was held back and beaten by security guards, until Khomeini's brother Hassan Pasandide intervened. She was allowed to talk to Khomeini and successfully convinced him with her story to allow her to get a sex assignment surgery. Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1986 that allowed her to do that. Molkara lobbied for the according medical knowledge and procedures to be implemented in Iran and worked on getting other transsexuals to do the surgery. She herself completed her sex assignment surgery in Thailand in 1997, because she was dissatisfied with the quality of the surgery in Iranian hospitals.
In 2007, she founded and subsequently ran the Iranian Society to Support Individuals with Gender Identity Disorder (ISIGID, انجمن حمایت از بیماران مبتلا به اختلالات هویت جنسی ایران), the first legally registered advocacy group for transgender rights in Iran.
- McDowall, Angus; Stephen Khan (25 November 2004). "The Ayatollah and the transsexual". The Independent. Tehran. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
That Maryam Khatoon Molkara can live a normal life is due to a compassionate decision by one man: the leader of the Islamic revolution himself.
- Tait, Robert. "A fatwa for transsexuals". Salon.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
One woman's courage in appealing to the late Ayatollah Khomeini has made Tehran the unlikely sex change capital of the world.
- Fathi, Nazila (August 2, 2004). "As Repression Lifts, More Iranians Change Their Sex". The New York Times.
- Tait, Robert (July 27, 2005). "A Fatwa for Freedom". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "Human Rights Report: Being Transgender in Iran" (PDF). Outright. Action International. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
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