Transgender Acceptance Worldwide

In different cultures and countries around the world the transgender population faces varying degrees of acceptance and discrimination. In December of 2016 the polling firm Ipsos, Buzzfeed News and the Williams Institute at UCLA’s law school conducted a survey to rank countries on how accepting the public is towards transgender people and how supportive they are of their rights.

Countries were placed in rank according to a point system from 1 to 100. Spain topped that list with a score of 81. Russia ranked last with a score of 44.

In a small number of countries changing your legal name and gender is accomplished simply by filling out a form. Meanwhile, in Russia, a country that has been notoriously anti-LGBT, a member of Russian parliament proposed in 2017 that transgender foreigners be banned from entering the country if their passports don’t correspond with their gender assigned at birth.

In countries like Spain lawmakers having been passing anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT citizens, while Russia’s legal treatment of the LGBT population has been called one of the worst human rights violations in the post-Soviet era.

In Iran, a country not included in the Buzzfeed News/Ipsos survey, same sex relationships are illegal. Gay men and lesbian women can face the death penalty. In contrast, Iran’s treatment of transgender people is markedly different.

30 years ago the religious government’s leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, an Islamic religious decree, that called for respect toward transgender people in Iran. This opened the way for the government’s support of transgender citizens and gender transition surgery.

The Iranian government grants transgender individuals loans to go toward the cost of transition surgery and they are referred to Iran’s Health Ministry for procedures.

The support the transgender community receives in Iran reflects that the government there has the most open mindset in the Middle East for transgender issues, yet the Islamic Republic’s policies do not affirm a broad spectrum of gender identity, such as genders other than male or female, and policies there clearly do not protect same sex couples. The government’s view on supporting gender transition surgery has the aim of fitting transgender people into a straight male, straight female binary system.

Despite the 30 year old religious fatwa, transgender people in Iran still face discrimination and harassment from the culture, public community and often their own families.

In America the road to transgender equality has now gained national attention, but that road has always had a lot of foot traffic and plenty of travellers. Transgender men and women continue to fight for equality and understanding here and abroad.

Furthermore, the recognition of non-binary genders is an important subject that has gained some ground in the United States. In Oregon a resident became the first person to get a court’s approval to list their gender as non-binary. Recently, the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project helped a Sara Kelly Kennan obtain an intersex birth certificate. There are only a handful of countries in the world that allow their citizens to list a gender other than male or female on official documents.

Many countries are far ahead of the United States in their positive affirmation of the transgender population as well as LGBT rights. Many countries are far behind. But we believe the world is waking up.

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