FLASHBACK: The Obama Admin’s State Department Called Iran’s Coerced Sex-Reassignment Surgeries ‘Gender-Confirmation’

Charlotte Clymer, a transgender activist and former press secretary for Human Rights Campaign, said Thursday that Iran “literally pays for trans-affirming medical care.” She applied a comparable phrase the State Department used during the Obama administration to refer to — what is often — coerced sex reassignment surgeries in Iran. 

Doctors in Iran can often pressure patients to change their sex as a “cure” for being gay, according to the BBC. The State Department referred to these procedures as “gender confirmation surgery.”

John Kerry, the secretary of state at the time, said there was nothing “sanctimonious” about the designation, and the U.S. needed to show “humility” in the face of its own racial inequality.

In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death. This, along with other coercive factors, compels gay men to accept government-subsidized surgeries — up to $2,030. (RELATED: State Department Officially Calls Iran’s Forced Sex Change Surgeries ‘Confirmation’)

By referring to the surgeries as “gender confirmation, rather than more neutral terminology — “sex reassignment surgery” — the State Department appeared to reinforce Iran’s leaders’ notion that the surgery is a “cure” for homosexuality.

In the 1980s, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa allowing gender reassignment surgery. However, Iran does not necessarily accept people who undergo those surgeries. Even after the surgeries, those people are often left unprotected from hate crimes or domestic violence, according to Deutsche Welle.

Marlo Safi