Shekoufeh Behbehani | University of Amsterdam | (Un)screened Narratives: Non-Normative Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran.
The legalization of sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in the 1980s in Iran has created an ambivalent space within Iranian gender politics. Although politico-religious discourses on SRS recognize transsexuality without necessitating medical transitioning, they have created a system that perpetuates heteronormativity and gender binarism. Since the early 2000s, an increasing number of Iranian films and theatrical performances have engaged issues of gender and sexuality, highlighting the broader deployment of violence that organizes Iranian gender politics. In doing so, they have joined activists in Iran in producing a counter-discourse to the reigning politico-religious paradigm. Through an interdisciplinary lens, my project studies a recent corpus of films and performances that reveal the ambivalences within Iranian gender politics in relation to the regime of violence in the country. In light of these representations, I explore the extent to which Iran’s particular mapping of gender and sexuality both facilitates and constrains non-normativity and queerness.