In the Islamic Republic of Iran, transsexualism is legal. After Thailand, it is the nation with the most gender reassignment surgeries in the world. Part of this surgery is even helped financially by the government. Transsexual people have to go to the psychologist and after being diagnosed as sick people, they can commence a long and difficult pathway of changing gender. This apparently normalised reality is not as simple as it seems. This surgery is not an option, it is an obligation in order to be accepted by society. Many transsexual people feel comfortable with themselves and don’t want to take the surgery and so they live under unfair impositions created by a close minded government and society.
The case of the homosexual collective is even worse, as they could be confronted by capital punishment. They can’t protest and they don’t have neither voice nor alternatives. HIDDEN IRAN project that I commenced in October 2018 reflects the raw reality of young transsexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals that don’t fit in their environment; I portray how and where they hang out, how they socialise, their dreams and hopes…
Arvinadnani, Amirali, Ayda, Saman, Ari, Sadeq, Mehdi and many more saw on me their only opportunity of telling their stories and protested with the hope that maybe one day someone could help them. They dream with their freedom, in or out of their country. I spent one entire month getting to know them deeply and following their steps, without altering anything in their daily routine.
We lost Mehdi along the way. He could not bare the pressure, and he took his own life. As he told me himself, his family never accepted him as gay. He was professor in a University and was living alone, as it was impossible to rent a place with his partner. Likewise the above mentioned youngsters, he had to hide his homosexuality or he could lose everything. He wasn’t the first nor will be the last losing this battle.