Beyond Binaries


My article entitled “The Nexus between Gender-Confirming Surgery and Illness: Legal-Hermeneutical Examinations of Four Islamic Fatwas” has recently been published in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (18(3): 359-386.
In this essay, I investigate Muslim jurists’ legal opinions (fatwas) on permitting gender-confirming surgery (GCS) for various groups of intersex and/or transgender people. However, these fatwas have been critiqued for conceiving of intersex and transgender individuals as diseased people who need treatment for an illness. Examining four widely cited fatwas on GCS—the fatwas of the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League, the National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs, Shaykh Ṭanṭāwī, and Ayatollah Khomeini—I argue that although the objection to the medicalization of the recipients of GCS in such fatwas is mostly correct, it is not always accurate, as it is not the case in Khomeini’s fatwa. The present study, based on the legal-hermeneutical reasoning established in modern Shiʿi legal scholarship, proposes a discursive space within Khomeini’s fatwa which suggests that intersex and transgender individuals are not people who suffer from physical or mental illness, although they should be permitted to undergo GCS if they wish.
Article (free-access Author Link):

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