Awareness about LGBTQ people

By:Dr. Rezvan Moghaddam

Every year between November 13 and 19, civil organizations and activists participate in Awareness Week about the transgender population to help increase their visibility and address the problems faced by members in the community. During Transgender Awareness Week, transgender people and their allies teach the public about who transgender people are by sharing stories and experiences, and by promoting support for the transgender community to help draw public attention to their issues.

An annual ceremony is held on November 20 to commemorate transgender people who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence that year. 2021 is the deadliest year on record with the murder of at least 45 transgender people, most of whom were black or Latino.

The ceremony is usually held by transgender allies and LGBT+ organizations in community centers, parks, city squares, and other places. The ceremony often involves reading a list of those who were killed that year.

Most people do not have a clear idea of a society supportive of transgender people due to ignorance of the characteristics of a transgender-friendly society. This is to the extent that some people hate them, mistakenly believe that transgender people damage the “image” of family and society, and even try to kill them.

Dozens of members of the LGBT+ community are killed each year by relatives and traditionalists. Because homosexuality is criminalized in Iran, most homosexuals hide their sexual orientation for fear of punishment. If exposed, they may face the death penalty.

In May 2021, Alireza Fazeli, a 20-years old gay man living in the Ahvaz Masir neighborhood, was taken by his family to the Borumi area of Ahvaz, where he was brutally murdered by his brother and his cousins.[1] Members of the sexuality minority community in Iran have no support and no security of life. They are both pressured by society and insulted, threatened and abused by their own families.

Hussein, also known as Siavash, a 23 years old gay man, was shot to death by his father in Khorramabad because his parents did not accept his sexual identity. He was subjected to physical and psychological abuse by his father and brother to the point where he suffered broken limbs, was deprived of food, and was forbidden to participate in family gatherings and parties. Siavash sought help and went to the Social Welfare Bureau many times to obtain a permit for gender reassignment, but his father went to the Bureau and threatened them. Eventually, in August 2017 his father shot him several times and killed him.[2]

According to a Pew Research Center poll, 68 percent of Americans believe they have never met a transgender person in person, meaning there is insufficient media education and public awareness about the transgender community.[3] LGBT+ people are largely misrepresented, which significantly affects public perceptions, policies, and attitudes about the transgender community.

The difference between the concept of sex and gender

The concept of sex is related to the biological characteristics of the body, which includes sexual organs and reproduction of the individual. Biological characteristics such as hormones, chromosomes, and both internal and external sex organs can play a major role in gender differences. Separately, gender is a social construct and includes social maps and behaviors that culture and society assign to gender. These maps determine the range of behavioral expectations of the genders (male and female).

Gender identity

Gender identity is the gender a person identifies with in their mind, and this may not always correspond with their sexual organs or physical characteristics. People whose gender identity and sex do not match are considered transgender people. The formation of gender identity begins in childhood and is reinforced in adolescence. Some theorists in the field of gender have found that human growth and development continue after childhood, and individuals maintain the capacity to grow and change in relation to sexual identity. In most societies, gender is defined on the basis of male-female duality, but one may not consider oneself to belong to either, identify with both, or identify outside of gender duality.

Gender expression

Gender expression is the behavioral aspects and external manifestations of gender identity that are defined by stereotypes and societal expectations, and usually divided into feminine or masculine behaviors. Gender expression can include how to dress, hairstyle, clothing color, gender patterns, and any type of gender expression that may have different meanings in different cultures and societies.

Gender role

Gender roles are a set of behaviors, actions, states, and personality traits that are attributed to a particular gender in that culture. Gender roles are culture-oriented and most cultures believe in two genders (female-male) in the traditional sense, for example requiring men to work hard and women to be housewives. Traditional gender maps give men more cultural power, leading to a developed sense of superiority over women.

Gender roles play an important role in gender stereotypes. For example, they lead to technical disciplines being specifically for boys and the humanities specifically for girls. Gender stereotypes attributed to women include: weakness, passivity, dependence, emotionality, and desire for the arts and literature. It is clear that gender roles and stereotypes also lead to gender inequality, loss of opportunities, and the imposition of prohibitions.

Changing Attitudes

Now days, with the entry of women into various disciplines and different occupations, theories related to gender roles have been intensely questioned. People regardless of their gender can excel in various occupations. Talent in mathematics has nothing to do with gender. With the growth of gender and sexuality studies, even some gay marriages have been recognized by countries and transgender people hold senior government positions.

In recent years, several prominent Americans have emerged as transgender or non-binary (ie, not exclusively male or female). Governments at the federal and state levels have also moved to provide greater legal protections for transgender people and the official recognition of non-binary identities. At the same time, an unprecedented number of state-wide bills have sought to limit gender definitions to gender at birth.

From a Pew Research Center poll: Those who reported knowing someone who was transgender were more likely to believe that a person’s gender could be different from their gender at birth. Fifty-four percent of Americans who know a transgender person say that a person can be a man or a woman, even if that gender is different from the gender assigned to him or her at birth.

Finally, information and efforts to raise public awareness of the transgender community, especially during Awareness Week, are essential in reducing violence at the national, local, and global levels. Awareness Week is an opportunity to get to know the LGBT community by supporting them while publishing content, forming communities, and holding seminars and conferences.

The use of this article with mentioning the source is unhampered.


[1] Online exhibition prepared by Rezvan Moghadam Access to the website of the campaign to stop honor killings

[2] https://stophonorkillings.org/en/category/gallery/page/2/

[3] Minkin Rachel and Brown. Anna ,Rising shares of U.S. adults know someone who is transgender or goes by gender-neutral pronouns, JULY 27, 2021

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