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18 November 2019

Kubrà (1912 - ?) Iran's first surgical gender confirmation

In the late 1920s the police in Garrus in Iranian Azerbaijan became aware of a young person with a non-standard gender. The person was referred to as “Kubrà, son of Tahir Sultan”, although Kubrà is a female name.

Kubrà was sent to Tehran, where the Police Health Office referred her to the state hospital. Kubrà was demanding that her male organs be surgically removed and her female ones be completed or she would kill herself. The doctors considered her a “khilqat-i ‘ajib” (wondrous creation) in that she had both male and female organs. While her body was considered to be predominantly male, in her feeling she was predominantly feminine, and her sexual "lust" was female.

A team of doctors led by Dr Khal‘atbari granted her desire, and she was operated on 24 October 1930. A report in the daily newspaper Ittila‘at reported that Kubrà was recovering well and was very happy. “This event is a wondrous story that speaks to Iran’s medical progress and the advance of its surgical capabilities”. It congratulated the hospital for having such specialised doctors.

  •  Afsaneh Najmabadi. Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran. Duke University Press, 2014: 41.
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Unlike so many others at that time, Kubrà's sense of being female was allowed to override the masculine predominance of her body.

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