“I Have Kept this Issue of Being Trans Completely Secret”: Gender Norms in Iranian Society and the Experiences of Transgender Men in Sport


In this study, we examine the complexity of sport participation in Iran amongst transgender (trans) men participating in women’s sport spaces. Using interviews with twelve Iranian trans men across a variety of sports, we consider how binary understandings of gender – alongside gender-related cultural expectations – impact how trans men convey masculinities. In sport spaces, evidence suggests some trans men conceal their true gender identity, while others may reveal it or are ‘outed’ by their peers. Trans men’s gender expression is also monitored and scrutinized, with masculine appearances such as short haircuts discouraged, and in some cases instances of hormone testing apparent for those considered ‘suspicious’. Boundaries of gender are found to be policed by coaches, teammates, and parents, with instances of exclusion, marginalization, and victimization. This paper provides a critical understanding of trans inclusion in sport spaces in Iran; however, the findings may be useful for anyone working to make sport more accessible for gender-diverse people, regardless of geographical location.


Catherine Phipps
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Sport, Health, and Social Sciences, Solent University, Hampshire, United Kingdom


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Gender Equity and Policy


Gender, Transgender, Masculinities, Iran, Middle East

Digital Media


"I Have Kept This Issue Of Being Trans Completely Secret” (Embed)