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Abstract:
Short compilation of extracts from letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in response to questions concerning the subjects of transsexuality and sex-change operations.
Notes:

Transsexuality and Sex-Change Operations

compiled on behalf of Universal House of Justice.
2002
[1] a. The House of Justice has not found any text in the Bahá’í writings which deals explicitly with the subjects of transsexuality or surgical operations carried out to change sex or to establish a single sex. It has decided that changes of sex or attempts to change sex should, at the present time, be considered medical questions on which advice and guidance should be sought from experts in that field.

b. If a Bahá’í has had surgery and a change of sex has been registered officially on the birth certificate or otherwise, marriage is permissible to a person of the sex opposite to that which is officially registered. (31 August 1983 to an individual believer)

[2] On the specific question of changing one’s sex, the House of Justice has not found any text; its view is that this subject is primarily a medical question and as such requires advice and guidance from experts in that field.... It is not within the province of the Assembly to advise Mr. ... whether or not to undergo a sex-change procedure, but it does have the right to request him to provide it with documentary evidence, both medical and civil, stating what his/her sex is. In other words, until it receives proof that he has become female, it must go on the premise that he is male and his moral behaviour must be governed by Bahá’í principles on that basis. Once it is certified that his sex has been changed, he would need to observe Bahá’í moral principles as they apply to a woman, and the community would, presumably, be informed of the change. In other words, undergoing the procedure is a medical matter and the Assembly is concerned only with the change of status which it would produce. The Local Spiritual Assembly also expresses concern about his current behaviour which gives the impression of homosexuality, and thus places in question the morality of his having roommates of either sex, no matter what stage the sex-change procedure has reached. An example is his dressing as a woman while still, apparently, being a man. Such actions could well be regarded as giving the appearance of immoral behaviour and as having the potential for bringing the community into disrepute. As you are well aware, if a believer’s conduct conspicuously disgraces the Faith and brings serious injury to its reputation, his voting rights are subject to deprivation; generally such an action should be taken only after the person has been counselled and warned of the possible consequences of his behaviour. (27 December 1987 to a National Spiritual Assembly) [footnote: The National Spiritual Assembly sought guidance on behalf of a Local Spiritual Assembly.]

[3] Believers experiencing personal problems are free to turn to their Local Spiritual Assembly or to an Auxiliary Board member or assistant; indeed they can approach any believer from whom they feel it useful to solicit information or advice. The Auxiliary Board members and their assistants are a valuable element of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, with functions which include the counselling of believers. As you can well understand, some Bahá’ís experiencing personal problems may not wish to discuss these matters, out of considerations of personal privacy; the Institutions of the Faith should not force their attentions on these believers, unless concern for the reputation and good name of the Faith requires such institutional involvement. (20 March 1988 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

[4] The House of Justice has not found any text in the Bahá’í Writings which deals explicitly with the subjects of transsexuality or surgical operations carried out to change sex or to establish a single sex. It has decided that changes of sex or attempts to change sex should, at the present time, be considered questions on which advice and guidance should be sought from experts in that field. If such medical opinion advises a change of sex, and the individual concerned decides to accept the advice given, no administrative sanction should be imposed by Bahá’í institutions on that individual. (29 December 1989 to an individual believer)

[5] As far as a sex change operation is concerned, we have not come across anything in the Writings and the Universal House of Justice has not made any legislations about the matter; therefore, for the time being the matter is considered to be a medical issue and it is all right to undergo surgery provided the patient consents to it and it meets the approval of skilled physicians. (21 June 1993 to an individual believer)

[6] As regards the question of her status concerning gender, she should be advised that the legal aspect of this matter is apparently unresolved by civil law, and the question of a change in gender will not be considered by the National Spiritual Assembly until that resolution occurs. (15 December 1998 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

[7] In response to your email message of 17 September 1999 requesting information on the position of the Bahá’í Faith towards individuals undergoing sex-change operations, the Universal House of Justice has advised us to provide the following reply. On the specific question of changing one’s sex, the Universal House of Justice has not found any text; its view is that this subject is primarily a medical question and as such requires advice and guidance from experts in that field. It would not be within the province of a Spiritual Assembly to advise an individual whether or not to undergo a sex-change procedure, but it does have the right to request such an individual to provide it with documentary evidence, both medical and civil, stating what his/her sex is. In other words, until it receives proof that a male has become female, it must go on the premise that he is male. Once it is certified that his sex has been changed, the institutions and community would act towards that person in accordance with that fact. Whatever one’s sex, one would need to observe Bahá’í moral principles in one’s relations to any other man or woman. (10 October 1999 to an individual believer)

[8] … the Spiritual Assembly plays an important role in determining when a believer’s dress or behaviour is appropriate. It welcomes into membership of the Bahá’í community those who it assesses to satisfy the belief requirements for such membership and it provides guidance, as it deems necessary, to the believers concerning their conduct. (25 January 2001 to an individual believer)

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