The Islamic Republic legalised transsexuality in 1987 and is second only to Thailand in its number of trans surgeries.
However, prominent LGTB activists have told Sun Online that these procedures are part of a disturbing programme fuelled by homophobia.
Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and gay people are hanged from cranes in the street in sick public executions.
Iranian-born activist Shadi Amin says the Iranian regime, which is controlled by religious extremists, view being gay as an “illness” and that the only cure is to change the person’s gender.
She said: “The government believes that if you are a gay man your soul is that of a woman and you should change your body.
“We think this is a way to fight the existence of homosexual people because you change their body and you solve the problem.
They would rather carry out mass surgeries than executions because they know the world is watching themShadi Amin
“The regime gives gay people two choices – to be arrested as a homosexual and being punished even executed or change your body.
“They are trying to cleanse the country of homosexuals.
“They would rather carry out mass surgeries than executions because they know the world is watching them.”
The LGBT researcher says that Iranian government, including the Head of the Human Rights commission of Iran, has publicly said “we want to solve the problem, gay people are sick and they need the physical treatment.”
There are reportedly more than 4,000 trans operations carried out in Iran every year and most are subsidised by the government.
However, Shadi believes the real number to be much higher.
The activist, who lives in Germany, runs the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6Rang) – a community which helps LGBT people from Iran and raises awareness of their plight.
One doctor told the activist they carry out 30 to 40 surgeries every MONTH – and sometimes up to three procedures per day.
She said: “This shows that it’s big business for some doctors and many of them are not even specialists for trans people – many of them are cosmetic surgeons.”
Shadi, who fled Iran in 1983 following their Islamic revolution in 1979, says there is no support for trans people after the surgery.
Many are forced into sex work after being shunned by their families and subjected to sexual violence including rapes.
She said: “There is nothing which criminalises attacks against trans people.
“After the surgery, they have no rights anymore. There is no physiological support after the surgery.”
Peter Tatchell, a prominemnt British human rights campaigner, condemned the Iranian regime’s desire to “eradicate homosexuality.”
He told Sun Online: “The ayatollah’s are seeking to eliminate homosexuality by pressuring or forcing gay men to undergo gender reassignment surgery to make them ‘women’.
“Some gay men agree to become trans women to protect themselves from prosecution and execution when they have sex with men.