An intimate and unflinching look at life in Iran, seen through the lens of those living at its fringes, 'Be Like Others' is a provocative look at a generation of young Iranian men choosing to undergo sex change surgery.

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Director: Tanaz Eshaghian
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An intimate and unflinching look at life in Iran, seen through the lens of those living at its fringes, 'Be Like Others' is a provocative look at a generation of young Iranian men choosing to undergo sex change surgery.

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19 January 2008 (USA)  »

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Be Like Others by Tanaz Eshaghian, USA/Canada/Iran (Documentary - International Premiere). Iranian men undergoing sex-change operations.
28 February 2008 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Be Like Others by Tanaz Eshaghian, USA/Canada/Iran (Documentary - International Premiere). Iranian men undergoing sex-change operations.

"You are unusual creatures, but completely normal." Thus a surgeon begins his consultation with a young Iranian man seeking a sex-change operation to love his boyfriend safely, as a woman. In the Islamic Republic of Iran. homosexuality is punishable by death. Twenty-five years ago, however, the Ayatollah Khomeini wrote a fatwa pronouncing transsexuality legal and allowing for sex-change operations. Pure logic

  • nothing in the Koran specifically forbids the surgery.




The operation is difficult, even brutal, according to a surgeon - a section of intestine is removed to fashion a vagina (chosen for texture and lubricating potential). Afterwards, the patient receives a new birth certificate with her new gender.

Difficulties extend into the ethical/moral sphere. Is society forcing these people to have an operation, as a rescue from a judgment of homosexuality? Doctors, Koranic experts, and patients offer their perspectives on the sense and apparent contradictions of the policy and practice.

Before surgery, one man explains his situation:

"If I didn't live in Iran, I wouldn't touch God's work." In the end, some of the patients are abandoned by boyfriends and family, and make money consummating temporary marriages - in essence, sanctioned prostitution. "I have killed love in my being," says one, expressing a deep regret in exile, shunned by parents and without a proper place in society.

With an American and Iranian passport, Eshaghian had great freedom to film and produce this document. No one in the government reviewed the tapes or the finished film. She is no ideologue - just a smart and compassionate documentarian.

Winner of the Teddy Jury Award.


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