Be Like Others (also known as Transsexual in Iran) is a 2008 documentary film written and directed by Tanaz Eshaghian about transsexuals in Iran. It explores issues of gender and sexuality while following the personal stories of some of the patients at a Tehran clinic.
Although homosexual relationships are illegal (punishable by death) in Iran, sex reassignment operations are permitted. In 1983, spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini passed a fatwa allowing sex-change operations as a cure for “diagnosed transsexuals”. Be Like Others shows the experiences of male and female patients at Dr. Bahram Mir-Jalali’s Mirdamad Surgical Centre, a sex-reassignment clinic in Tehran.
One of them is Ali Askar, a 24 year-old man who faces harassment from other men due to his feminine appearance and behaviour. He does not want to become a woman but sees no other options for him in Iranian society.
He decides to go ahead with the surgery despite death threats from his father and finds support from Vida, a post-operative transsexual he meets at the clinic. By the end of the film, Ali has become a woman named Negar. She has been disowned by her family, experienced depression and has had to work as a prostitute. 20 year-old Anoosh is another young man who has been ostracised due to his femininity.
His boyfriend feels more comfortable when Anoosh dresses as a woman, and in contrast to Ali, Anoosh’s mother is supportive of his desire to change sex. The end of the film shows Anoosh — now Anahita — happy and engaged to her boyfriend.