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. The film played at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, winning three awards.
Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the issue of transsexuality in Iran had never been officially addressed by the government. Beginning in the mid-1980s, however, transsexual individuals have been officially recognized by the government and allowed to undergo sex reassignment surgery. As of 2008, Iran carries out more sex change operations than any other nation in the world except for Thailand. The government even provides up to half the cost for those needing financial assistance and a sex change is recognised on the birth certificate.
In Iran changing gender from male to female brings full legal or cultural recognition of the new sex of the trans woman. Khomeini’s original fatwa has since been reconfirmed by the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is also supported by many other Iranian clerics.
However, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to the idea of transsexualism and gender reassignment in ordinary Iranian society, and most transsexuals, after completing their transition, are advised to maintain discretion about their past. Once a transsexual individual has undergone sex reassignment, that person legally becomes the proper sex – male, in the case of transsexual men, and female, in the case of transsexual women. All legal documents, such as birth certificates and passports, are also changed accordingly.