The little problem in Iran you’re not reading about

With the current political tumult in Iran dominating headlines, the documentary Be Like Others (debuting 6/24 on HBO2) takes a fascinating and intimate look at a different— if less-discussed — topic: Iranian transsexuals living under strict Islamic rule.

Considering homosexuality in Iran is punishable by death, it might come as a surprise to learn that sex-change operations are legal. The loophole is simple: Nothing is written in the Koran specifically condemning transsexuals from embracing their true gender. Iranian director Tanaz Eshaghian follows a group of young men as they prepare for their transformation. The painstakingly detailed and poignant film is unblinking in its portrayal of the prejudices (and confusion) among families and friends, and shows how far people will go for a chance to embrace their true nature. We won’t spoil what happens, but when one post-op transsexual actually suggests things would be different if she lived in Afghanistan, you know not all endings are necessarily happy ones.

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