Be Like Others, Q & A w/ Tanaz Eshagian

In the lead up to Trans Rememberance Day, whether intentionally or coincidentally there are several trans stories in NYC events this week. As your faithful socialite, I dragged myself uptown to see Be Like Others at Lincoln Center. Eshagian, the Iranian-American filmmaker returns to her home country and films a group of Transwomen who are pre and post sex change operation. Most of the footage is shot in the clinic where there operations take place, with extensive focus put on the doctor who performs the procedure. He is part of a group of men in the government of The Islamic Republic of Iran who have either decided, agreed with or implemented the concept, put in place by Ayatollah Khomieni (the father of the Iranian Islamic Revolution), that sex-changes are permissible under Islam. Khomeini passed a Fatwa to this effect, officially declaring them legal. In a country where homosexuality is highly illegal and punishable by a stoning death penalty, it is surprising that being transsexual is so legal that people are given a new legal name and passport post-op. Take a look at the trailer, only available on her website and a brief interview with her below.

Much of what’s contained in this interview was seconded by the vibe I got off her last night. She didn’t really seem to want to take sides, so to speak. I wasn’t sure if this was just another case of the gay disclaimer, or if she was really a distant outsider, looking in at this story from the perspective of novelty. The film sheds light on an interesting subject that not many people know about. In that sense its investigative journalism, but in terms of its humanity at moments I wondered if Eshagian herself was transphobic, or if she was just somehow hiding behind a lens of impartiality. Questions for the interview, I guess. If you read this, talk back! Maybe she will be at transhistorian, Susan Styker’s lecture at the CUNY Grad center tonight at 6:30? See you there.

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