Gay? Get a Sex Change

A new documentary turns the camera on another source of controversy in Iran: transsexuality.

BY Sean Kennedy

June 23 2009 11:00 PM ET


Before his surgery, Ali-Askar sounds a note of regret, saying that he's a product of God and that he wouldn't change his gender if he didn't have to. It wasn't regret. He was thrilled -- he was certain that things were going to get clarified. He was just answering my question. He thought what he was doing made sense.

What about his boyfriend -- ostensibly he's interested in Ali because he's a man, but he's still interested in him as a woman? These are all questions. What he said [about Ali] was, "He's just another one of my girlfriends." At no point did he turn to me and say, "I like her because she's a guy." That's literally an unsayable thing in that environment.

When you were in Iran, did you talk to any gay men about this situation? I didn't know any gay guys there. I know gay Iranian guys here. It's not an out culture there.

What did your Iranian relatives and friends think about the film? Did they think it was such an American thing to do? No, they're normal people. If you approach [the subject matter] in a way that's sensationalistic, then it's going to be sensationalistic. I went out of my way to not do that. One of my favorite comments that people say to me is, "I forget whether they're transsexual or this or that. They're just human." That, to me, is the most important thing.

Tags: film