In the ultra-conservative society of Iran — where women must wear veils in public — amazingly, sex change operations are permitted. Because the Koran does not say anything on the subject, Ayatollah Khomeini even granted religious permission for people to get sex change operations. One Iranian specialist on the operations went as far as to say, “If Iran is a paradise for transsexuals, it’s because of the good support of the authorities.”
The Birthday follows one young man in the period right before and after surgery. We meet his boyfriend, other transsexuals (among them, a woman becoming a man), doctors, and clergymen who discuss the effect on an Islamic society. We meet his family, who are very religious and have a hard time dealing with the change, but nevertheless accept the new sexual identity of their son. Many questions are raised by the film, including why a supposed “free” man would choose to lead the veiled life of a woman in Iran.
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For more on the film, visit the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam website.