Cross-Dressing and Gender (Tres)Passing: The Transgender Move as a Site of Agential Potential in the New Iranian Cinema




This article traces the historical becoming of the contemporary supersaturation of images of queer and transgendered Iran through the narrative and tropic devices introduced by filmmakers in the past twenty years. I argue that the censorship code enforced by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is partly responsible for the formation of what has come to be a ubiquitous figure in the New Iranian cinema: the “cross-dressing” or “passing” figure. By performing close readings of Baran and Dokhtaraneh Khorshid—two films that are exemplary of a subgenre organized around the “cross-dressing” or “passing” figure—I identify a “transgender move”: a temporary space of political and agential potential that many spectators—both domestic and diasporic—seek in the post 1990s New Iranian cinema.