We Exist: Beyond the Binary Is a Powerful Reclamation of Existence

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Latonya Pennington

Non-binary people are often invalidated by being told that their gender isn't real and that they pretty much don't exist. The documentary We Exist: Beyond the Binary refutes this idea by depicting the personal journey of gender neutral filmmaker, activist, and writer Lauren Lubin. Not only did Lubin write and narrate the film, but the film also features examinations of gender identity from agender writer and advocate Tyler Ford, personality and LGBTQ activist Kristen Russo, Dr. Charles Garramone, and Dr. Anthony Vavasis.

One of the best aspects of the film is how intimate the content is. We see Lubin's life through home movies, photographs, and creative reenactments. As the narrator and someone recreating pivotal events from their life, Lubin is very frank and at times, vulnerable. One of the most memorable scenes from the film is when Lubin and their partner Kyle recount a drowning incident that occurred while the two stayed in the country of Costa Rica.

Complimenting the content are artistic visual motifs that represent Lubin's journey to embracing their gender neutral identity. This motif not only represents the gender dysphoria Lubin felt prior to their transition, but also the pressure to stifle your true self.

Besides Lubin themself, the discussions that occur between Tyler Ford, Kristen Russo, Dr. Charles Garramone, and Dr. Anthony Vavasis are educational. They serve to not only clear up misconceptions of gender identity, but also to show how much work there needs to be done for non-binary people. Their statements are clear enough that a person trying to do research on non-binary identity or trying to figure out their gender identity could use this film as a resource.

When it comes to the specifics of the conversations, the topics include things such as the difference between sex, gender identity, and gender expression, the spectrum of gender identity, and how society impacts non-binary people. As mentioned earlier, it is very basic, non-binary 101 material meant to serve as a resource for the viewer. Through Lubin's partner Kevin and Lubin's brother Philip, the material also demonstrates that it is possible for cis people to do the work and learn to rethink their ideas of gender and sexual orientation.

As Lubin tells their story, they make it clear that their story is not a universal one. Lubin states that not everyone ends up transitioning the way they did and that they are lucky to have a supportive family and partner. At the end of the film, there are clips of various non-binary individuals from various locations proclaiming that they exist, demonstrating that there are many non-binary people who deserve to be acknowledged.

As a whole, We Exist is an emotionally affecting film that uses the life of one non-binary person to shine a light on others. It is a personal reclamation of identity and existence that continues a conversation that has been going in public and private. While this film only scratches the surface of non-binary people, it leaves an incredible mark!

Watch the trailer for We Exist: Beyond the Binary in the video below. And watch the full documentary on Vimeo, here!

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