Tag Archives: Gender Binary

Lauren Lubin and ‘We Exist’: A Documentary on the Life of Non-Binary People

Existing is a sum of many things: of being recognized, represented, talked about but also in an affirming way and not simply being referred at in psychiatric textbooks. Existing means being part of a language and incorporated into its habits, having your specific needs identified and catered to, your problems and demands heard and the differences that make you into the unique individual that you are accepted and validated. Existing is not just about living and breathing and going to work.

If you have faced several forms of sexism, racism, ableism, homo-bi-ace/phobia, transphobia or intersex-phobia before, you may already have the experience of what it is like to be a living human being but to have your identity denied, erased, concealed, abused or stripped of its individual existence.

In activism there is no point in making competitions out of people’s suffering and oppression. Someone will always have it better than you, and someone will always have it worse than you because of endless mingling webs of intersecting paths and reasons. That doesn’t mean that we can’t – or that we’re not supposed to – focus on the specific characteristics that distinguish the different forms of oppression each complex identity is facing.

When it comes to people whose gender does not fall strictly into the man-woman binary system that society is imposing on us, one of the main forms of oppression they are faced with, is the denying of their existence. Worst of all (as happens with other LGBTQ+ identities as well), the erasure non-binary people might have to deal with, doesn’t only come from outside the queer community, but also stems vastly from within it.

Non-binary experiences are still being stubbornly ignored even within the LGBTQ+ community, not only from non-straight, but also from binary trans people, resulting to a harmful lack of safe spaces for non-binary individuals.

Society insists on being disrespectful towards non-binary people, starting from the distant, seemingly theoretical debates on grammar and on whether we should accept people’s pronouns, to the insistence on segregating everything by gender, sports, restrooms, hair salons, and practically almost everything else we deal with, participate into or are part of in our everyday lives.

This can only be extremely harmful for both the physical and mental health of non-binary individuals, who rarely ever have their voices properly heard and their needs taken into consideration.

Lauren Lubin is the creator and executive producer of the upcoming documentary We Exist, which explores the lives of people who experience their gender in a way different than those who identify as either men or women. The production of this documentary started four years ago and it is one of the biggest initiatives worldwide that have to do with the specific experiences of non-binary people, narrated by them as they interact with all aspects of flawed, binary societies.


The documentary is an intimate work that reaches up to the most personal issues that a gender-non-conforming trans person might face and can function as a crucial point of reference, relation and inclusion for non-binary people from all over the world.

Lauren Lubin says, in their After Ellen interview with Kim Hoffman, concerning their hopes about the release of We Exist:

I have always seen this film as the first step toward tackling and changing the many oppressing social issues people like myself face. And already, I’ve seen how We Exist has begun to make such changes, particularly among my followers in the We Exist community. My hope for this undertaking has always been to create a film that people like myself can share with their loved ones and say, “Hey, this is me. This is how I feel. I’m not the only one.”

And indeed, We Exist has already grown into a worldwide movement, a phenomenon with visible positive effects when it comes to the representation that non-binary people are deprived of. The platform already extends to 67 different countries and it represents experiences of individuals from around the globe, crossing boundaries set by age, race and culture and offering a multi-dimensional picture of non-binary experience.  People are finally seeing themselves reflected on a project, amongst thousands of other projects that insisted on focusing specifically on either men or women:

I discovered Lauren earlier this week and it’s an incredibly important discovery for me because I now know that I exist. I am gender neutral and hopefully I am at just the beginning… to finally live as me.” –S.


I am so happy to see this that this brought tears to my eyes… After 26 years I am happy ro finally have a place in this world. I am happy that gender identity is becoming more talked about and educated on… I want to thank everyone involved for the work you are doing. This will save lives and encourage people. THANK YOU!!!” –E. (from the We Exist Media Kit found on the We Exist Official Website).

Lubin believes that

it is absolutely within society’s reach, to expand upon the current gender binary system. It’s clear now, and the science backs it up: Gender—like sexuality—does exist on a spectrum. There are pockets of change already occurring all over the world: from Nepal recognizing a third gender, to individual establishments and schools implementing gender neutral bathrooms, to Facebook enabling their users to define their gender on their own terms. But in order to institutionalize and integrate a broader gender system across all of society—academia, medicine, legislation, government identification, and so forth—it’s imperative for change and accountability to occur at the top. Until then, it’s up to us individuals to educate, advocate and lobby against the status quo until that happens.”

They also refer to the discrimination and the erasure a non-binary person has to deal with in most parts of their everyday life:

My current reality as a non-binary person living in a binary world is that once I leave my home, there are very few public spaces where I can fully exist. What’s more, legally I do not fully exist as my true self, which not only dehumanizes my person but also make my life extremely difficult and unsafe. The ideal, perfect day for me would be just like anyone else’s: to step out into the world without question or fear, knowing that I do and can exist as I am, wherever I am, and to be recognized, respected and protected exactly as I am.”

Non-binary identities are often shut down as “Tumblr SJW made-up identities”, downright refusing to respect people’s existence as well as their rightful, valid experiences. In all honesty, no one should demand proof for the way a person experiences their gender and sexuality, given that people’s identities don’t harm other people or their respectful identities in any way.

However, even science backs up the idea that sexuality and gender fall onto a spectrum. One recent research led by the Medical University of Vienna and presented in Huffington Post last year, shows that the human brain holds a wide range of gender differences varying from person to person, independently by their biological sex characteristics. In a society where trans experiences are more often than not pathologized, and their identities objectified, sexualized and heavily misrepresented.

According to the We Exist Media Kit, the documentary circles around Lauren’s life, showing  everyday reality for a person identifying as gender neutral and leaving a positive, empowering note. The trailer looks amazing, both sentimentally and aesthetically, and gives us glimpses of Lauren’s childhood, athletic dedication and transition, promising us a multi-dimensional depiction that can raise awareness about people whose gender doesn’t fall within the binary. Lauren Lubin is actually a multi-talented person, having earned a full scholarship for basketball at the University of Colorado, today spreading awareness about gender issues through their documentary. They have published two books: The Rainforest Awakenings and The Thoughtless Revolution.

Their voice has been heard on ABC Good Morning, Curve Magazine, Out Magazine, TIME, The Huffington Post, on the Everyone Is Gay Tumblr Blog with Kristin Russo (co-founder of The Parents Project, a digital resource for parents of LGBTQ+ children) where they explained what the gender binary means and how gender is a spectrum and spoke about their journey of discovery. They have given an interview with Rebecca Ruiz on Mashable, where they addressed the issue of assuming people’s gender in everyday life without giving much thought into it. Lauren Lubin have also given speeches at several schools, universities and youth organizations such as the Columbia University, the Trinity College, the University of Colorado, Lurie’s Children Hospital Safe Space Day, SpeakingOUT Organization, and many more.

The documentary is directed and edited by Andrew Seger, a Brooklyn-based editor and producer who has worked together with Starbucks, VOGUE and other projects.

There might be a rise in the conversation about LGBTQ+ issues, but equality has not been achieved, especially for the least represented, understood and discussed identities. This is why initiatives such as We Exist are deemed absolutely vital to raise awareness for non-binary and gender-non-conforming issues.



Butch In The Bathroom: What Sucks About Gendered Places

In my life, I know that my own “invisibility” invokes a bit of safety for me. I know that, since people don’t believe I’m a lesbian, the only homophobia I will experience is second-hand stuff that’s not exactly directed at me, but I catch it from the side. I know that I can feel safe blending in, not being something so spectacular as to draw attention to myself. Yes, I’m lucky.

But for those in the community who don’t blend in – who stand out – who are true to their nature, homophobia can still run rampant. The campy men who are chastised for it by straight men and other gay men alike. The butch lesbians who somehow embody the stereotypes of all lesbians, but who are becoming a rare creature. The trans people who don’t quite “pass” and want nothing more than to be accepted as they are.

I don’t know what it’s like to have management called on me in the restroom for my (allegedly) perverted ways. I don’t know what it’s like to be called “sir” and “he”. I don’t know what it’s like to be denied equality because I was “different”. Because I’m not different – I blend in.

These people who don’t blend in, or for the ones who can’t, they deserve respect. They often put up with more than I could imagine, and this year alone has shown so much hate killing – and for what? If you’re a member of the invisible community, I think it’s time we acknowledge the battles of those who are highly visible, too.


What are some of the things that happen when you don’t fit into a binary gender?

People’s uncomfortable looks.

If you don’t fall within the gender binary that defines gendered places, there’s a risk of discomforting the other bathroom patrons. Butch women may be mistaken for men. Transwomen may be mistaken for men. Transmen may be mistaken for women. All of these things have the potential to escalate to harassment and assault.


Those who don’t fit into the binary genders but choose to go along with the “perception” of which restroom they should use face danger as well. Since many non-binary people are hard to pinpoint exactly, the assumption by the homophobic may be to assume that they belong somewhere else, no matter which side of the spectrum they fall on. It’s not the case everywhere, thankfully, but it is a risk that must be assessed.


I have never once been misgendered (well, except on the internet), and I am thankful for this. I couldn’t fathom how much pain it must cause for someone to misgender you, particularly in a situation when you’re just trying to do what you need to do. Non-binary people who deal with this on a daily basis, I lift my hat to you. You are stronger than I.


Projections and assumptions about your “exact” gender definition may happen, on a regular basis, with complete strangers. Highly feminine women may feel threatened by you. Highly masculine men may feel taunted by you. Or it might be the opposite. Either way, your sexuality is perceived on full display, and people invite themselves to make speculations about you – without even knowing you. I respect your strength in dealing with these people.

Being policed.

Butch women have reported that it feels like their gender identity is on trial – and I’m sure there are trans individuals who feel exactly the same way. It is not our responsibility to validate them, and it is not our right. You don’t get to decide who or what someone is, under any circumstances. Ladies and gentlemen who put up with this discrimination, you are valid, and you mean so much for not waiting for their acceptance.


To the women who watch how they act in the public restrooms in order to keep from making anyone else uncomfortable; To the transmen who wait until the bathroom is empty so no one sees you’re using a stall; To the butch women who avoid eye contact while waiting in line… I respect your struggle. You shouldn’t have to keep yourself in line with their expectations, but you do. You are strong and you are polite – even when the world doesn’t want you to be.

For more information…

This article was inspired by Butch Please: Butch in the Bathroom, which brought light to many of the daily struggles faced by those who don’t fit into the binary gender. All credit for the idea goes to Kate, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to see into your experience.

I have always held a fondness for those who existed somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and her narrative inspired a new, greater respect. If you’ve got the time, please go read it – whether you fall within the binary or not.

MTV Celebrates Diversity With ‘It’s Our Prom: A Night To De-Gender’

Just last week, a prom proposal went viral when Jacob Lescenski asked his best friend Anthony Martinez to prom. The two were featured on Ellen, where they talked about how grateful they are to go to a high school that supports anyone who wants to go to prom, no matter who they bring as a date.

However, not everyone is this supported. For people who do not fit into the gender binary, prom can be a difficult experience. Students are often given restrictions on what they can wear, who they can bring as their dates, and sometimes are rejected from prom all together.

Enter MTV News, who wanted to send the message that prom is for everyone, so they asked 12 young adults with diverse gender identities to help create a series of looks that celebrate the fashion and true joy that’s possible when no one is excluded – It’s Our Prom: A Night To De-Gender.

Among the models for this shoot was Tiq Milan, who works with media outlets to ensure accurate and fair reporting for trans people.

It’s important for young people to see examples of LGBT and gender non-conforming folks having fun and showing love to one another. I would love for schools all across the country to allow students to come to prom in whatever makes them feel good and with the date of their choosing.”

This story highlights the importance of inclusion and support for the LGBT community in high schools. Every student should have the opportunity to attend and enjoy their prom, no matter their gender identity or sexuality.
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It is important to promote messages of acceptance and authenticity among high school communities, and to let all LGBT people know that you can be your true self at prom, and we’ve #GotYourBack.

New Documentary “We Exist” Shows What It’s Like to Live Outside the Gender Binary

When you use a public bathroom, when you’re shopping for clothes or even when you choose the place that you go and have your hair done, you are constantly forced to choose between male and female. But what if you’re neither? What if you don’t identify as male or female or what if you feel as though you’re somewhere in between? Society doesn’t always accommodate that identity and for non-binary and gender queer individuals, it can be a headache as they are forced to apply a gender to themselves that just doesn’t fit.

A new documentary called We Exist aims to tackle the gender binary head on, by both raising awareness about the non-binary identity (and what it is, for those who are unaware) and to also explain the challenges faced by non-binary individuals who live in an inherently gendered world.

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Creator and executive producer of We Exist, Lauren Lubin explains that:

This film is unique because it is the first of its kind to intimately document the everyday life—as well as the emotional, physical, and mental changes—that non-binary individuals go through while living in a binary world. Up until now, gender has been depicted within society and the media as exclusively as either male or female. This is one of the first films to really break that mold entirely.”

Lubin also says that with shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black discussing trans* identities, it shows that society as a whole is ready to talk about gender and understand that just like sexuality, gender exists on a spectrum – a spectrum that doesn’t just have ‘male’ and ‘female’ at either end, with nothing in the middle.


But in order for society to accommodate non-binary identities, a lot of change will be made, explains Lubin.

In order to institutionalize and integrate a broader gender system across all of society—academia, medicine, legislation, government identification, and so forth—it’s imperative for change and accountability to occur at the top. Until then, it’s up to us individuals to educate, advocate and lobby against the status quo until that happens.”

That change may be some time away, but with documentaries like We Exist, that change will happen sooner rather than later.