FINCH has unveiled a film for Beyond Binary that explores gender, identity, and the fluid, modern contours of the digital world, directed by Zia Mandviwalla. A push for a more inclusive, expansive internet, the film – a collaboration with Spark and OutLine – encourages businesses to move away from the simple choice of ‘male’ or ‘female’ on online forms, and question whether they even need to ask for gender. After all, nobody likes to be put in a box.
“I wanted to show how profoundly people are impacted when they are misgendered online,” says Zia. “To not feel seen or accepted for who you are is devastating. Beyond Binary is more than just code, it offers the freedom for people to be seen as they truly are, educating society and businesses about the complexities of gender identity. It was a privilege to get to know our cast and have them share their stories and experiences with us.”
The spot features members of the LGBTQIA+ community, sharing their stories and their struggles, while shrouded by the ubiquitous markers of gender identity – gender reveal parties, faces being shaved, lipstick being applied.
“If you’ve never questioned your gender,” cuts a voice through the visual noise of the cumulative harms that many people face every time they log onto the internet, “you probably don’t notice how often you get gendered online. But as a non-binary person, it affects me every single day.”
By turning the chaos of the internet into a series of flashing, overwhelming images, the film emphasises the slow build of being misgendered. It’s about the way that what can seem like a minor decision – ticking a box, clicking a drop-down link – can become fraught with shame and secrecy. “We’re forced to go invisible,” one voice says, simply, as digital text sprawls across the screen.
As these voices reveal, however, change is possible. Beyond Binary’s code allows internet users to express themselves and their gender in complex ways. Co-created with New Zealand’s rainbow communities, the code encourages businesses to re-think their reasons for collecting gender data, and give more room for new and varied forms of self-expression.
At the climax, the film gives rise to a future where the internet reflects the people who use it, and reveals our speakers, giving them the space to properly introduce themselves. “I’m Jess,” says one shining face, finally free to tell their own story, in their own voice. “I’m queer, I am a new mama.”
In that way, Beyond Binary is part of a broader push to make the internet – and the business world – more accommodating of complex gender identities. The impact that such inclusivity has on the LGBTQIA+ community is real. Navigating the digital realm in a free and truly accessible way allows the world to grow a little more complex; a little more diverse.
And, as the film shows in its final, glowing images, it gives room for trans and non-binary people to stand firmly and on their own two feet, in the bright light of true gender freedom.
Beyond Binary is being rolled out now.