While focusing on three intersex individuals, Every Body digs deep into the archives but is an eye-opening look at the lives of intersex people.
I’m so used to watching Julie Cohen co-direct with Betsy West so to see her on a solo venture just feels different. Regardless, Cohen uses her platform to lift up a community that needs to lifting up. It comes at a time when transgender people are already marginalized. Intersex people might not necessarily be trans but many of them have to deal with the same terrible laws. If you were to look at some of the people in the film, you would never even know they were intersex unless they said something. Being intersex is something that brings shame, secrecy, and surgeries without consent. Or as we know it: medical abuse. It’s a different form of medical abuse than what is in Take Care of Maya. But still, it’s abuse without consent and medical doctors need to get with it.
The main subjects of the film are actor/screenwriter River Gallo (they/them), political consultant Alicia Roth Weigel (she/they), and Ph.D. student Sean Saifa Wall (he/him). While one could be quiet about being intersex, they choose to be loud. They choose to testify at city council and state government hearings about what changes need to happen in order to bring progress. They are on hand for the protests against those hospitals that are still “assigning” someone’s gender at birth. One such hospital is the Weill Cornell Hospital in New York. Menawhile, Cohen weaves in some older history about the intersex community. Because the film is from Focus and NBC News Studios, Cohen has access to the Dateline NBC and NBC News archives. As such, the film makes great use of Keith Morrison’s reporting on the David Reimer case.
Cohen previously worked as a Dateline NBC producer as well as a freelancer for NBC News Studios. One could make the argument that working there would lay the roots for this documentary. In any event, it’s the aforementioned story that would put Cohen on the path to directing Every Body. It’s what led her to the three subjects and the audience learning that it is possible for trauma and joy to co-exist.
If you don’t know what intersex is, that’s fine. You’ll learn through the course of the film, including all about John Money. Maybe it’ll lead you to become an ally and push for hospitals and states to End Intersex Surgery. Many doctors are having to make what is essentially quick decisions if they think it will be best for the child. Newsflash: it probably won’t. That’s what makes the David Reimer story so interesting. While this is a documentary, you still need to see the film and learn why David Reimer is so important to the intersex movement today.
One last thing: can we talk about the end credits? I think we need to talk about the end credits. More films should do what Every Body does when it comes to the end credits sequence.
Every Body is an important contribution for not only intersex visibility but LGBTQIA documentary film canon as a whole.
DIRECTOR: Julie Cohen
FEATURING: River Gallo, Alicia Roth Weigel, Sean Saifa Wall
Focus Features will release Every Body in theaters on Friday, June 30, 2023. Grade: 4/5
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