Beyond The Binary

By Alex Mancini

Beyond the Binary is a photo and interview series that was born from the general lack of awareness and understanding surrounding the gender nonconforming community, combined with my desire to explore evolving pieces of my own identity. But while very personal and close to my heart, this project is not about me. Since 2016 I have been meeting with people individually and capturing authentic portraits of them in their own chosen spaces. The in-depth interviews focus on who each person is and their experiences fitting into the world. It began in Massachusetts, but has been slowly expanding with the goal of interviewing folks all across the United States. 

Beyond the Binary is a direct view into people’s lives and amplifies their own words to allow for authentic representation and empowerment. This project has many goals: to highlight those who are rarely given a platform to share their stories, to serve as a resource for community members, and to reshape a narrative in society that says we have all been enlightened simply because progressive milestones such as marriage equality have been reached. For many of the folks who’ve participated in my project, it’s the first time they’ve felt truly seen. By allowing them control over how the photos and interviews are created, exhibiting the work publicly, and making the project easily accessible for online viewing, I hope to continue pushing against this false narrative. It is crucial to center real people with real stories in the narratives we choose to amplify. 

Now more than ever before, online community and access is tantamount to our collective survival. My entire project has always been available online, and always will be. There are so many in our community who are isolated, who use the online world to find connection, and in these times of social distancing, that need for online community has extended to all of us. I hope that this project can be a beacon for those seeking comfort in seeing themselves in others, in knowing they are not alone.

Editor’s note: The project can be viewed in its entirety at www.alexmancini.net/beyondthebinary

 “But what does passing for a non-binary person look like? I don’t have an answer for that.  I do know that I am enough.” Read the rest of Sunny’s interview here.

“There’s a lot of assumption with identity and what you pass as and what you don’t, and what that means. What spaces you’re allowed in, even if it ​is ​your space, if you ​look​ like you belong in the space.” Read the rest of Aaron-Emiliano’s interview here.

“Whether it’s fighting for queer rights, fighting for the trans bill, fighting for gender nonconforming people to be able to use the bathroom – I want to see that in our generation.” Read the rest of Ellie’s interview here.

 “I remember being a kid and not identifying as a girl, and being uncomfortable with being identified as a girl, but not feeling that sort of tug to being a boy either.” Read the rest of Aspen’s interview here.

“The clothing that I wear is more about keeping me alive and happy than it is about saying something about my identity.” Read the rest of Brian’s interview here.

 “There’s always an assumption about non-binary people looking a certain way, and I think that people expect non-binary people to often look masculine in a lot of ways, which I don’t understand.” Read the rest of Finn’s interview here.

Photo Credit: Alex Mancini.

Alex Mancini

Alex Mancini is a photographer and multidisciplinary artist specializing in creative portraiture, based near Boston, MA. Her editorial background can be seen in the story-driven, narrative nature of her work. Her most recent work examines gender, expression, and meaning in the context of how we experience our own identities and how others perceive us. Her focus is on representation of the many aspects that make up an individual, with the goal of making viewers consider their own ideas, biases, and identities, and how those are shaped by society. She knows that the more we can upend the expectations and assumptions that the world has of us, the more of an impact we can have.