Julie Cohen on Every Body and the intersex experience | Interview

by W. Andrew Powell

The trailer for Julie Cohen’s Every Body had a lot of people talking immediately.

“People are reaching out to me directly on my DMs on Twitter and Instagram,” Cohen said. “There are people out there and they are eager for the intersex experience to be represented on camera.”

Focusing on three intersex activists–Sean Saifa Wall, River Gallo and Alicia Roth Weigel–Every Body looks at how intersex people have been treated over the years, and how they’re working to change those outdated and harmful prejudices.

Cohen started work on the film a few years ago, and the film developed from the story of David Reimer, who was interviewed by NBC’s Dateline in 1999.

“I realized pretty early that it couldn’t just be the David Reimer, Dr. Money story. That’s kind of what took this film so long from the time it was first a seed of a thing, which was five years ago now until coming out because I was like, ‘The story is so amazing. It feels so, so relevant to our conversation about gender today.'”

“And yet I don’t think we could make a film just about that story because it’s so, so depressing that no one would want to see it. Also, it would be really hard to do because everyone who’s involved in it is no longer living.”

“I watched the field tapes from that interview. There’s a lot that’s in the film that wasn’t in the original Dateline story, and you see David Reimer explaining that the whole reason that he’s talking is that he’s concerned about how his case has been misinterpreted and used to justify medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children.”

“He literally said that in his interview 25 years ago, and to hear those words from him after his death… that led me to look to the modern intersex rights movement. And that led me to the three amazing people that became the central figures of the film.”

Cohen spoke to me about the interview with Wall, Gallo, and Weigel, the hope for the future, and how she worked to provide a safe space. Watch the full interview with her above.

Every Body is in theatres now.

Sean Saifa Wall, River Gallo and Alicia Roth Weigel from Every Body
Sean Saifa Wall, River Gallo and Alicia Roth Weigel from Every Body

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