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Film / They/Them

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They/Them is a 2020 South Seas Film & Television School production from New Zealand about a troubled teen coming to terms with their nonbinary identity.

Ash is conflicted about their gender. Writing a poem about their womanhood, they think they're just a girl even though being a woman doesn't feel right to them, but neither does being a man. The next morning at school, a transfer student joins their class and asks to be called by her nickname, Charlie, instead of "Charlotte".

After their teacher reviews their poem and tells them she's looking forward to seeing them perform it in class (to their dismay), Ash asks their teacher to refer to them with their chosen name as Charlie had the same option. However, their request is immediately dismissed, and the school bullies aren't going to let Ash see the end of it.


They/Them can be watched on YouTube for free, here.


  • Adults Are Useless: The teachers do virtually nothing when Ash is humiliated by bullies in front of the whole class. The most that a teacher does is tell her students to calm down when Charlie speaks up against Ash's detractors, but this is after much of the abuse against Ash is said and done with.
  • Coming-Out Story: Played with; Ash's classmates acknowledge that they identify as nonbinary, or at least trans, without Ash having to spell it out for them. However, Ash gets bullied to hell and back over it, and they're forcibly outed while reciting a poem about their identity. The culmination of the story is when Ash recites the poem in front of their whole class for real, letting them come out on their own terms this time, thus technically playing this trope straight.
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  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Ash disliked their previous feminine name, and so changed it. As a nonbinary person they also don't want to be called "she" or "her". In both cases, only Ash's lesbian friend follows their wishes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Ash tears up their poem about being a woman, and recites an entirely different poem about being nonbinary. The entire class - even the teacher and Dominique's Girl Posse - erupts in applause, and the teacher crosses out Ash's deadname on the student roster, writing in "Ash".
  • Gender-Blender Name: Discussed; when Ash requests that their teacher refer to them by their chosen name, the teacher points out that Ash is a male name and doesn't suit them (while misgendering them as a girl and deadnaming them). However, Ash replies that it's a gender-neutral name and that it can be used for any gender.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Ash recites a poem about their gender in private, and shortly after, realizes that they were being recorded the whole time. Afterwards, the video is leaked onto social media, with commenters misgendering, deadnaming, and labeling Ash an "attention whore".
  • LGBT Awakening: The story deals with Ash coming to terms with being nonbinary, and struggling to accept themself as such when the world sees them as a girl.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Dominique, the one responsible for the tirade against Ash, is incredibly intolerant of trans people. She regularly deadnames and misgenders Ash, calls them transphobic slurs, tells them they don't belong at their school, and embarrasses Ash in biology class when a teacher fails to mention chromosome variants other than XX and XY (leading to Dominique saying that intersex people don't exist).
  • Transgender: Ash is nonbinary, and the film is about them coming to terms with their gender identity.
  • Trans Tribulations: Ash is going through a gender identity crisis, having to live through being deadnamed and treated like a girl, even at home. Their school life is even worse; they are humiliated in front of their whole class when their teacher turns down their request to be called "Ash". After that, they're physically and verbally bullied for being open about their dysphoria, and a video of them reciting a poem about their gender is leaked to YouTube.
  • "Which Restroom" Dilemma: Referenced in a brief scene where Ash sees signs pointing to men's and women's restrooms, then runs away, distraught. However, the trope itself is not employed, and is instead used to symbolize Ash's internal conflict about their gender.
  • You Are Not Alone: When Ash decides to spend the night at a party, presenting themself as a cis girl, Charlie sits down with them and talks to them about their Trans Tribulations. She relates to their troubles, saying that she's also dealt with people refusing to understand her, or even acknowledge that she's gay. She also adds that there is a term for Ash's gender - nonbinary - and that this is hardly an experience exclusive to them. Ash initially rebuffs Charlie's attempts at comforting them, but she chooses to openly support them at school the next day, and it's implied they're going to be close friends from there on.

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