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AIFF Review: Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You

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Rusty is a marvelous individual with incredible talent, charisma and warmth, and yet one decision in his life dictates how the world sees him. His story is like many that have come out about their sexuality; many friends left him, and his family struggles to accept him. Rusty displays an amazing amount of bravery in expressing herself.
Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You is the story of Rusty, a transgender individual.

The documentary provides an eye-opening experience that humanizes the struggle of transgendered people in America. Rusty lives in her father’s trailer park in New Mexico, in a small town, and works doing maintenance. She’s into cars, working with her hands, motorcycles, builds homes, welds, and generally does all things considered “masculine.” The movie touches on very deep issues regarding the transgender movement, from both the human and the psychological perspective.  

What I particularly liked about the movie, is that it uses Rusty as a focal point, but branches out to a handful of other transgendered individuals and their brief story. A man who transitioned to becoming a woman, after a confirming experience at burning man; an intersexual individual who expresses their identity through art; an asexual individual who identifies not as man or woman, but “goth”; and a dozen others who have found a way to express themselves.

Furthermore, the documentary shares the other side of things. With interviews with psychologists regarding Rusty’s decision and what the research shows those who have had the same feelings and made the same choices  

The story seeks to inject logic and reason into a subject that is very emotionally charged in our current political world. For anyone confused about what the movement means, or where it comes from, or if someone feels alone in the whole process, Why Can’t I Be Me? Around You is a must see. 

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