'Soy Álex' tells the story of a young Spanish transgender man through candid vlogs about testosterone, dating, mastectomies and more.
On a terrace in Barcelona, Alejandro P.E. takes a break from vlogging about his fitness progress, new tattoos, and subscriber milestones to commemorate the second anniversary of using testosterone. With his voice at a stage whisper—so as not to startle his neighbors—Álex speaks about the marginality and discomfort he felt in his feminine body, and the enormous relief of seeing himself in the way he had always imagined. "I can really say," he confesses to the camera in rapid Spanish, "that I have started to love myself."
Álex's unflinching candor is just one of the many reasons filmmakers Joss Manz and Itzuri Sánchez knew he would make the ideal protagonist for their documentary, Soy Álex (I'm Álex). Their short, Spanish-language film, which is in need of funding to get past post-production and into film festivals, is a reaction to what they see as an overly pessimistic trend in trans narratives. "Being trans is portrayed as a morbid topic with many taboos," Manz and Sánchez explain to Creators. "We wanted to avoid this and to represent being trans in a different way, with a more positive message."
This is why, like Álex's uploads, Soy Álex is less focused on the hardships of being trans than it is on the day-to-day lessons in and triumphs of realizing one's identity. "People can relate to a guy that shares his gym routine on Instagram or records himself with his girlfriend on YouTube, regardless of whether he is trans or not," the directors say. "We believe that by showing Álex's daily life as a young man, [the film] changes the way being transgender is perceived by the audience."
Seeing this narrative through Álex's own storytelling, through his YouTube and Instagram chronicles, is integral to the film's objective. Manz and Sánchez disparage the way that trans stories have been co-opted by the media as "clickbait topics." "Trans youth now have the capacity to show their own reality [through social media] and to embrace it with more confidence than ever, knowing that they will find others experimenting with the same things."