Cast  Bios

MANI BRUCE MITCHELL is a Wellington-based intersex activist who describes being a “boy” for the first year of her life, then becoming a “girl” as the doctors “re-diagnosed” her gender identity, and then how this secret was kept from her until s/he discovered the truth accidentally as an adult. As well as being an artist and archivist of an extraordinary collection of family slide images, Mani is dedicated to working with others to publicise the potential traumas associated with childhood genital surgery, and the typical secrecy surrounding such medical conditions and their treatment. Mani has travelled to Australia and the USA with MacDonald’s short film BLACK AND WHITE (2006) featuring Mani Mitchell and Rebecca Swan. In 1996 s/he founded ITANZ, Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand and works as a counsellor and change agent in Wellington.

“I am  Not a Monster” Courtesy of Rebecca Swan

EMA LYON is a Maori woman who identifies as takataapui which is a Maori term embracing all aspects of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex identity. She also identifies as ia which is a word in Te Reo Maori which combines he and she in one word, embracing both the masculine and feminine within one being. Ema is a weaver, performer, business owner and designer who has collaborated with the acclaimed group of Maori and Pacific Island artists “Pacific Sisters”. She lives in Auckland with her partner Monique, and their two sons.

“Ema” Courtesy of Rebecca Swan

JACK BYRNE While living in Wellington, Jack performed in physical theatre group “Roadworks” and was a founding member of the “Drag Kings Comedy Troupe” (before transitioning to live as a man). His current creative projects focus on developing solo and collaborative pieces with partner, photographer Rebecca Swan and fellow transperformer Tom Erge. Jack works at the Human Rights Commission as a Senior Policy Analyst and in 2008 project-managed the Commission's Transgender Inquiry: “To Be Who I Am”. This groundbreaking nation-wide inquiry explores Trans human rights issues.

“Transcend” Courtesy of Rebecca Swan

SHIGEYUKI KIHARA is of Samoan and Japanese descent, working in visual and performance art disciplines. Kihara’s work is based on investigative research relating to the indigenous cultures of the Pacific, specifically to Samoan culture, history and spirituality. Her work has been widely exhibited, and is currently held in numerous national and international galleries and institutions including Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

“Fa’a  fafine Triptych” Image Courtesy of Shigeyuki Kihara





REBECCA SWAN has significant experience and recognition as a visual artist and has exhibited extensively in New Zealand, Australia and England. She has also published her books in nine countries internationally. Rebecca initiated and oversaw all aspects of production and distribution for her book “Assume Nothing” (2004), including multi-media performance events to launch the book in New Zealand and Australia. Over the eight-year production period for “Assume Nothing” Rebecca established and developed intimate relationships of mutual trust and respect with her subjects. In collaborating on this documentary, Rebecca worked closely with the director to help bring this sense of intimacy to the finished film.

Image Courtesy of Rebecca Swan