Arcade Fire 'We Exist': Andrew Garfield plays trans woman in new video

The video sees the British actor playing a young person grappling with their identity

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The Independent Culture

Arcade Fire have released a new music video for their song "We Exist", which sees British actor Andrew Garfield dressing in drag as he takes on the role of a young person struggling with their gender identity.

The band posted a 20-second teaser two weeks ago before unveiling the full six-minute version yesterday.

The video starts off with The Amazing Spider-Man star looking tearfully into a mirror before shaving off his hair, putting on women’s clothes and make-up and donning a blonde wig.

Garfield then goes to a bar and dances with one of the men, which all seems pleasant enough, but there is an underlying tension as to whether the man will realise that his dancing partner is not biologically female.

Our worst fears are confirmed when Garfield’s character gets into a brawl and is pushed around by several men, in scenes reminiscent to Boys Don’t Cry. The film is based on the tragic true story of Brandon Teena, who was raped and murdered by a group of men after being discovered to be transgender.

Luckily, the "We Exist" video takes a positive turn as Garfield’s character falls to the floor and into a dream-like sequence, performing a Flashdance­-esque dance through the now empty bar.

The video gets even more surreal as four burly men, one with a moustache and beard, attired in hot pants, heels and short skirts serve as backing dancers.

The music video concludes with Garfield taking to the stage with Arcade Fire at a music festival. His character is now wearing a flowing white dress and pink eye make-up and resembles an ethereal being.   

The video was filmed live during Arcade Fire’s performance of "We Exist" at the Coachella Festival in California back in April.

The song is from the indie rock group’s new album Reflektor and is about a gay son coming out to his father, according to Arcade Fire’s frontman Win Butler.

Arcade Fire’s new music video could not have come at a better time as LGBT issues have hit the headlines, following Eurovision victory for Austria’s drag act, Conchita Wurst, last week.


Wurst, real name Tom Neuwirst, was subjected to transphobic abuse during this year’s Eurovision contest.

She was branded a “pervert” by Russian politician Vitaly Milonov, while Vladimir Zhirinovsky, another MP from the country, said that Wurst’s victory signalled “the end of Europe.”

Read more: Conchita Wurst 'bearded women and men' parade banned
Austria's Conchita Wurst hits back at transphobic criticism
Conchita Wurst: A great ambassador for gender diversity

The Austrian singer, who won hearts across Europe with the Bond-like ballad "Rise Like a Phoenix", hit back at critics, saying “I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention!’

“If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it. I'm just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard,” she added in an interview with the Associated Press.

There is still an ongoing backlash in Russia against the outcome of this year's Eurovision winner, with some men reportedly shaving their beards in protest and officials calling for the nation to leave the contest and stage a "straight" equivalent.

Both Wurst’s success and Arcade Fire’s video for "We Exist" send a powerful message in solidarity to the LGBT community and are likely to rile detractors.