The nonbinary identity describes people who don’t identify with being either a man or a woman. Other identities include genderqueer, agender, bigender and more. All are similar in that the identifier does not feel like they belong within gender binaries — but each ones has a slightly different meaning.
A common misconception is the idea that nonbinary and transgender fall under the same category. While some transgender people do identify as nonbinary, not all nonbinary people are transgender.
Similarly, many nonbinary people are comfortable with the bodies that they were born with, but some decide to undergo medical procedures to feel more comfortable. Every person who identifies as nonbinary has a different experience that should be respected and understood.
Pronouns can be a cause of debate when discussing the nonbinary community. The most important thing to remember is that every nonbinary person will have different pronoun preferences. Some nonbinary people don’t care which pronouns are used for them — whether it be he/him, she/her or they/them, while others have strong preference for one or the other.
In a society where gender binaries are used daily throughout spoken language, it can be difficult to navigate the best terms when referring to those who identify as nonbinary. Be sure to clarify how a nonbinary individual would like to be addressed. There are many alternatives to common gender-based terms, and you can find a good list of nonbinary terms here.
Nonbinary is gaining more and more recognition throughout Hollywood and social media as more musicians, actors and icons come forward as gender nonconforming.
One of the most iconic people to recently come out as nonbinary is Jonathan Van Ness. He is one of the Fab Five from “Queer Eye,” and the world has fallen in love with Jonathan’s intelligence, kindness and guidance. As a cast member of “Queer Eye,” Van Ness is the grooming expert the world needs. He has gained recognition for his ability to completely change someone’s look and appearance while still representing who they are as a person.
Van Ness came out as nonbinary in an Instagram post last month where he shared, “I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately” with a screenshot of an article featuring him with the title “Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness: ‘I’m Nonbinary’” and a gorgeous picture of him breaking gender stereotypes.
The article was written by Fran Tirado with Out Magazine, and Van Ness shares, “Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I’m here for it. I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to.”
His revelation of not feeling connected to being a man or woman gives people who identify as nonbinary a strong icon they can relate to, one who is loved by thousands all over the world.
Van Ness prefers he/him pronouns but does not identify as a man. He continues to encourage others by saying, “I just want to show people that you can change your circumstances, you can just make your own lane.” There’s no one way to identify, and Van Ness wants others to just be themselves no matter what gender that is.
Another growing icon who identifies as nonbinary is singer/songwriter Tash Sultana. Sultana is an Australian musician who has had growing recognition all over the world for their musical passion. Sultana’s music is inspiring and emotional, and they create incredible lyrics and melodies. Sultana is nonbinary and prefers to use the pronouns they/them.
Rebecca Sugar, creator of “Steven Universe” and artist for “Adventure Time” also identifies as nonbinary. In an interview with NPR, Sugar discusses the importance of queer representation in “Steven Universe” and talks about what it meant to build characters that felt like they represented her experience.
“I am also a non-binary woman, which has been really great to express myself through these characters because it’s very much how I have felt throughout my life.”
Sugar identifies as nonbinary, and she explains that she doesn’t feel like a woman. However, she doesn’t mind going by she/her or they/them pronouns, as she understands that she appears as a woman to society.
Bex Taylor-Klaus is another famous nonbinary icon. Taylor-Klaus prefers they/them pronouns and came out as nonbinary in July of 2018. They have been in many TV shows and films, including “Dumplin,” “Bullet,” “The Killing,” “Arrow” and “House of Lies.” In an interview with Autostraddle, they stated, “At the end of the day it’s more fun to be comfortable. No matter how femininely I’m dressed, I can still bring the masculine, and vise versa.”
Bex wants to break down barriers and show people that they can be masculine and feminine in one person.
There are many icons throughout Hollywood and social media that are challenging the status quo for gender binaries. Hundreds of genderqueer models and icons are gaining recognition across the internet, including TJ, Kassidy Drake, Britenelle Fredericks, Eureka O’Hara and Sab.
Representation in media is important to any gender identity because it conveys understanding and respect. The more representation people have in the media and throughout Hollywood, the more that others are exposed to these identities, which helps those of various gender identities feel more valid in their experience.