As the media embraces more representation, and the concept of gender is more widely and accurately discussed, more and more people are now comfortable revealing their true selves. And you know that old saying about celebrities: they’re just like us! As the times change, so do celebrities who are no longer afraid of breaking out of a mold society set for them. This includes non-binary celebrities who never identified with any mold in the first place.
GLAAD states that the term “non-binary” is “used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.” These individuals “may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms.” The site adds, “The term is not a synonym for transgender … and should only be used if someone self-identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer.” And while the pronouns they/them are mostly associated with non-binary individuals, there are those who more closely identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, so pronouns vary depending on the individual’s preference.
In hopes of shattering the heteronormative and binaried gender mold once and for all, here are some celebrities who identify as non-binary.
Courtney Stodden won't let bullying define who they are
Once a tabloid staple during their shocking marriage to 50-something actor Doug Hutchinson, media personality and model Courtney Stodden has found themself in headlines again for two completely different reasons. In an emotional Instagram post shared in April 2020, the former “Celebrity Big Brother U.K.” star announced they were non-binary and preferred “they/them/theirs” pronouns.
“I don’t Identify as she or her. I’ve never felt like I ever fit in anywhere. I was bullied horribly in school because I was different,” Stodden wrote. “The other girls never understood me. It got so bad that my mom pulled me out of school. And still, i don’t fit in. I never really connected with anyone my age. My spirit is fluid with a kaleidoscope of color. #bekind #beopen #loveyourself.”
As far as bullying goes, Stodden revealed the emotional abuse they suffered at the hands of fellow stars when the former teen bride was just 16 years old. “She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take ‘a dirt nap’ but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself. Things like, ‘I can’t wait for you to die,'” they told the Daily Beast about Twitter queen Chrissy Teigen. “… People came out of the woodwork to beat up on a kid because she was in a situation that she shouldn’t have been in. There were a lot of celebrities acting like playground bullies. Some of the worst treatment I got was from women.”
Thankfully, Teigen has since apologized, and Stodden has continued to proudly live their truth.
Ruby Rose sits 'in a neutral place'
Australian actor Ruby Rose burst onto the scene as the androgynous Stella Carlin on “Orange Is the New Black,” and has since appeared in countless movies and TV shows, and has also graced several magazine covers. During a 2015 interview with News.com.au, the “Batwoman” alum came out as gender neutral. “I am very gender fluid and feel more like I wake up every day sort of gender neutral,” she said. “I cop a fair bit of flack for going from ‘such a babe to such a boy.'”
Previously speaking to The Guardian in 2014, Rose stated that she “used to pray to God that” she wouldn’t get breasts, but has since accepted her body. “I’ve done a lot of therapy. I have a lot of trans friends, and I’ve seen them go through the surgeries. I saw the desperation that they had,” the star explained. “I remember thinking, ‘Do I have that? Do I really need to go and put myself through that?’ And I thought, ‘No, I don’t.’ I really sit in a more neutral place, which I’m grateful for as well.”
And although she doesn’t identify as male or female, Rose prefers she/her pronouns. “I feel like I’m a boy, but I don’t feel like I should’ve been born with different parts of my body,” the screen star told The Guardian. “I feel like it’s just all in how I dress and how I talk and how I look and feel, and that makes me happy.”
Jonathan Van Ness learned to shed his label
Jonathan Van Ness made audiences fall in love with his heart and flair on the Netflix hit, “Queer Eye,” where he wasn’t shy about his identity. During a 2019 interview with Out, the hairstylist revealed that he was non-binary, and although he doesn’t identify as a man, he prefers he/him pronouns.
“The older I get, the more I think that I’m nonbinary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman,” Van Ness stated. “I don’t really — I think my energies are really all over the place. 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.”
When asked about his public femme persona, Van Ness explained that all his heroes are women. “I feel like my feminine identity is what makes me the strongest. All the people that I look up to the most, that I want to emulate the most are like 90% women,” the reality TV star said. “The people who shaped me the most was my mom, my grandma — it’s Gloria, Celine, Aretha, Shania, Mariah.” Van Ness added, “I didn’t think I was allowed to be nonconforming or genderqueer or nonbinary — I was just always like ‘a gay man’ because that’s just the label I thought I had to be.”
Lachlan Watson went on a journey to define themself
Lachlan Watson rose to fame playing a transgender teenager in the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” where they became one of the youngest openly non-binary actors in Hollywood (via Seventeen). During a 2020 interview with Vogue, it was revealed that Watson went on a journey to find their identity, before realizing they were non-binary.
Watson credits their immersion into Raleigh, North Carolina’s theater scene at a young age in helping to find their identity. “I had these incredible lesbian role models, these cis, gay men who were just living their lives,” they told Elite Daily in 2019. “I knew I wasn’t the default, so I just assumed I was a lesbian. But I knew that wasn’t right.” The Netflix star added, “I was never allowed the space to be in a gray area, because I lived in a world of labels.”
They then identified as a trans man, but quickly realized they were labeling themself. “Something felt wrong — I was imagining having a more masculine body and it was making me even more dysphoric,” Watson explained. “I didn’t want to grow a beard or lower my voice. I wanted to look totally androgynous.” The actor refused to take testosterone, but opted for top surgery instead, noting, “I used my power to trust my instincts to be myself. Your shell does not define you — it’s not who you are.”
Asia Kate Dillon played the first non-binary character on television
During a 2017 interview with Refinery29, “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon revealed they felt non-binary before knowing the term and what it meant. They shed the she/her labels and simply wanted to be referred to by their name. Then it clicked. “I did some research into non-binary, and I just thought ‘Oh my gosh,’ like, ‘that’s me…that’s who I am,'” Dillon said. “It’s interesting how labels can really box us in, but they can also be very freeing, because they can help someone identify and put a word to something that they couldn’t put words to before.”
So, playing the first non-binary character on television — Taylor on “Billions” — was not only ground-breaking, but a miracle for Dillon. “The best word I can use I think is that it felt right,” they explained of first reading the role. “Certainly it was a coincidence that this role for a non-binary character came my way, but the significance of it was certainly not lost on me. It felt very much like a congruence that was allowing this sort of miraculous thing to happen even though, as I said, it was coincidence.”
Dillon hopes that through the arts they can help young people struggling with their identity, noting, “The media can infiltrate places where there may not be any visibility yet… just being able to identify with something outside of yourself, I think — I know — can save lives.”
Demi Lovato: Non-binary 'best represents the fluidity' they feel
In conjunction with their podcast, “4D with Demi Lovato,” singer and actor Demi Lovato announced on Instagram that they identify as non-binary and prefer they/them pronouns.
“Over the past year and a half, I’ve been doing some healing and self-reflective work, and through this work, I’ve had the revelation that I identify as non-binary,” Lovato said in the video uploaded on May 19, 2021. “With that said, I’ll officially be changing my pronouns to they/them. I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering.”
In the clip’s caption, Lovato stated in part, “We are given another opportunity and chance to be who we want and wish to be.” Noting that they don’t “claim to be an expert or a spokesperson,” the multi-talent revealed that they made the decision to share the news in order to help those who are struggling to come out. “I’m doing this for those out there that haven’t been able to share who they truly are with their loved ones,” Lovato wrote.
Angel Haze doesn't consider herself a gender but 'an experience'
Rapper and singer Angel Haze identifies as agender and claims no gender identity. However, the “Battle Cry” hitmaker doesn’t really care about pronouns. “I sound like four people when I get written about as ‘they.’ It drives me crazy,” Haze told the Evening Standard in 2016. “Sometimes I want to be a d**k and say: ‘Call me they,’ just to see how seriously people take me. But they do take me seriously so it’s not that much fun. If you call me ‘him’ or ‘her’ it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t consider myself of any sex. I consider myself an experience.”
During a 2015 interview with BuzzFeed, Haze stated that the idea of non-binary people is becoming more accepted. “I feel like my agenderness and my gender identity have evolved. I spent a lot of time, in my earlier years of limelight, suppressing myself,” Haze said. “It’s normal that people can feel like they’re two things trapped in one body.”
As far as relationships go, Haze is only interested in one thing — an emotional connection, regardless of the other person’s gender. “Love is boundary-less,” Haze explained to The Guardian back in 2012. “If you can make me feel, if you can make me laugh — and that’s hard — then I can be with you.”
Sam Smith faced backlash after identifying as non-binary
While being interviewed by “The Good Place” actor Jameela Jamil in 2019, Sam Smith revealed that they identify as non-binary. “I’ve always had a little bit of a war going within my body and my mind,” Smith said (via BBC News). “… I’m not male or female, I think I flow somewhere in between. It’s all on the spectrum.”
A few months later, the “Stay With Me” singer changed their pronouns to they/them. “After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” they wrote in the now-deleted Instagram post (via People). “I’m so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I’ve been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f**k it!”
What should have been a happy occasion for Smith unfortunately turned sour when they received backlash. Noting the “courage” it took to come out, they later told CBS This Morning, “I wasn’t prepared for the amount of ridicule. And bullying, really, that I’ve experienced. I mean, honestly, the comments and the types of things that I have to answer and walk through every day is very, very intense.”
Amandla Stenberg 'doesn't always subscribe to female pronouns'
Six years after shooting to fame as Rue in “The Hunger Games,” Amandla Stenberg came out as gay during a 2018 interview with Wonderland. “I was so overcome with this profound sense of relief when I realized that I’m gay — not bi, not pan, but gay — with a romantic love for women,” she said. “All of the things that felt so internally contrary to my truest self were rectified as I unravelled a long web of denial and self deprivation.”
Stenberg had previously revealed in a 2016 Tumblr post that she identifies as non-binary, but as she’s explained in subsequent interviews, the use of pronouns aren’t that important to her. “I tend to believe that gender as we’ve set it up in current-day society doesn’t actually exist,” she told People in 2017. “I’ve said before that I’m comfortable with using the pronouns ‘they’ or ‘them’ alongside ‘she’ and ‘her’ just because that’s a conversation that’s important to me.” The actor added, “I don’t necessarily always subscribe to female pronouns just because I don’t think that pronouns are necessarily very meaningful.”
Speaking to The Washington Post in 2018, Stenberg revealed that fans edited her Wikipedia page to add they/them pronouns, but she explained that she “didn’t need those pronouns to feel comfortable,” adding, “It felt almost detrimental to those who really did need them.”
Nico Tortorella uses they/them to feel 'more inclusive'
During a YouTube makeover session with drag legend Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor, Nico Tortorella opened up publicly about their gender identity. “This isn’t actually anything I’ve really talked about on a public level quite yet, but I just pretty recently have come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m not fully cisgender,” they revealed. “What does that mean? … The vocabulary for that is so wide right now, [and] it’s like picking which word fits best. I’m not quite at that stage yet, but I don’t feel one way or the other.”
During a 2019 interview with ABC News, Tortorella revealed their pronouns, but understands how hard it might be for some people to adjust. “It’s still a work in progress for everyone. I still mess up sometimes, too,” the “Younger” star said. “For me, ‘they/them’ fully encompasses all of it that exists in my own multi-dimensional dynamic being. Right? It just feels more inclusive. It feels wider.”
Tortorella is also married to non-binary and bisexual activist Bethany C. Meyers, and the pair share a polyamorous relationship. Explaining to Attitude that they are a “serial monogamist” in their polygamy, Tortorella said, “I’m married, yes, but I love dating one person at a time. I have a partner in LA that I’ve had for a long time, but I’m not his only partner; he’s not my only partner.”
Shakina Nayfack says she knew she was non-binary before the term existed
In 2020, Shakina Nayfack became the first trans actor to star in a network comedy series, NBC’s “Connecting.” When asked by Out what she felt her presence on the show would mean to audiences, Nayfack said she hoped “they can see a bit of themselves or their friends in us” and that “they can feel their own experiences of the trials and triumphs of 2020 are valid from watching us.”
Nayfack later took to Instagram in May 2021 to announce that she was non-binary. “I always felt ‘nonbinary’ was implicit in my identity,” she wrote in part in the post, which featured the non-binary flag. “I’ve personally understood the prefix ‘trans’ to mean ‘beyond’ more than ‘from one to another,’ as in TRANScending gender.” She added that she “claimed the term ‘gender non-conforming'” before the term non-binary was “common language.”
However, finally being able to use the term was part of the actor’s journey. “For a long time I felt defensive about the non-binary label, because in my mind, choosing to identify with that terminology meant I was stating that the inverse was also true, that a binary exists and I’m just setting myself apart from it,” Nayfack continued. The “Transparent” star ended by writing that her pronouns are still she/her, but they/them also “works … if that’s what the discourse requires.”
Sara Ramirez is set to play a non-binary character on a massively popular series
Seven years after her character, Dr. Callie Torres, came out as bisexual on the hit television show, “Grey’s Anatomy,” Sara Ramirez did the same. Speaking at the 40 to None Summit to benefit LGBTQ+ homelessness in 2018, Ramirez revealed that she identified as bisexual and queer. “And, because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides,” she said in the powerful speech (via LGBTQ Nation). “I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard.”
Ramirez told People that same year that she struggled with whether to come out publicly, but after the 2016 shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, she made the decision. Then, on August, 27, 2020, the “Madam Secretary” star came out as non-binary on Instagram. “New profile pic. In me is the capacity to be Girlish boy, Boyish girl, Boyish boy, Girlish girl, All, Neither,” Ramirez captioned the photo, adding the hashtag, “#nonbinary.” The actor also updated her pronouns to she/they in her bio.
In 2021, it was announced that Ramirez would be joining the “Sex and the City” HBO revival, “And Just Like That,” playing a non-binary character named Che Diaz. “Che is a big presence with a big heart whose outrageous sense of humor and progressive, human overview of gender roles has made them and their podcast very popular,” the character description reads (via People).
Brigette Lundy-Paine 'feels right' after coming out as non-binary
“Atypical” star Brigette Lundy-Paine discussed their sexuality during a 2018 interview with Vulture after being asked about their character, Casey, and what they see for her development in the series. “I hope they take next season to give Casey a chance to explore her sexuality and coming into adulthood,” they said. “I’m queer, and I feel that for a lot of queer youth, there’s not a lot of nuanced examples of queerness on TV when it comes to teenagers.”
Adding that most television shows and movies skip right to the “coming out story” without showing what happens prior, Lundy-Paine explained, “We have such an opportunity with Casey to be really gentle with that story and to give the characters a chance to figure it out and flail.”
In a now-deleted Instagram post shared in November 2019, Lundy-Paine came out as non-binary and stated their preferred pronouns. “I’m non-binary, always felt a lil bit boy, lil bit girl, lil bit neither, using they/them as of late [and] it feels right,” they wrote (via Them). “Scary af to come out [and] been [really] putting this off. But I feel I owe it to myself and to all of us who struggle [with] gender.”
Introducing Lio Tipton
“Crazy, Stupid, Love” star and “America’s Next Top Model” alum Lio Tipton is best known for their various TV and movie roles, as well as for placing third in Cycle 11 of Tyra Banks’ modeling competition series back in 2008. However, during a 2017 interview with the Daily Beast, Tipton stated that their modeling career didn’t last long, because they never felt comfortable. “I tried modeling, but I really didn’t enjoy it,” Tipton told the publication. “I showed up to most of my shows in Birkenstocks and T shirts, and it just wasn’t my world. I was never graceful in modeling.”
Tipton later came out as queer and non-binary in a June 2021 Instagram post. “Hi. My name is Lio. My pronouns are they/them. I am proud to announce I am queer and I identify as non binary,” they captioned the post, where they revealed their name change. “I hope to give as much love and support back to those who continue to show love and support for the Pride community at large.”
Later, Tipton posted an Instagram Story expressing gratitude for the support from their fans. “You guys are amazing,” they wrote (via People). “Thank you.”
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