Alok Vaid-Menon is a writer, performance artist, community organizer, and Stanford graduate based in New York City. They are the co-founder of the Dark Matter poetry and social activist collective, are affiliated with the Audre Lorde Project, and have worked with MTV and StyleLikeU.
“I want every person questioning their gender out there to know that you are enough,” Vaid-Menon says. “There is no one way to be a boy, a girl, or even transgender – there are as many genders as there are people on this planet.”
Australian model and Orange Is the New Black star Ruby Rose talked about her gender fluidity in an interview with Elle. She said, “For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which – in my perfect imagination – is like having the best of both sexes.”
In the interview, she praised Caitlyn Jenner for her public transition, along with the shows and media outlets that give a voice and a humanity to people who don’t identify as gender normative.
Yes, believe it or not, part of “just being Miley” apparently includes being non-gender-conforming. In an interview with Paper Magazine, Cyrus said, “I don’t relate to being a boy or a girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to being a boy or a girl.”
Though she still seems comfortable with she/her pronouns, Cyrus has been experimenting with gender ambiguous presentation for awhile now. She made headlines in June when she appeared at an amFAR event with agender model and poet Tyler Ford as her date, and used the event as an opportunity to raise awareness about non-binary gender identities.
A member of the lesbian synthpop groups Le Tigre and MEN, JD Samson was assigned female at birth and prefers female pronouns. A desire to let her inner dudeness shine through, however, led her to begin taking male hormones in the ’90s, resulting in a more chiseled visage and a luxuriant growth of facial hair.
Samson has stated in interviews that she sees herself as “post-gender,” and considers the male/female gender binary to be obsolete. Her personal trademarks are her roguishly bushy eyebrows and alluring, porn-chic mustache.
Assigned male at birth, Kate Bornstein spent almost 40 years living as a man before discovering her true gender identity and physically transitioning in 1986. She’s an author, performer, playwright, artist, and advocate for LGBTQ rights currently living in New York.
Though she prefers female pronouns, Bornstein said in her autobiography, A Queer and Pleasant Danger, “I don’t call myself a woman, and I know I’m not a man.” Her books Gender Outlaw and My Gender Workbook both define gender as a spectrum and explore the absurdities of traditional gender roles in society.
A founding member of the seminal industrial bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, British musician and performance artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has appeared in the Guinness Book of World Recordsfor most albums released in a single year, founded a tongue-in-cheek “cult” called Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth, and has been declared a “wrecker of civilization” by British Parliament.
For over 10 years, P-Orridge engaged in an ongoing body modification project with Their (now tragically deceased) partner, Lady Jaye Breyer, called the Pandrogyne Project, meant to challenge gender roles, conventional beauty standards, and ideas about romantic relationships through a series of identical plastic surgeries.
P-Orridge prefers the pronouns S/he, He/r, or Them.
Pejic started out in fashion as an “androgynous” male model known for modeling both men’s and women’s fashion by high profile designers like Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier. Pejic has described herself as “living in-between genders,” and feeling comfortable with either male or female pronouns.
Sofia Coppola announced Pejic will appear in Coppola’s upcoming film The Little Mermaid, and Pejic followed up the announcement by informing press that she had recently completed a surgical transition and henceforth prefers to be referred to using exclusively female pronouns.
Aside from being pansexual, polyamorous, and a generally weird person, Swinton’s public presentation is pretty decidedly androgynous. She also gravitates toward non-binary characters, e.g. her roles in Orlando and Constantine.
In interviews, Swinton has stated, “I don’t know if I could ever really say that I was a girl – I was kind of a boy for a long time. I don’t know, who knows? It changes.” She concedes, however, as an adult, I am probably a woman.”
A fixture of New York avant garde cabaret for over two decads, Justin Vivian Bond is a musician, drag queen, occasional actor, and performance artist. Bond appeared in Imaginary Heroes and John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus, and in 2007, was nominated for a Tony Award.
Bond does not identify as strictly male or female, preferring the prefix “Mx.” instead of Ms./Mr., and the pronoun “v,” instead of he/she/they.
With a penchant for upswept hairstyles and big-shouldered suit jackets, Elly Jackson is one half of British electropop duo La Roux.
In an interview with Gay Star News earlier this year, Jackson stated, ” I don’t feel like I’m female or male,” and expressed irritation with people trying to pigeonhole her sexuality and gender.
Tom Phelan debuted in 2015 on ABC Family’s The Fosters, a series about kids grappling with the aggravating realities of the foster care system. Phelan’s character on the series is a male transgendered kid, annoyed and upset when indifferent authorities place him in a foster home intended for girls only.
In real life, Phelan identifies as non-binary, and prefers the singular pronoun “they.”
Best known as the writer, lyricist, and composer behind the beloved midnight movie classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which a 1950s version of Earth is invaded by sexually aggressive, lingerie-wearing transsexuals, Richard O’Brien is responsible for a rich body of work that irreverently deconstructs gender roles, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
O’Brien often dresses in women’s clothes and jewelry and believes that gender is a continuum. “Some are hard-wired one way or another, I’m in-between.” He identifies himself as “70% male, 30% female.”
Canadian author and singer-songwriter Rae Spoon lived for several years as a transgendered man before going public with a campaign to promote the singular pronoun “they” instead, alongside non-binary cartoonist Elisha Lim. More recently, Spoon is the author, with Ivan Coyote, of the short story collection Gender Failure.
In an interview with Now Magazine, Spoon said, ” I think the ‘they’ pronoun is a pretty cool thing. It’s letting a lot of people not have to identify as a man or a woman. Whatever it means to them.”