In Their Own Words: Stars on Their Gender Identities

Halsey, Elliot Page, Amandla Stenberg and more stars open up about their gender identities 

01 of 10

Jonathan Van Ness: Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming

Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

"The older I get, the more I think that I'm non-binary. I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman.

"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.

"I just am either like gender-bendy or nonconform-y or non-binary and somedays I feel like a boy and somedays I feel like a girl. I didn't think I was allowed to be nonconforming or genderqueer or non-binary — I was just always like 'a gay man' because that's just the label I thought I had to be."

— to Out Magazine in 2019

02 of 10

Halsey: Undefined

Halsey
Halsey. Jason Kempin/Getty

"I've been thinking lots about my [pregnant] body. It's strange to watch yourself change so quickly. I thought pregnancy would give me very strong, binary feelings about 'womanhood' but truly it has leveled my perception of gender entirely.

"My sensitivity to my body has made me hyper aware of my humanness and that's all. Doing a remarkable thing. And it's grand. I hope the feeling lasts."

— after updating their pronouns on social media earlier in 2021

03 of 10

Elliot Page: Transgender

Elliot Page
Elliot Page. Rich Polk/Getty

"I had a lot of time on my own to really focus on things that I think, in so many ways, unconsciously, I was avoiding. … I was finally able to embrace being transgender, and letting myself fully become who I am."

to TIME, on the pandemic isolation giving way to revelations that he is trans

04 of 10

Mj Rodriguez: Transgender

MJ Rodriguez
MJ Rodriguez. Jamie McCarthy/Getty

"There was a physical identity of what people perceived as 'boy,' but that's not how I was feeling inside. The people that I worked with, they saw that when I got onstage and actually got to live in the clothing that I wanted to be in."

— on realizing her identity while starring in RENT, to Cosmopolitan

05 of 10

Demi Lovato: Non-Binary

demi Lovato
Demi Lovato. Rich Fury/Getty

"Growing up in Dallas, Texas, in the South, being Christian, there was a lot of norms that were already pushed onto me when it came to sexuality and gender.

"If I looked back at my life, there have been times where I felt more masculine, and then there has been times where I felt more feminine.

"If I had listened to the patriarchy, my life would've never changed, my gender, my pronouns would have never changed. I would have probably been married to a man, with kids, doing the thing that I was raised to believe that I should do."

— on Jane Fonda's podcast Fire Drill Fridays

06 of 10

Sam Smith: Non-Binary

Sam Smith
Sam Smith. Karwai Tang/WireImage

"When I hit 14, 15, I started to really question my gender and started to really want to express myself. Makeup for me was the way to do that. It doesn't matter whatever gender you are, you know, it's a form of expression and it feels nice.

"[Lady] Gaga is probably the reason why I actually came to terms with my gender. I was 15 when The Fame came out, and I was obsessed with Lady Gaga. She gave me complete permission to be myself and to be proud of my queerness. It was a form of expression, but it was also weirdly a form of protection. It was a way of almost saying to the homophobes and the bullies, 'Stay away from me,' a little bit. Because I'm confident."

– to Vogue during a skincare and makeup tutorial

07 of 10

Asia Kate Dillon: Non-Binary

Asia Kate Dillon
Noam Galai/Getty

"I came into clarity around my gender identity after coming into contact with the character I play on [Billions]. Taylor Mason, via the character breakdown which said, 'female, non-binary.' Up until that time I had only seen 'non-binary' described as 'neither male nor female.' I was socialized to understand that 'male' and 'female' were to be used synonymously with 'man' and 'woman' and so, I didn't know how I could not be a woman without changing my body. I didn't know I could be trans and not change my body.

"Reading the character breakdown for Taylor, it was certainly not the first time I [had] seen the word 'female' and it wasn't the first time I had seen the word 'non-binary.' However, it was the first time I had seen the two words next to each other in a way where it supposed that the words related to two different things; where it supposed that 'non-binary' wasn't referring to assigned sex. Upon looking both words up I had an aha moment where for the first time it all came together in my mind: I was assigned sex: 'female' at birth; I have visible, 'typically female' biological sex characteristics. But, my gender identity is non-binary; neither man nor woman."

— on coming to realize their gender identity while playing Taylor on Billions, on Instagram

08 of 10

Amandla Stenberg: Non-Binary

Amandla Stenberg
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

"[Gender] can be pretty much whatever you want it to be.

"I tend to believe that gender as we've set it up in current-day society doesn't actually exist. 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.

"I don't necessarily always subscribe to female pronouns just because I don't think that pronouns are necessarily very meaningful."

— to PEOPLE

09 of 10

Lachlan Watson: Non-Binary

Lachlan Watson
Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

"People think of gender as a finite and objective thing that starts here and it ends here, that you go from one place to another and it's not that. For me, it just keeps going, it's a continuing line.

"My gender identity does not relate to my sexual orientation, even remotely. I identify as both non-binary and pansexual which are two very fancy ways of saying, 'I don't care' [laughs]. I see through you into your soul, like, 'Do you understand me as a person? Can you give me what I need as a person, as a soul?' That's what's important to me."

— on Netflix's What I Wish You Knew: About Being Nonbinary

10 of 10

Josie Totah: Transgender

Josie Totah
Frazer Harrison/Getty

"[W]hen my friends and family call me Josie, it feels like I'm being seen. It's something everyone wants, to feel understood. And, as a semi-religious person who went to Catholic school, I have come to believe that God made me transgender. I don't feel like I was put in the wrong body. I don't feel like there was a mistake made. I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences. It allows me to gain perspective, to be more accepting of others, because I know what it feels like to know you're not like everyone else."

— in TIME

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