On season 2 of Billions, Asia Kate Dillon (whose uses they/them pronouns) was introduced as Taylor Mason, an intern at Axe Capital

By Sophie T. Stern
October 03, 2018 02:28 PM
Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Asia Kate Dillon has won raves for their performance on Showtime’s Billions, becoming American TV’s first non-binary character played by a non-binary actor.

On season 2 of Billions, Dillon (whose uses they/them pronouns) was introduced as Taylor Mason, an intern at Axe Capital who quickly becomes Bobby Axelrod’s (Damian Lewis) protégé. And in an Instagram post Wednesday, they discussed how the role shaped their own identity.

“I came into clarity around my gender identity after coming into contact with the character I play on @sho_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,'” wrote Dillon, 33. “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 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,” they added. “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.”

Dillon also discussed their experience in a separate post Tuesday.

“Prior to Taylor on @sho_billions the only trans people I knew, even those who identified as non-binary, had either taken some medical step to physically transition their sex characteristics or changed their gender expression to fit within the expected gender expression of the sex opposite the one they were assigned at birth,” they explained. “I thought that was part of what you had to do in order to claim a non-binary identity, a trans identity, and I didn’t understand how I fit.”

Steve Granitz/WireImage

Dillon wrote that realizing they could “still be non-binary” without medically transitioning was “ultimate freedom.”

Dillon concludes their post with an important reminder: “Don’t forget, you don’t know someone’s gender identity just by looking at them, whether they have medically transitioned or not.”

Clearly, Dillon’s performance has resonated with viewers: They earned Critic’s Choice nomination for Billions.

In 2017, Dillon wrote a letter questioning the Emmys’ use of gendered acting awards. Later that year, they presented MTV’s first gender-neutral acting award. (Emma Watson won for her portrayal of Belle in Beauty and the Beast.)

RELATED: Emma Watson Celebrates MTV for Genderless Acting Categories: ‘Empathy Should Have No Limit’

This July, Khloé Kardashian praised Dillon’s work on Billions, unintentionally using the wrong prefix for the Orange is the New Black actor. Dillon used the opportunity to educate, explaining that they use “Mx.” (pronounced Mix) instead of Ms. or Mr.

Khloé later apologized, and said she’ll “be waiting by my TV until season 4.”

Season 4 of Showtime’s Billions is set to be released in 2019.

Next year, Dillon will also appear in John Wick: Chapter 3, playing “The Adjudicator.”