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Normalizing Androgyny Through Film

Androgyny is gradually becoming more present in film. Like pretty much everything, it started in the fashion industry and made its way into Hollywood. Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine, or being neither masculine nor feminine. Having androgynous celebrities represents a growing population of gender fluid people and helps destabilize the gender binary. It’s so important to showcase different gender expressions in media because it normalizes fluidity and encourages self-expression. Exposure leads to acceptance. LGBTQ+ youth that experience more acceptance from the people close to them have much lower rates of mental illness, suicide and homelessness. 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Many are homeless because of a lack of acceptance in their lives. Normalizing androgyny and the Queer community as a whole, will lead to a drop in mental illness, suicide and child homelessness.

The most famous examples of androgynous celebrities are Prince, David Bowie and Tilda Swinton. Prince was outspoken and unabashed in his gender expression, Bowie mixed masc and femme in bold and dramatic ways, while Swinton keeps it more minimalistic. All were ahead of their time. They have helped break down barriers around gender and sexuality and did it at a time that was much more heteronormative. Now we have people like Ezra Miller, Jaden Smith and Ruby Rose taking the stage in skirts and suit jackets.

Ezra Miller, who was in Fantastic Beasts and Justice League, uses he/him/his pronouns and mostly plays male characters. Outside of film, he plays in a fluid rock band called Sons of an Illustrious Father and experiments with gender neutral fashion. In a photoshoot with GQ he donned skirts and dresses, lipstick and stockings and he looked incredible.

Jaden Smith identifies as male. He is known for taking fashion risks like wearing skirts. He encourages boys not to dress as their gender dictates and experiment with how they like to express themselves. At 16, he wore a long skirt and blazer to his prom, accompanied by Amandla Stenberg.


2016 marked the first time someone was nominated for an oscar in both a male and female category. Kelly Mantle was nominated for both supporting actor and supporting actress categories for playing a transgender prostitute in Confessions of a Womanizer. This was an important milestone because it was recognition of a non-binary performer from the academy, which has a long history of controversy.

Gender fluid characters are less common than Trans representations in T.V. and film. Portrayals like Susie Putnam in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina show the struggle and confusion of exploring gender as a teenager and shows a (slightly watered down) version of the abuse many teens face from their peers. In the first season, Susie used she/her pronouns and presented more androgynous. In season two (out on April 5th) Susie becomes Theo and uses he/him pronouns. Hollywood, when not stuck in the gender binary, has focused more on the Trans experience with older films like Boys Don’t Cry (1999) which showed the physical and psychological violence trans folks experience and more recent films like Tangerine (2015) which forced a different perspective through comedy and the use of everyday technology like Iphones and featured Trans women playing the main characters.

Androgyny is still a grey zone because it is defined differently by each person. Writers, directors and producers shy away from fluid characters because gender neutral experiences differ so much from the gender binary. This is why we need more androgynous people writing, acting, directing and producing film. Even in stories about trans folks they are often still defined as man or woman, they are portrayed as identifying as the opposite of their assigned gender and rarely exist in between. Having more fluid people in the film industry will break down binary standards and help create a more flexible perception of gender. Visibility and understanding leads to lower rates of violence and assault which will also have an effect on homeless rates among LGBTQ+ teens.

This is an uphill battle. Non-conforming public figures still receive criticism and outright hatred for their gender identities and getting their stories on the big screen is an ongoing struggle. In the meantime, here are some fluid celebrities that deserve your love and support!

Amandla Stenberg- They/them/theirs

Ellen Page- She/her/hers

Lena Waithe- She/her/hers

Eddie Izzard- He/him/his

Rae Spoon- They/them/theirs


Tess Ware

C Mich '21

Hi, my name is Tess and I’m a double major in Journalism and Women and Gender studies at Central Michigan University. Planning to become a media writer after I graduate. I want to empower people through my writing and hope to someday write a book on the intersection of Feminism and Paganism. I’m a huge crafter, I love knitting and altering clothes I find at thrift stores. I listen to a lot of audiobooks in my free time. I’m really excited to be co-campus correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for HerCampus-CMich and continue to develop my voice, writing and leadership skills.
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