Girls who are boys
Who like boys to be girls
Who do boys like they’re girls
Who do girls like they’re boys
Always should be someone you really love.
This is how the refrain of the popular 1994 song "Girls & Boys" by Blur goes. Because of its provoking lyrics the song was a shocking novelty back then, when the female-male distinction was still a legitimate thing. With the current push for transgender bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings, and the open celebration of “otherness”, the gender deconstruction is becoming a fact. Facebook has offered custom gender identities to include also the options “androgynous” (partly male and partly female in appearance, or of indeterminate sex”) and “gender fluid” (of gender which varies over time). In some US universities, they already accept gender-neutral pronouns. Yes, nowadays people are free to call themselves whatever they like, be it Santa or The-Man-With-the-Iron-Mask, and they are also free to claim a different name for their gender. In Britain, there is even a group of people who have defined their gender as… “attack helicopter”. Don’t ask!
But what about the celebrities who’ve shown notable inconsistency in their gender identification and are presently calling themselves “they” rather than “he” or “she?” Are they doing it because they feel the genuine urge to confront the gender roles society creates, or just because they crave recognition and attention.
Check out these 15 celebs and decide for yourself. And don’t let your eyes mislead you about what you see!
15 Steven Tyler
The lead singer of one of the most influential rock bands of all time is a girl now?! Oh, come on! And yet, it is (partly) true. For the past 46 years, Steven Tyler has been dressing like someone’s Aunt Myrtle– with feathers in his hair, corduroy ensembles, and flowy scarves, and singing about love in elevators and men in drag. In his memoirs, Does the Noise In My Head Bother You? (2011), the musician denies that he feels more female than male, but then he adds, “Let me set the record straight– it’s more half and half, and I love the fact that my feelings are akin to puella eternis (Latin for ‘eternal girl’). What better to be like than the stronger of species?” All facts considered, from present day perspective, the lyrics of Aerosmith’s hit from 1987 Dude (Looks Like a Lady) somehow starts sounding very reasonable!
14 Eddie Izzard
He’s often showed himself in drag, and we kind of got used to seeing him with lipstick and fake eyelashes. Even when he is not wearing female clothing, his nails are painted red. The way the comedian defines himself is “100% boy, plus extra girl.” Actually, he first came out as transgender 31 years ago, and since then he’s been living by a very healthy personal philosophy, according to which no matter how you identify yourself in terms of gender or sexual orientation, or who you choose to be your partner, what truly matters is how you do in life and how you add to human existence. Eddie Izzard tries not to get frustrated over people’s ignorance and hatred when it comes to gender identity. “A lot of people have said nasty things to me, have fought me in the streets… but f**k them!”
That’s the attitude, girl! Or we better say “man”, because presently, Izzard identifies himself mostly as “boyish”, and adds that even when his girly side takes over, he still fancies women.
13 iO Tillett Wright
His name stirred the hornet’s net when rumors started circulating about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard falling out not because of Depp’s combustible temperament, but because of Heard’s relationship with iO Tillett Wright. If you wonder if Heard was cheating on her ex with a guy or a girl while dating Wright, we cannot be much of a help on this one, either. Because… well, it’s complicated! Wright was born in 1985 in New York as a girl, but even as a young child, he rejected gender norms. As a result, he lived for eight years as a boy. As of today, Wright, who is a celebrated author, photographer, and a TV host, still prefers the use of pronouns “he/him”, or none at all. But he also prefers to leave the door a bit ajar, because, as he puts it, “that may change, as it has already changed many times, and I’m good with that.”
12 Lily-Rose Depp
The summery-flowerish beautiful daughter of Johnny Depp and the French actress/singer/model Vanessa Paradis seemed to be leading a normal life of a teenager (well, given her family's heritage of stardom, it was probably only semi-normal) until she was invited to take part in iO Tillett Wright's Self-Evident Truths project in 2014. The project is a photographic document of 10,000 people from all over the USA who wouldn’t identify themselves as 100% straight. In August, 2015, the aspiring young actress came out on Instagram as “non-straight” (which was later changed to “gender fluid”). She was then 16. Her spiritual “father”, iO Tillet Wright, promptly commented on the announcement, “I’m so proud of my baby-girl. She decided to be in the project because she falls somewhere on the vast spectrum, and I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to the family.”
A teen’s whim or a serious commitment to a LGBTQ cause?
We can't help but shrug our shoulders in uncertainty.
11 Ruby Rose
Orange may be the new black (as stated in the title of the popular series in which Ruby Rose stars), but being gender fluid is now the new Hollywood extravaganza! In an interview with Elle, the Australian model talked openly about her gender fluidity. “I’m not a guy, she said, 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. “A reminder: In 2014, Rose announced her engagement to Phoebe Dahl, but it didn’t last long, and the couple split shortly after. Currently, Rose is revisiting a past relationship with the singer Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas. As for the latter, she hasn’t announced her sexuality and gender affiliation. Yet!
10 Miley Cyrus
We may definitely like her as a girl (especially when she shoots videos in which she’s smashing walls in her underwear, or taking long baths at home!), but this former sugary sweet Disney teen star is now a full-blown rebel who’s shaken all the cheesiness off her fragile shoulders. Miley Cyrus is now charming the audience with her daring and even arrogant boyish style and attitude. In July 2016, she told Paper Magazine she wasn’t able to label her sexuality even as a child, and remembered telling her mom she loved girls like she loved boys. Cyrus admitted she’s both sexually and gender fluid: “I don’t relate to being a boy or a girl, and my partner doesn’t have to relate to boy or a girl, either.” Over the past years, she’s been openly dating both boys and girls. Her impressive boyfriend-girlfriend list includes such names like Tyler Posey (her first kiss when she was eight!), Nick Jonas, Liam Hemsworth (wow!), Jared Leto (double wow!), Justin Bieber (who allegedly impregnated her, but it ended with a miscarriage), and Stella Maxwell (who wouldn’t have substituted Bieber with a Victoria’s Secret model?).
9 Angel Haze
The girl’s been a rebel since a very young age. Being raised in the Apostolic Faith, she was appalled by the lifestyle the church was forcing on the congregation– they were not allowed to listen to music, to wear jewelry, to eat certain things, to date… It is then perfectly understandable why Haze is no longer a practicing Christian. However, she is also a non-practicing, full-time girl. Haze identifies herself as "agender" and pansexual. In an interview with Buzzfeed in 2015, the rapper said that in the past years her agenderness had evolved, but that she gets infuriated when she is referred to in the media as “they”. It makes her feel, she says, as if four people are living inside of her. In another interview, this time with Evening Standard from September 2016, Haze made it clear once and for all, “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.”
8 Tilda Swinton
The unconventional androgynous appeal has been one of the Scottish actress' greatest assets when it comes to being offered prize-winning roles. She is naturally attracted to non-binary characters, like the ones in Orlando and Constantine. Aside from being a fiercely talented actress, Tilda Swinton is generally a weird person. She identifies herself as pansexual and polyamorous. For many years now, she has been living in an unusual household in the Scottish Highlands, which includes her twins, and her two male partners: the playwright and artist John Byrne, who is also the father of the twins, and the much younger New Zealand painter Sandro Kropp. Swinton says the two men are “close friends”, and that’s the reason why this ménage à trois arrangement works so well. In multiple interviews, Swinton has stated that for a long time she had been “kind of a boy”, but now, as an adult, “I am probably a woman.”
7 Cara Delevingne
There must have been something contagious about iO Tillett Wright's Self-Evident Truths project because after posing for it, this stunning beauty also revealed she was gender fluid. And ever since she hasn’t stopped posting messages like, “Don’t worry, be happy [heart, heart, heart]. Embrace your weirdness. Stop labelling. Start living.” Which makes us wonder, has she even left fifth grade?! However, we are inclined to believe that (at least sometimes!) she walks in boy’s shoes. In 2014, the British-born supermodel dated Michelle Rodriguez, the actress from Fast And Furious. Then the focus of her affections shifted to another female object, the 33-year-old rockstar Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent. Clark herself refuses to specify which gender identity group she is an affiliate of. All she says is that she doesn’t identify with anything, really.
Of all that I-don’t-know-what-I-am business, we can only conclude it must be really boring nowadays to be young, beautiful and famous.
6 Justin Bond
Born in 1963, Justin Vivian Bond is many things; an author, song writer, performance artist, actor (but only occasionally), drag queen… The New Yorker called him/her “the best cabaret artist of his generation.” In 2007, he/she was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Shortbus. Beside this huge acknowledgement for his talent, he/she’s been granted numerous other awards, including GLAAD, Obie, Bessie, and Ethil. Although Bond is transgender and people expect he/she’d be perceiving herself/himself as exclusively female, he/she refuses to identify herself/himself as strictly male or female. In fact, Bond prefers the title “Mx.” Instead of “Mr.” or “Ms.”, and the pronoun “v” instead of “he/she/they”. In this respect, we figure we may have messed it up a little so far by using the regular pronouns, as we know them, but that’s for the reader’s sake, really. After all, people DO get confused these days with this abundance of unusual and still not fully conceptualized pronouns the non-binary people are using to place themselves on the expanding gender identity spectrum.
5 Elly Jackson
Elly Jackson is a red-headed hurricane of a human being, no doubt about it! And what we know for a fact is that when you get caught in a hurricane, you face a very, very unpleasant experience of being physically violated in some way. And this is exactly how Jackson would treat you, like a hurricane, if you try to categorize her sexuality and gender! Jackson simply doesn’t like labels– end of story. “I don’t feel one thing or the other. I don’t feel man, I don’t feel woman. I probably feel more feminine than masculine, but if people want to hold me up as a gay model, absolutely, I’m proud to be that, but I don’t feel the need to say that I’m gay to do it.” What we make of all her statements in the interviews she’s given so far is that she simply wants to be appreciated for what she does on the stage. And she’s been appreciated! In 2011, the English synth pop act La Roux formed by her and the record producer Langmaid won them a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album.
4 Tom Phelan
We guess it’s much easier for an actor to play a TV character that pretty much corresponds to their own personality than any other random one. Tom Phelan had that luck. In 2015, he debuted on ABC Family’s The Fosters, where his character is a transgender boy, very much pissed off with the authorities who’d put him in foster homes intended for girls. Unlike his character, however, Phelan identifies as non-binary, and prefers the pronoun “they/them/their” when he refers to himself. Themselves, we beg your pardon. With their popularity steadily growing, Phelan feels the power to address a bigger audience when they talk about stuff like being transgender, gender fluid, etc. In an interview for ThePride.com in 2014, they said, “I think that with all the issues [The Fosters] is addressing, the trans people come up as a logical demographic what to address. And with Orange is the New Black, I think we have a growing visibility in the media.”
3 Richard O’Brien
“I am 70% male, 30% female.” This is how the 74-year-old English actor, writer, TV presenter and theater performer identifies himself. Thank God he deposited only 30% to his feminine side, otherwise nobody would have believed he was a girl with an Adam’s apple like his! To most, he is best known as the person behind much-loved movie classics like The Rocky Horror Picture Show— a parody tribute to the sci-fi and horror B movies form the 1930s through early 1970s. In real life, O’Brien is a very eccentric person who’d do anything to get himself entertained. He describes himself as a representative of the third sex, because, as he claims, there is a continuum between male and female, and he himself is somewhere in between. Despite being “in between”, however, O’Brien has managed to have three children with two ex-wives. No matter how he prefers people to call him, he must have been using the full potential of that 70 percent male within himself because in 2013, at 71, he got married for a third time, this time to 35-year-old hottie Sabrina Graf.
2 Rae Spoon
This is going to be a tough one, because Rae Spoon has been observing really close whether people are using the correct pronoun when they write about Rae Spoon. Because Rae Spoon insists on being addressed with “they” used as a singular pronoun. For those of you who are not quite familiar with Rae Spoon, let us enlighten you a bit – they are a very notable figure in the musical circles and among the fans of the electronic-influenced indie rock and folk punk. Born female, they grew up as transgender person in Calgary, Canada, and was living for a decade as a trans man before they showed a preference for the pronoun “they”. The shift was officially announced in an interview for Now Magazine they had together with cartoonist Elisha Lim, another promoter of the gender-neutral pronoun. The artist said that initially they fought for the right to be referred to as “he”, but then, at some point, they got tired of the whole fuss, so they decided to start fighting for something else instead. This time it was for the introduction of this pronoun, which they thought was “a pretty cool thing.”
Ah, people and their problems which never seem to end…
1 Olly Alexander
In 2016, the hugely successful British pop band Years & Years released the best gay music video, probably not only of the year, but ever so far. Here is how the lead singer Olly Alexander explains the motivation behind the video to the track "Desire", “There are a lot of other sexualities and identities that are well deserving of some shiny pop video love.” Besides, you simply can’t get more obvious in being in-between sexes than Olly Alexander himself! The 26-year-old pop icon has pushed the boundaries of non-binary to a completely new level, a level where no such thing as sexuality, or even gender, for that matter, is a relevant issue anymore. He swears that when on-stage, he feels like a magical creature— without a gender, and not even from the human race. So, if Alexander is to identify himself somehow, we take the logical guess that he will go for “magical alien.”