What is gender? Gender is the way one categorizes themself as male, female, or otherwise (agender, genderqueer, etc), and it is a part of one's identity that may stand apart from and is not necessarily determined by their biological sex. It's a topic that has long been unexplored in mainstream media, but it's now part of a much larger cultural discussion. And of course, our favorite public figures are having their say in this ongoing conversation as well. Some celebrities are now fighting gender norms and questioning the idea of what it means to be a man or a woman.
We live in a world where Target is moving beyond gendered toys for boys and girls. Gender neutral public bathrooms are becoming a reality for some spaces. Transgender women Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox are fashion icons, magazine cover models, and stars of top TV shows. It is undeniable that celebrities who have spoken up about either being transgender or about gender fluidity have helped increase visibility and bring the issue to the forefront.
Here is a roundup of some of the biggest names who are fighting back against gender norms and the harmful stereotypes that accompany them. Prepare to feel inspired!
1. Miley Cyrus
The pop star started the Happy Hippie Foundation, which supports homeless and LGBT youth, and started the social media campaign #InstaPride to share stories from members from LGBT community. Cyrus has talked about being gender-fluid, saying that it has nothing to do with any physical parts of her body. "I'm just equal," she said in an interview with Time. "I'm just even. It has nothing to do with any parts of me or how I dress or how I look. It's literally just how I feel." Cyrus has no problem with telling us exactly how she feels. And we're all the better off for it.
2. Ruby Rose
The Aussie model gained mainstream attention when she started appearing on Orange Is The New Black this year. The tattooed actress who often dresses in a gender non-conforming style used her newfound platform to speak on her own gender fluidity in the U.K.'s Guardian. "I feel like I'm neither, yeah," she said. "I feel like I'm a boy, but I don't feel like I should've been born with different parts of my body or anything like that. I feel like it's just all in how I dress and how I talk and how I look and feel, and that makes me happy."
3. Jaden Smith
When Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's son began publicly wearing dresses this spring, the Internet went wild with speculation. Keeping in line with true Jaden style, the 17-year-old did not lose his famous amount of chill. Just about the only comment he had to make was this Twitter statement: "That Moment When Your Wearing A Dress With No Pants And You Swerve Way To Hard." And hey, in the midst of his newfound wardrobe he got himself a date with Amandla Stenberg to prom, so he must be doing something right!
4. Lady Gaga
Mother Monster is no stranger to getting down in drag. For her music video for her single "You and I, she dressed up as her cigarette-smoking, leather-jacket wearing male alter-ego Jo Calderone, and did not shy away from making out with herself while in costume. She performed at the 2011 VMAs in that same costume — and even hit on Britney Spears while in character. As Gaga herself would say in her song "Born This Way," Don't be a drag, just be a queen!
5. Caitlyn Jenner
In her groundbreaking reality series, I Am Cait, the former Olympian embarks on a journey of self-discovery as a trans woman and debunks stereotypes about what a woman should do and what a woman should be every step of the way. As Jenner herself put it, while appearing on Good Morning America, after winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS, she said, "We're all different. It's not a bad thing. It's a good thing."
6. Laverne Cox
The actress and fierce LGBT advocate has not only used her presence to put trans issues on the map, she has also shut down interviewers that try to make gender and transition conversations all about surgery and physical body parts. For example, when Katie Couric asked her about surgeries, Cox said in response, "I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences." Hear, hear!
Images: Getty Images