The list

14 young artists who are changing the way we think of gender

Will millennials be remembered as “the gender-fluid generation?” Quite possibly.

According to GLAAD, 12% of millennials currently identify as genderqueer, transgender, or gender non-conforming. Meanwhile, celebrities like actor Tom Phelan (pictured), model Andreja Pejic, and rapper Angel Haze are stepping up to show the mainstream exactly what those terms mean.

Get yourself connected with 14 young, creative people who are helping to shape the way the world at large will perceive gender and sexuality in generations to come.

Tommy Dorfman

On May 8th, 13 Reasons Why actor Tommy Dorfman breezed into the MTV Movie Awards wearing a boxy plaid skirt-suit and glimmering sequin platform heels, as one is wont to do.

“I’ve had a lot of insecurities about being gay in this industry,” the actor told Out in 2017.

If that’s still the case, he’s certainly not wearing them on his puffy sleeves.

Perfume Genius 

in @ashish_uk for @attitudemag ? photo from @gomezdevillaboa styleé @umarsarwarx

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Mike Hadreas, who performs under the alias Perfume Genius, contains multitudes — and many of those personas are decidedly female. “I write a lot as this woman,” he told Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter in 2015.

“I have a Facebook profile for an older woman that lives in Juneau, and I write as her a lot. She’s really into mystery writers, and she writes these long things about when she met them and stuff. It’s really nonsensical. She’s really into Barbara Kingsolver, and mystery writers…Dennis Franz, from “NYPD Blue”, that’s her favorite actor. And the Rembrandts.”

Kieran Strange

Kieran Strange has been compared to the lovechild of David Bowie, Tony Stark, Ramona Flowers, Hawkeye, and Tank Girl!

A self-professed “voice for the different and discarded,” Strange changed his preferred pronouns from “she” to “he” in the summer of 2016 when publicly adopting a transgender identity.

Rae Spoon

New backup singer, Sushi

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Rae Spoon is a Canadian singer-songwriter who grew up as transgender in Calbary, Alberta. Raised by a paranoid-schizophrenic father in a Pentecostal household, the genre-hopping artist — who has written country, folk, punk, and electro — has preferred the pronoun “they” since 2012, explaining to Now Magazine: 

“After years of fighting to be called ‘he,’ the idea of coming out again made me tired. But now I feel kind of rejuvenated, ready to fight on some more. I think the ‘they’ pronoun is a pretty cool thing. It’s letting a lot of people not have to identify as a man or a woman. Whatever it means to them.”

Tom Phelan

While actor Tom Phelan plays Cole, a transgender male character on ABC’s The Fosters, the actor prefers using “they/them” pronouns and is non-binary.

Related: The World’s First Gender Neutral Undies Won’t Judge The Size Of Your Package, Or If You Have One At All

“I still deal with misgendering and violent language and people being jerks in general,” they told Hollywood Reporter

“But I’ve been much more lucky than Cole in that I have a very supportive family and most of the people I’ve come out to have generally been very accepting and kind. I definitely still deal with struggling with access to medical transition and self-image issues. It’s been much easier than the way Cole has had it just because my family has been so amazing.”

Andreja Pejic


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Australian model Andreja Pejic was initially known as the first totally androgynous supermodel before completing her transition in 2013.

“I don’t believe that the fight for trans rights or African American rights is different from the fight against war, or the fight for refugees,” she told i-D in a video interview.

Related: After Genderqueer Teen Set On Fire For Wearing A Skirt, Classmates Dress In Solidarity

Regarding her decision to transition, she said: “There was definitely a lot of, ‘Oh, you’re going to lose what’s special about you. You’re not going to be interesting anymore. There are loads of pretty girls out there.'”

“It is about showing that this is not just a gimmick.”

Jinkx Monsoon

Loving my new hair by @dennismilambensie / @insidejinkxswig

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Winner of the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jinkx Monsoon goes by “she” and “her” when performing, but prefers “they” and “them” pronouns when out of drag.

In a March 2015 Facebook post, Monsoon said, “I myself do not identify as cis-gingered. I am genderless.”

They expounded upon this in an April 2017 interview with Queerty:

“I’ve never identified as fully male. I’ve always identified as more gender fluid or gender ambiguous, but I never knew the vocabulary to explain it for myself.”

JD Samson 

#tbt DJing at #meowmix in 2002 Photo by @marohagopian

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Musician, producer, DJ, and songwriter JD Samson is a member of both Le Tigre and MEN. While she still more-or-less identifies as a woman, Samson sometimes considers herself part of the trans community, as well.

Talking to Gaynz in 2012, she said: “I think people are confused often about whether I identify as queer, lesbian, transgender, or whether I go by male or female pronouns more than anything.”

“And to be honest, I don’t care much with the way people think of me. More than anything I just want other people not to feel frustrated by my body or my existence. I want nothing less than for people to feel comfortable around my being. And hope that they can find a way to stop trying to categorize me and just know me as a human.”

Eliot Sumner

Auf dicke Hose machen

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Eliot Paulina Sumner (aka Coco) is an English performer who released her first album The Contestant in 2010 with her band I Blame Coco. She also releases solo music under her birth name, Eliot.

The daughter of Sting and actress Trudie Styler, Sumner said in a 2015 interview with The Evening Standard that she doesn’t identify as any gender, only as a musician.

“I don’t believe in any specifications,” she said.

Angel Haze

#MusicIsLife #AngelHaze

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American rapper and singer Angel Haze (Raykeea Wilson) considers herself to be pansexual and agender. The “Echelon (It’s My Way)” singer told The Guardian in 2012 that:

“Love is boundary-less. If you can make me feel, if you can make me laugh – and that’s hard – then I can be with you. I don’t care if you have a vagina or if you’re a hermaphrodite or whatever.”

She doesn’t care if you call her a “he” or a “she”. Just don’t call her a “they,” okay?

“I sound like four people when I get written about as ‘they’,” she told The Evening Standard last year.

“It drives me crazy. 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.”

Jaden Smith

So grown up tho and I kinda liked the dreads #jadensmith #gloup #dreads #hot #hotguys #thegetdown #rose #genderfluid

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“In five years when a kid goes to school wearing a skirt, he won’t get beat up and kids won’t get mad at him.”

That’s Jaden Smith’s goal, anyway. Tabloids have already written reams about the 17-year-old actor’s gender-fluid sense of style, but Smith claims he doesn’t even see what the big deal is, anyway.

“I feel like people are kind of confused about gender norms,” he told filmmaker Baz Luhrmann during an interview for Nylon. “I feel like people don’t really get it.”

“I’m not saying that I get it, I’m just saying that I’ve never seen any distinction.”

Ruby Rose

Ruby Rose has worn many hats in her relatively short career: She’s been a model, DJ, recording artist, MTV VJ, television presenter, and actress.

Best known for her work in Orange is the New Black, Rose came out as gender-fluid in 2014.

She came out as a lesbian when she was 12 and wanted to be a boy when she grew up.

“I am very gender fluid and feel more like I wake up every day sort of gender neutral,” she told News.

In an interview with The Guardian, she further clarified:

I feel like I’m neither, yeah. Well, if I had to choose it would be a boy, a guy. 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….

I think I’m lucky enough to have accepted my body. I’ve done a lot of therapy. I have a lot of trans friends, and I’ve seen them go through the surgeries. I saw the desperation that they had. I remember thinking, “Do I have that? Do I really need to go and put myself through that?” And I thought, No, I don’t. I really sit in a more neutral place, which I’m grateful for as well. I really admire the people that do it, and I think that they’re amazing. I just wish that there was more support for them. Because it’s an elective surgery it costs an arm and a leg — I did a lot of research into it. It’s not a priority, but it should be. It’s such a huge cause of suicide, a huge cause of self-harm. I think at this stage I will stay a woman but … who knows. I’m so comfortable right now I feel wonderful about it, but I also fluctuate a lot.

Eleanor “Elly” Jackson

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Outstandingly coiffed artist Eleanor “Elly” Jackson is best known as the lead singer of La Roux (the electro band behind the still-ubiquitous 2012 hit “Bulletproof”).

The pop star doesn’t adhere to any sort of strict gender identity, saying in 2010:

“I don’t have a sexuality. I don’t feel like I’m female or male. I don’t belong to the gay or straight society, if there is such a thing.

I feel like I’m capable of falling in love with other people.

I’m not saying I’m bisexual, I’m just sexual!”

In a 2014 Guardian profile, she elaborated further on her stance:

“If I say, ‘I’m straight,’ nobody will come around to my house and take a picture of my boyfriend. If I say, ‘I’m gay,’ then somebody will come around and try to take a picture of my girlfriend.

It’s all very well people telling me to be open about it, but it will impact my life.

Why should I have to bear the brunt of what would happen? All I know is that if it’s not something I have any interest or desire to talk about, then that needs to be my only reason.”

Amandla Stenberg

Releasing a music video & single this week…keep those eyes peelt heheeee

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Best known for a star turn in The Hunger Games as Rue, the 18-year-old actress and musician identifies as non-binary and used to identify as bisexual.

Last year, Stenberg told Elle: 

“Bisexual is a word I am not too attached to….”

“It implies a dichotomy that doesn’t take into account trans people. So maybe pansexual is more accurate for me.”

Stenberg is also notably candid when fans ask questions about gender identify:

Did we miss anyone you think should’ve been included in the list?  Sound off in the comments below!