Gender-Queer Media Representation

For those unfamiliar with the term, the gender-queer community includes anyone who does not identify as male or female, but rather as another gender entirely, such as agender/genderless, nonbinary, intersex, genderfluid, etc. They are generally considered to fall under the transgender umbrella.

Just like individuals of any gender identity, gender-queer people choose the pronouns that they feel suit them best. Their pronouns could be gendered pronouns, like she/her or he/him, or gender neutral, like they/them. There are also neopronouns such as xe/xem/xyr or ey/em/eir, that are gender-neutral pronouns created for those who do not feel the pronoun options available are applicable. Any combination of pronouns can be used based on what someone decides suits them best. For example, I’m agender and use a combination of she/they pronouns, which means anyone referring to me can use they/them and she/her pronouns as well as “female” or gender-neutral honorifics (Mx., Ms., etc.).

Below I have compiled below a guide to some of the media titles we have here at IU Bloomington that have canonically gender-queer characters whose identities are acknowledged on screen.

TV Series

Good Omens (2019)
Pollution, they/them & Crowley, he/him

L: Promotional Image of Lourdes Faberes as Pollution. Digital Image. LGBTQ Characters Wiki. https://lgbtqia-characters.fandom.com/wiki/Pollution 
R: Screenshot of David Tennant as Crowley. Digital Image. http://www.david-tennant.co.uk/2018/05/david-tennant-talks-good-omens-crowley.html

Neil Gaiman, one of the authors of the book that the TV series Good Omens is based on, has confirmed that all the angelic and demonic characters are nonbinary. In the TV series, this is mainly shown through the recurring character Pollution and a main character Crowley, who are both acknowledged as nonbinary within the context of the series3. Pollution uses they/them pronouns as well as the he/him honorific Sir2. Crowley uses he/him pronouns, and has a fluid gender presentation across the series, meaning that the gender he chooses to present himself as changes depending on how he is feeling at that particular time.

The Good Place (2016-2020): Janet, she/her

Screencap of D’Arcy Beth Carden as Janet. Digital Image. Wired. https://www.wired.com/story/the-good-place-janet-optimistic-ai

Janet, one of the main characters in The Good Place, identifies as genderless/agender and uses she/her pronouns2,3. Janet’s identity is frequently acknowledged on-screen, generally when she corrects those who misgender her by mistake. The most common occurrence of this during the series is when she reminds other characters that she does not use any gendered terms to refer to herself (e.g. “woman”, “girl”, etc.), and that she identifies as genderless, a fact that is not negated by her use of she/her pronouns.

Star Trek Discovery (2020): Adira Tal, they/them

Though they don’t come out until the third season, Star Trek: Discovery has a nonbinary character, Adira Tal, who is played by nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio2. The character Adira and the actor del Barrio use they/them pronouns. Photo credit: Screencap of Blu del Barrio as Adira Tal. Digital Image. ScreenRant. https://screenrant.com/star-trek-discovery-adira-admiral-tal-trill-twist/

Feature Films

The Kings of Summer (2013): Biaggio, he/him

Main character Biaggio in the film Kings of Summer tells his friends during a scene in the woods that he doesn’t see himself as necessarily having a gender. Biaggio doesn’t use the agender/genderless label explicitly, but he does express feelings that coincide with a gender-queer identity. Photo credit: Screencap of Moises Arias as Biaggio. Digital Image. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2PCqEuSpLE

John Wick 3 (2019): The Adjudicator, they/them

Screencap of Asia Kate Dillon as The Adjudicator. Digital Image. Villains Wiki. https://villains.fandom.com/wiki/The_Adjudicator

The third John Wick film has side character The Adjudicator who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. The Adjudicator is played by actor Asia Kate Dillon who is nonbinary as well and also uses they/them pronouns. Dillon has also portrayed several other gender-queer characters in media including Val(entina) Romanyszyn on the animated show Gen:Lock who is gender-fluid and changes their pronouns and name depending on their current gender presentation, and Taylor Mason on the TV series Billions who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns3.

XXY (2007): Alex, she/her

Screencap of Ines Efron as Alex (right). Digital Image. Wikipedia. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/XXY_(film)

The main character of the film XXY is a teenager named Alex who is intersex and uses she/her pronouns1. The film focuses on Alex’s experience with questioning her gender identity before the surgery her parents scheduled to have her “male” sex organs removed6.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001): Hedwig, she/her

Screencap of John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig. Digital Image. FrameRated. https://www.framerated.co.uk/hedwig-angry-inch-2001/

Hedwig, the titular character of the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, identifies as genderqueer and uses she/her pronouns1,2,3. The film takes place after her botched gender change surgery that didn’t fully remove her “male” sex organs, hence the “Angry Inch” in the title7. Her actor John Cameron Mitchell, who also doubles as the writer/director of the film, described Hedwig in an interview as “more than a woman or a man. She’s a gender of one”7, as Hedwig considers herself to be beyond gender.

Video Games

Borderlands 3 (2019): FL4K, they/them

FL4K is a player character in Borderlands 3 who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns2. Their character design shows them with a pin on their gear with “no” symbol (🚫) in the colors of the nonbinary pride flag8. The pin can be seen right above the bright green pin on FL4K’s jacket collar. FL4K is an AI, but the creators don’t ascribe that to FL4K’s gender identity as FL4K is fully sentient and chose to identify as nonbinary because that is what felt right to them8. Photo credit: : FL4K’s Nonbinary Pin. Digital Image. Twitter. https://twitter.com/flailmorpho_/status/1173692242638209024

IU Resources About Gender

The LGBTQ+ Culture Center at IU has a house on campus for in-person discussions, programs, etc. Through the house they have a library, which is comprised of films and books related to the LGBTQ+ community. In addition, they have compiled a list on their website of resources at the local, state-wide, national, and international level, as well as resources they’ve created regarding education and support for a wide variety of LGBTQ+ matters, including gender identities.

Culture Center: https://lgbtq.indiana.edu/

Resources Compilation: https://lgbtq.indiana.edu/resources/index.html

Sources

1“Other-Gender Representation in Film.” iMBD. 19 Jun., 2012. https://www.imdb.com/list/ls009788538/

2”Nonbinary Gender in Fiction.” Nonbinary Wiki. https://nonbinary.wiki/wiki/Nonbinary_gender_in_fiction#Movies

3 “List of Fictional Non-Binary Characters.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_non-binary_characters

4Kenny, Lisa. “A Short(ish) Guide to Pronouns and Honorifics.” LinkedIn. 26 Jan., 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/shortish-guide-pronouns-honorifics-lisa-kenney

5Gaiman, Neil [@neilhimself]. Twitter. 14 Jul., 2019. https://twitter.com/neilhimself/status/1150428978475409408

6”XXY (2007).” iMBD. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995829/?ref_=ttls_li_tt

7Ouzounian, Richard. “John Cameron Mitchell to Host Hedwig and The Angry Inch Sing-Along in Toronto.” Toronto Star. 18 Jun., 2014. https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2014/06/18/singalong_hedwig_and_the_angry_inch_comes_to_lgbt_film_fest.html

8Stevenson, Leo. “Gearbox Confirms that FL4K is the Franchise;s First Non-Binary Character.” PowerUp Gaming. 15 Aug., 2019. https://powerup-gaming.com/2019/08/15/gearbox-confirms-that-fl4k-is-the-franchises-first-non-binary-character/

Student blogger Cas Regan (she/they) is a Junior at IU in the Earth Science B.S. program with minors in Chemistry and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In addition to classes and working for Media Services, they are also the VP of the Beekeeping Club at IU and spend their free time caring for the club’s hives at IU’s Hilltop Gardens.