5 people who are redefining gender

The role of gender has never been more front-of-mind than it is today, whether we’re challenging the long held beliefs about what gender is, or not letting ourselves be defined by gender expectations. Over a third of Gen-Z have a non-binary friend, some are genderfluid, and some are still exploring gender identities, which means that better understanding gender is becoming more and more important to our everyday lives.

We’ve searched for some of the most inspirational people, who are not only redefining gender stereotypes, but are also leading the way when it comes to breaking down barriers to acceptance.

Illustrations by Anshika Khullar @aorists

Munroe Bergdorf

As a model and activist, Munroe has gone above and beyond to provide solid representation for the trans community in the media. Through her modelling career she was able to break down the stereotype that ‘trans women are not real women’ by becoming the face of some of the biggest brands in the world, appearing on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week and featured in Vogue magazine.

Not only is she redefining the strict and outdated version of beauty set out by the fashion industry, but she is also very outspoken and has taken on the likes of Piers Morgan regarding trans issues. Most recently, she founded the Goddess Platform which sets out to ‘[celebrate, empower and amplify global voices of womxn and non-binary and intersex people]’(https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxc5bCplFaD/).

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Angelina Jolie

Back in 2010, Angelina was one of the first celebrities to speak openly about letting one of her children explore their gender from a young age. While the media went into a frenzy over an image of her child Shiloh dressed in a suit and with short hair, Jolie spoke candidly in an interview with Vanity Fair and simply explained, ‘she likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers.’

Instead of pandering to the views of the mainstream media, Jolie threw her weight behind letting people know that it was ok for children to explore their identity, and that includes gender. Since then, a number of well known figures, including the likes of Adele and Russell Brand, have used their platform and spoken up about raising their children gender-neutrally.

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Harnaam Kaur

Body positivity and social activist Harnaam Kaur has campaigned to change the rigid perceptions of what it meant to be a woman. Harnaam’s Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis at age 12 meant that she started to develop large amounts of facial hair. After years of trying to conform to the beauty standards set out for women, Harnaam decided to push self-doubt aside and embrace her body hair. Once she accepted herself as she was, she began setting Guinness World Records, appearing on the cover of magazines, and using her platform to speak up on these issues close to her heart. Harnaam proves that real women can have beards and that no one can put boundaries on what makes you a ‘real woman.’

If you want to see more from Harnaam check out Rewired:Ditch the Razor where we dig into the stigma around female body hair.

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Alok Vaid Menon

As well as being a poet and performance artist, Alok is also a trans rights activist. Alok identifies as gender non-conforming, which means they reject the male/female binary. They regularly speak out on issues such as feminism, beauty standards and race and a lot of their poetry focuses on trans issues. Alok says "When we define things, we contain them. I am in a constant state of transformation. It depends a lot on who I'm with, where I'm at in my life and what I'm doing." They prove that it’s ok to for your identity to keep evolving, and that includes your gender.

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Kevin Abstract

As one of the founding members of rap collective Brockhampton, Kevin Abstract continues to break down toxic stereotypes of manhood each day, especially within the hip hop community, which has been perceived by some to be synonymous with toxic hyper-masculinity over the years. Kevin came out as gay in 2016 and has been open about his sexuality in his music. His unapologetic attitude toward being himself goes to prove that there is no one way to be a man within the hip-hop community or, in fact, the wider world. He has said in the past that people like him 'have to exist in this homophobic space in order to make change' and by not pandering to the conventions of what makes a 'real man' he really shows that gender can't be limited to a set of archaic and harmful traits.

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