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Article written by Maya Vukovska

LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ +, crossdressing, genderless, transman, transwoman, gender-fluid, gender-bender, butch femme, drag king, FTM, MTF, queer, genderqueer… With so many intersex labels overwhelming our everyday interaction with people it’s inevitable that we stop questioning who has what between their legs. People are people no matter if they claim their pronoun is “he”, “she”, “it”, “they”, or “ve/vem/vir”. For years, in fiction literature and movies, people with gender characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies were portrayed as monsters or medical dilemmas. What is more, non-binary characters haven’t always been written using language that is always sensitive to the real experience of genderqueer people.

And here they come -  our top six fictional depictions of non-binary gender characters in movies and cartoons.

Mr. Garrison in South Park (1997- )

Throughout  the first eight seasons the teacher Mr. Herbert Garrison, known also as Janet Garrison throughout was a man. Then, he had a two-year stint as a woman, but only to transition back to malehood. He has had intimate relationships  with both men and women, which makes the viewers consider him not gay, but rather pansexual. Beside his complex sexuality, Mr. Garrison also suffers from many psychological disorders. His multiply identity disorder, for example, makes him go around holding a puppet, which he calls Mr. Hat.  What is more, Mr. Garrison is an incompetent teacher, and a racist. All in all, not the most likeable person in the neighborhood!

All in Zoolander 2 (2016)

The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art graduate and outstanding actor Benedict Cumberbatch is definitely creepy in the role of the famous androgyne supermodel All in the Zoolander sequel. His character was subject to a large adverse reaction, and was being described as “an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery  of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals,” and also 'the modern equivalent of blackface'. 

'Are you like a male model or a female model?' Stiller's Derek Zoolander asks All. 

'All is All', replies Cumberbatch, and shakes his long wig. 

But we actually didn’t care what the sullen critics had to say about All, because we loved the otherwise puritan-looking Brit having gone through such an exquisite vampire-like makeover. Also Susan Boyle made an appearance in the movie, but nobody said anything about that! When they should have!

Orlando in Orlando (1992)

There have been movies, such as Kinky Boots and Dallas Buyers Club, where there’s a character who is ambiguously somewhere between drag queen and a trans woman. The reason  is not because the writers wanted to write about gender queer people that much, but because they didn’t do their homework. But that is not the case with Orlando.The movie is an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same title. The book, on its part, has for inspiration the author’s girlfriend Vita Sackville-West, who liked to dress in drag in her youth years, and who would most probably identified herself as non-binary if she lived today.  In the movie, Orlando (played by the brilliant Oscar-nominated Tilda Swindon) is a woman/man of ideal nobility, who embarks on a spiritual journey to find out the truth about life, love, and one’s sex in the late 16th century.

Stewie Griffin in Family Guy (1998 - )

Millions of fans of the cult series Family Guy out there love Stewart "Stewie" Gilligan Griffin, the eccentric one-year-old infant  of Peter and Lois. On the one side, Stewie is the perfect kid. Why? Simple - he was born an old person, and doesn’t do the normal, yet irritating kids stuff. He is well-spoken and has an advanced vocabulary. But beside that, he is also extremely violent, has a masochistic  personality, and… ambiguous sexual orientation. The series creator Seth McFarlane says his sexuality has been left non-binary on purpose. He may seem male at first, but we can’t miss the fact that he definitely likes dressing in woman’s clothes. Being a toddler, Stewie has been given the freedom to explore his options and decide what he really likes. Remember the episode where he fooled Brian into thinking  he was a girl, and comes on to him. And when he entered the Little Miss Texas pageant, he actually won it. He then told Brian he felt right in his female disguise.

Taylor Mason in Billions (2016 - )

Everybody was so impressed with Asia Kate Dillon’s performance as the gender non-binary character Taylor Mason in the drama series Billions, that she almost got an Emmy nomination. Why almost? Well, the network, Showtime, wasn’t quite sure how to submit Dillon’s nomination - for best actor or best actress. Like her character, Dillon, too, uses the pronouns “they”. In the series, Taylor is the razor-sharp intern at Axe Capital. We may consider Taylor to be the first major genderqueer personage on American TV series. And what we can learn from them is that you don’t have to be hyper masculine or competitive in order to be successful in the money business.  Or any business, for that matter.

Roger in American Dad (2005 - )

OK, we know how you’d react to that - Roger is a space alien who looks like a male! True, but we’ve never actually been told what Roger’s gender is. And wether he has a gender at all! What we do know for sure is that Roger is sarcastic, alcoholic, amoral, and… likes dressing in drags. For fun, we guess. The alien’s most famous alter egos are Laura Vanderbooben and Jeannie Gold, the wedding planner and a former Argentine prostitute.  He becomes Laura every time he wants to provoke sexual harassment at work, and eventually, squeeze some money out of the company.

In a memorable episode, Roger and Stan get drunk. Roger rips Stan’s shirt off, and licks his chest, and Stan licks his feet. They both get arrested for public indecency.

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