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Amandla Stenberg Opens Up About Her Gender Identity

The 17-year-old, Hunger Games actor Amandla Stenberg has come out as non-binary.

Stenberg – who plays Rue in the adventure film franchise – says she feels like she’s not a ‘woman’ all the time, and non-binary is a term that she feels comfortable using to describe herself. (She is using female pronouns).

Writing on Tumblr, she said she is organizing a workshop on feminism, specifically how ‘mainstream feminist movements have continuously excluded women who are not white, thin, cisgender, able-bodied and neurotypical’.

Something we are struggling with is understanding the intersection of feminism and gender identity…

We’re both people who don’t feel like “women” all the time – but we claim feminism as our movement.

Basically, we’re trying to understand the duality of being a non-binary person and a feminist. How do you claim a movement for women when you don’t always feel like one?”

http://amandla.tumblr.com/post/136866720678/so-i-took-over-the-teen-vogue-snapchat-today

She heard from a variety of experiences, with one who said they feel the oppression of a gendered society even if they do not necessarily identify as a woman.

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Even if you don’t feel 100% “female”, even if you never did feel 100% “female”, the world begins treating you as “female” from a very young age and that is always, no matter how you end up defining yourself, going to have shaped your life experience,’ one fan said.

Earlier this year, Stenberg came out as bisexual.

As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman I’ve been through it, and it hurts, and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable…but then I realized because of Solange and Ava DuVernay and Willow and all the black girls watching this right now, that there’s absolutely nothing to change.”

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23 Comments

  1. emmy (@constantvigils)

    March 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    Wonderful article – but the writer should be aware that there is no such thing as ‘female pronouns’. There are countless non binary people who use he & she pronouns. No set of pronouns belongs to one gender – and labelling them as such can be damaging to the non binary community.

  2. rizz

    March 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    it’s better to say ‘she/her’ pronouns instead of gendering them! many folks like amandla don’t always feel female or may never feel female, but still use she/her!

    amandla is such a wonderful young activist, she really helps inspire me and other feminists who aren’t the majority represented (white, cis, straight, able bodied, neurotypical etc) and it’s great that our vices are being heard.

  3. Mix Margaret D. Jones

    March 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    About Mx, with Miss, Mrs, Mr, Ms, and the singular they

    http://www.mixmargaret.com/about-mx-with-miss-mrs-mr-ms-and-the-singular-they.html

  4. Fig

    March 20, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    Listing pronouns is far more inclusive! People who do not identify as female can and do use she/her/hers pronouns.

  5. saffiyah ahmad

    March 21, 2016 at 2:45 am

    What is a woman? What is ”feeling like a woman”?

    These are just dumb identity politics that waste everyone’s time but more importantly, they are also essentialist and regressive. There’s no way to feel like a woman, being a woman is just the reality of having a female body. By saying she’s not one, she’s saying women have established personalities and traits, and not fitting into these restrictive norms means one isn’t a proper woman. I weep for the people who are so ignorant and blind that they think this is progress.

  6. Female All The Time

    March 21, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Sigh… kids these days. “Oppression of a gender based society”? Give me a break. There are certainly more oppressive things in this world than our male-female society.

  7. Jugglernaut

    March 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    So explain transpeople?

    • saffiyah ahmad

      March 21, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Why? Everything I wrote is pretty simple and true. If you can’t figure it out it’s not my problem.

  8. Jugglernaut

    March 21, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Oh boy. Here come the oppression olympics diehards.
    In a world, where only the absolute most oppressed person is allowed to complain… there will always be someone saying “someone else probably has it worse, so shut up!”

  9. Heartwitch

    March 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Agree. Gender is asymptotic: You can do your best to perform what you think ‘being a woman’ or ‘being a man’ is, but they are social constructs, oppressive ones, and it’s physically and socially impossible for someone to match some social ideal perfectly. All of us are both shaped by the gender we were assigned, and nonbinary at heart.

  10. ajnaw

    March 21, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Intersectional feminism that advocates for equality without erasing voices of people of color is the only feminism I personally want to get behind. And I think that examining other intersections, such as gender identity, is incredibly important as well. With that said, I don’t think that being non-binary and a feminist are or should be seen as a duality!

    For more of an explanation:

    http://mediamindfully.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-response-to-kitschmix-article-on.html

  11. T

    March 21, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    I don’t *feel* like a woman either, I never *feel* like a woman. I just am one. There is no way to *feel* like a woman any more than we can *feel* human or *feel* like an adult or *feel* like whatever race we are etc. People are getting gender roles grossly confused with their sex. Trying to say there is a way to *feel* woman is essentialist, limiting, and no different than trying to say women need to dress a certain way to be women. You can be female and not feel like you fit the gender role ‘woman’ that western society has constructed and tries to force on you. You can still claim femaleness because femaleness does NOT equal western gender concept of ‘woman’.

    Why are we so obsessed with what our feelings are telling us anyway. Sometimes that is not a good thing. Get out of our own internal worlds and realize these are just labels with hugely constructed meanings that fall apart upon closer scrutiny. I think we all would benefit from learning a little more about critical theory before we all fall into these huge existential traps because we don’t *feel* a certain way. There’s no such thing, it’s all in your head. Just be yourself and stop worrying so much about your gender (which is, once again, an entirely human constructed concept.) It’s seriously ridiculous watching everyone having this crisis of self over something so unimportant, and entirely tragic that our young people are getting so mixed up in this nonsense.

  12. Sally Bowles

    March 22, 2016 at 3:48 am

    There’s no such thing as a “female body”; the harmful grouping of organs as “male” and “female” body parts actively contributes to oppression against women.
    Stop demonizing trans kids, you creep.

  13. henry

    March 22, 2016 at 5:13 am

    honestly tho. and i identify myself as a trans man. im a transgender male not because i ~feel~ like a boy, but because i experience discomfort with my biological sex and wish to transition to a male body. i get really upset when cis people say theyre trans because they dont ~feel~ like their biological sex. you cant feel gender/sex. its not an emotion or something. amandla coming out as “non-binary” because she doesnt feel like i woman is completely misogynistic. women are not a type.

  14. deaconbrodie

    March 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I agree that the “don’t/feel like a woman/man” phrasing isn’t ideal and is liable to be misunderstood, but I think it’s important to recognise that people who use it aren’t necessarily saying “I’m trans because I don’t fulfil a conventional gender stereotype.” They might indeed be identifying discomfort with body and biology, recognising dysphoria. “Feel” doesn’t just mean vague emotion, it can indicate “experience, undergo”, you know, like “feel pain”. I think it’s better to create a climate in which people who are questioning their gender identity can be open about it than one in which identities are monitored by gatekeepers. To be personal about it, it would really have helped me, when I was a teenager and expressing my experience of intense hostility to my body precisely as “I don’t feel like a woman”, “I don’t feel I am a woman” to know that it might be possible to get a sympathetic and open hearing for that, rather than the immediate response being “you’re just brainwashed by the patriarchy into discomfort with your body!” “gender is just a construct!” (it is, but constructs are actual if intangible things, they really exist and shape our lives), “everyone’s non-binary!” “you’re an essentialist!” It would really have helped me to be able to approach a therapist, a support group &c. without worrying that I wasn’t “trans enough”, that my dysphoria and depression weren’t severe enough, that I should try to resist that so-called essentialism. I lost years of my life that way. So cut Amandla a bit of slack, for pete’s sake: we don’t know what’s actually going on there and the freedom to explore and self-define is really important. It’s important for cis people too; and helps us all to de-normatize (is that a word?) cis identity.

  15. deaconbrodie

    March 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    With respect, “I never *feel* like a woman, I just am one” is possibly the most succinct definition of a cis person’s experience of gender that I can imagine. That’s exactly the certainty that trans people don’t have.

  16. cas

    March 23, 2016 at 5:07 am

    some of the comments on this article are so transphobic that it actually makes it hard for me to breathe 🙂 y’all are giving a 17 yr old kid shit for not explaining her life experience “correctly”. like have you maybe considered she had a hard time explaining her gender because she’s still figuring it out? not to mention, she’s most likely trying to put it into terms cis people can understand and be sympathetic towards- she’s a celebrity, she has to watch what she says. i’m agender transmasculine, and i’ve been guilty of calling myself ‘a boy in a girl’s body’ just because i didn’t feel like giving a crash course on gender to a bunch of asshole cis people. quit policing how young, questioning trans people describe themselves, for fuck’s sake.
    also, @ all the transphobic cis “feminists” in the comments: your opinions are worthless and your need to define womanhood by the presence of certain genitalia is creepy 🙂 down with cis

  17. Vanessa

    March 23, 2016 at 5:10 am

    So what do you call humans (or members of any other sexually dimorphic species) of the sex that produces non-motile gametes? Surely there must be a word to describe them.

  18. MsWigglz

    March 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    So I agree with you that gender is a construct, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t severely shape people’s lives, or that people are forced to conform to gender roles in order to fit in society. To tell me to “stop worrying so much about my gender” is inherently offensive when gender, despite being a construct, shapes how I express myself to society in the clothes that I wear, the way I talk and interact with others, and the bathroom I use.

  19. Allie

    April 26, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    she means that she doesnt feel like her body fits her gender identity. thats what she means. but you dont have to be all nosy about it.

  20. Allie

    April 26, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    If they are a human being, then you call them by their name.
    However the term you should probably use is “intersex”.

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