Gender expression is at the forefront of popular culture right now, with celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose revealing they are gender-fluid, and Caitlyn Jenner publicly becoming the woman she always wanted to be.
Australia’s own drag superstar and trailblazer Courtney Act has also opened up about her own gender identity, revealing a term which she feels best describes her, although she definitely doesn’t feel the need to slide into a category within society.
The gender-bending beauty sat down with the ladies of Man Repeller to chat about the topic, bringing forward a different and appreciated perspective. In a world that prefers to categorise the unknown to better understand it, Courtney, real name Shane Jenek, prefers to live in the moment, saying, “I’ve just been having fun this last year, really discovering the grey area and not needing to fit into a box.”
It’s been a remarkable year for the former Australian Idol contestant. Since placing in the top three of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Courtney has travelled the world, strutted down the catwalks of fashion week, and recorded her EP, Kaleidoscope, which she is currently promoting, mid-tour.
Courtney understands that her lifestyle and gender expression can be confusing to understand for some, but explains, “I am still probably just as much a man (in drag) as I am when I am dressed as Shane.”
As expected, dealing with gender identity hasn’t always been easy for the Courtney. “For most of my twenties I really was trying to be a man. I felt like I had to have this muscle-y body to be valued as a man in society. I struggled with that a lot,” she revealed. “But now I feel a little bit more free about the whole thing. I don’t have to be a man, I can just be me.”
Courtney also clarified that she is not transgender as some might assume. “Well, I use the term genderqueer now,” she explained. “I don’t use the term transgender. Because I live as a boy and I dress as Courtney.”
According to GLAAD’s website, genderqueer is, “A term used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.
“They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as genderqueer.”
Courtney assured Leandra Medine of Man Repeller that “queer” is totally appropriate to use, even though it “used to be” offensive to some. “Queer is a yes-yes,” she explained. “It’s one of those words that’s been reclaimed, I guess.”
Courtney continued, “Queer now is a word that represents a modern movement about sexuality — people who don’t identify as heterosexual or homosexual. It’s almost like a political statement. And same for me with genderqueer. It’s less of an actual thing for me and more of a statement.
As society progresses, it’s becoming clear that gender identification and sexuality and becoming less black and white, and we’re more than OK with that. As Leandra says to finish the interview, “All I have to say is you’ve got really beautiful eyes. Not for a guy, not for a girl, just for a person.”
Read the full interview here. It’s lengthy but definitely worth your while.
[Via Man Repeller]