Asia Kate Dillon’s dog is non-binary too: ‘My dog, I just call Herbert or buddy’

Fillm Premiere of John 3 Wick

I’ve mentioned this before, but Billions is one of the few current shows I’m watching. I love it – I started watching it because I’m a Damian Lewis fan, and now I’m watching it because I’m a huge Asia Kate Dillon fan. The rest of the people can and should burn in hell for what they’ve done, just leave me Taylor Mason, the non-binary mathematical savant who can make billions of dollars in their sleep. Asia Kate – like the Billions character they play, Taylor Mason – prefers they/them pronouns, so that’s what I’m using in this post. It takes a minute to get used to writing that way, just as it takes a minute to normalize the non-binary language on Billions. Anyway! Asia Kate covers New York Magazine and it’s a wonderful profile. I came into it thinking “I hope New York Magazine doesn’t make them talk about being non-binary instead of talking about their work,” but Asia Kate is clear: their non-binary identity is so central to the role and to their life. You can read the piece here. Some highlights:

Even their dog is non-binary: “My dog, I just call Herbert or buddy. I do think it’s fascinating though that primarily the first question when one asks about Herbert is, is Herbert a boy or a girl? As if the context is needed for them to understand something greater about the dog.”

Asia Kate’s style: “I want to be comfortable above all else — I’m pretty much always wearing a sensible sneaker,” though they say they’ve been dipping back into stereotypically feminine clothing since coming out as nonbinary because “that didn’t make me feel like I had to be a girl or a woman, just because I was wearing a dress or a skirt or a full face of makeup.”

Their partner: They refer to their partner, a nonbinary playwright, as their “sweetheart.” (For instance, when explaining why they use a flip phone: “if my sweetheart and I are going out on a date or whatever, I’m not even tempted to check anything.”)

Their sexuality: They tried coming out as a lesbian, but that didn’t feel quite right, nor did saying they were bisexual. They now identify as pansexual, saying they are “a human being who is attracted to other human beings.”

Asia Kate wanted to blend with Taylor Mason: “Right from the beginning, I didn’t feel any kind of pressure or like, Oh my God, what did I get myself into? Because I felt immediately like the autonomy was mine. And then, on top of that, I spent almost 32 years not living in the full truth of my experience. I was more than ready to talk about it as much as I could, engage with my newfound community, and really just live fully in my truth for the first time in my life.”

Whether they’re a trailblazer: “I am one part of the community, whose visibility would not be possible without the work that had been done before me by the people who continue to be the most marginalized from the movement. That trail existed long before me.”

[From The Cut]

As I said, I love the Taylor Mason character. They steal every scene they’re in and they make the men of the show – especially Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis’ characters – seem so petty, arrogant and self-involved. Plus, Asia Kate makes the other actors look like they’re overacting – Asia is a model of minimalism, and you only know their reaction to some particular piece of news by a bare flicker of an eyelid, a hint of a smirk, a faintly parted lip. They’re incredibly watchable. My hope for the season finale (this coming Sunday) is that all of the male leads die or go to prison and that Billions just becomes The Taylor Mason Show.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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58 Responses to “Asia Kate Dillon’s dog is non-binary too: ‘My dog, I just call Herbert or buddy’”

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  1. Ariel says:

    People don’t ask if a dog is a boy or a girl b/c they give a crap about the gender of the dam dog. People just want to use the correct pronoun when referring to said dog.

    • Lurker says:

      Right? Haha

    • Moses says:

      A man once told me his dog “identifies as female” and I did a double-take. I wanted to ask him how he would even know as dogs don’t have the same thoughts as us and can’t express them to us anyhow, but I didn’t. People can and should be themselves and identify how they want, but when they start having those conversations around their pets, they lose me.

    • nocleverhandle says:

      Came here to say that.

    • Haapa says:

      That’s why they/them pronouns are so great! I’m trying to default to that unless I explicitly know someone’s gender.

  2. TQ says:

    I absolutely love the Taylor Mason character! Asia Kate Dillon does an amazing job in the role. Kudos.

    • Maisie says:

      I had the exact experience as Kaiser had with Billions: started watching because I love Damian Lewis, but really got hooked when Dillon joined the cast. Thank god, too – even my love for Lewis was being sorely tested by Paul Giamatti’s utterly gross character (which has become grosser with each episode) and Dillon’s presence, paired with Lewis’s great performance as Bobby Axlerod, has kept me engrossed. The show has an excellent supporting cast too, something which also mitigates the utterly annoying Giamatti (I *hate* his voice!).

  3. Naddie says:

    I don’t like the idea of calling your dog “buddy” because it’s too generic, but I kinda dig the idea of being called “owner” by my dog, if she could speak.

    • Bettyrose says:

      IDK. I assume my pup thinks of me as “mommy.” Okay that’s not non binary but “parent”seems a little formal. Maybe pup thinks more in concepts and I’m “favorite face to lick.”

  4. Jen says:

    They’re also completely amazing in John Wick 3 and wear thoroughly badass structured couture suits throughout the entire thing. If you haven’t seen it and you’re an Asia fan, you will LIKE IT A LOT.

    (As a queer woman they are Absolutely My Type, so I might be a leeeetle biased.)

    • Snowslow says:

      Oh good. I’ve been trying to avoid watching JW3 as I hate violent films and fell asleep during JW1 but from what I seen it seems to have some fantastic scenes, Halle Berry and now Asia, who is indeed super sexy 😉

    • MrsBanjo says:

      I came here to say the same thing. They’re fantastic in JW3.

    • Tiffany says:

      Yes they were. Amazing performance in JW3 and since I don’t watch Billions and am just reading Kaiser’s take on Asia Kate’s acting style, it looks like it rolled over in their performance in the film.

  5. grabbyhands says:

    Every dog I see is either “puppy!!” (Regardless of age of said dog) or “flooferson” (depending on floof level of said dog) or “schmoogeyface”.

    I’m still getting used to making sure I’m not always falling back on gendered pronouns, but I want to be a good ally so I try to think about it more before I speak and not make assumptions. My company recently implemented ways for people to post their preferred pronoun with their name in our inter company Slack channel, which allows them to be seen and us as their coworkers to make sure we are using the correct pronouns and it’s just treated as a regular thing and I love that they show this support. It’s a small bit of brightness in the world right now.

  6. Robinda says:

    I’ve got two female dogs but gave them traditionally boy’s names. When people question it, I just point out that they’re dogs. It weirds people out a lot more than it should.

    • Case says:

      I was telling a family member about how big my boy kitten is already, and he was like, “ooh, a tough guy, huh?” And then I told him that no, he’s very sweet and gentle even though he’s big. He then goes, “oh, so he’s a wuss?” I said no, he’s a cat.

      People get weird about the strangest things, I swear.

  7. banana_bread says:

    I have a friend who identifies as non-binary and prefers the prounouns ‘ze/zer’. Obviously I want to be supportive and so have really tried to educate myself on why this is so important to zer and others. Honestly not wanting to offend anyone and I absolutely will always respect how anyone wishes to be identified, but I have to admit I still don’t get it. Which I guess is fine, I don’t have to ‘get’ it, just show respect.

    Sincerely asking though, aren’t we all non-binary anyway? In that we all have ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits in varying proportions? I hate narrow gender stereotypes and think that being male/female is whatever you make it and that accepting that would be simpler and better than coming up with an additional category – I don’t understand how making more boxes for people to fit in is more freeing than challenging the parameters of the existing boxes.

    Sorry, am really not expressing myself well this morning but I would really appreciate if someone could help me understand a little better!

    • Snowslow says:

      The only issue I have is when I started reading the article, I was a bit distracted and assumed it was about a group of people because “they” is a plural pronoun. So in that sense, zer is better pragmatically.

      I do appreciate this self-discovery and boundary pushing era we live in. I always struggled with femininity and veered on the androgynous side. But then I catch myself enjoying something construed as feminine in my appearance. That always confused me in terms of identity. I sometimes wished I was a boy / sometimes wish I was a man, but would never change my sex. I also occasionally enjoy being a woman but think that the things I enjoy in other eras were also masculine (lipstick, from the Egyptians to some courts in different eras). So… what does this all mean? I do struggle like Asia with very fixed gender roles to the point where it really affects me.
      Sorry, long soup salad which is not very helpful to you to say that people like Asia really are helping, in an experimental way, for humans to let go of cultural boundaries and find their own bliss hopefully.

      • Lucy says:

        I used to have the same reaction to the plurality of “they/their” because I can get very particular about grammar; however, I learned there is a very long history of using “they/their” as singular in English. It is not as new as we think it is at a rhetorical level, which I found super interesting!

    • Venus says:

      @banana_bread I completely agree! Especially with this: “I hate narrow gender stereotypes and think that being male/female is whatever you make it and that accepting that would be simpler and better than coming up with an additional category.” Gender is just the roles and behavior that society deems acceptable to each sex — it’s basically a bunch of bull.

      I grew up in the 70s and 80s when things were more fluid for kids. Today the “pink princess girl” and “gamer boy” stereotypes are everywhere and seen as the norm. I think a lot of the agender and related movements are connected to that — “I’m a girl but hate sparkles and pink and don’t wear dresses, so I must be nonbinary.” I don’t really understand that point of view, because sparkles + pink = girl was never what I grew up with so I never internalized it as a norm. But as women gain more power in the workplace and in politics, the societal stereotyping has intensified. I think it’s all about men’s anxiety regarding the patriarchy.

      Be your own damn self, whatever your sex.

    • Musgrave says:

      It’s very true. Everyone is non-binary. There is no “right way” to be a male or female. There is sex, and woman and man are what you make of it. When you say “I am not a woman, I am a person”, you are reinforcing that “woman” is a box with rigid boundaries. No one “feels like” a man or woman, they just are or aren’t. And eveything else is just your style, personality, and interests. The way the dog was spoken about – yes, we should wonder why we have the gendered expectations we do of animals and people – but sex is real. Nonbinary is a political statement that challenges the status quo, not the innate state or trait of a person.

      • Billbop says:

        I agree. Your sex is biological and can’t be changed. But everything else is just gender stereotypes. No man really knows what is like to be a woman. He never has a period or goes through menopause. He might thing he knows, but it is physically impossible. He is just reinforcing stupid gender stereotypes of what he thinks makes him a woman. No woman will ever know what it feels like to be a man. Put as many hormones you want in your body, have surgery, but you can’t change your genes!

        It is science people, not feelings!!!

        Why don’t we just say we are a man or woman and act however the hell we want to? A man can wear makeup and a dress, a woman can shoot a gun and chew tobacco. Why are we making this so confusing? Be who you want to be, but realize genes determines your sex and you can’t change it.

        So tired of this crap…

      • Diane says:

        +1 I agree dress and act how you want. Pink and long hair are not just for girls, no color or clothes “make you gay or straight” but the rest of this to me is just adding to labels not taking them away, Its all way too confusing for me…

    • 2lazy4username says:

      My friend learned that recently. She was on her first day at a new job when her department offered to take her to lunch. Her department (appeared to be ) all women. She stopped by her new boss’ office to let her know “the ladies” were kindly taking her to lunch. One of the members of the group said, in an annoyed voice, “i need to nip this in the bud right now. I’m not a she, and please do not refer to me as such.” They were wearing a dress, heels, and a full face of makeup. My friend, who is incredibly open, felt bad for offending them,but was also confused because… how was she supposed to know? Her honest question to hersefl was, “Are we supposed to remove any and all assumptions based on appearance moving forward?”

      • Nicole R says:

        Well I wasn’t there, but from your friend’s description it sounds like she was corrected, not reprimanded. So, she didn’t do anything wrong but the person who did not identify as female let her know this information right away.

    • Slowsnow says:

      That’s super interesting Lucy! I’ll look into it.

  8. LeaTheFrench says:

    Asia Kate is magnificent in Billions. They have a very broad acting range and bring a lot of intensity on screen, with barely noticeable adjustments of their gaze, posture or tone. They’re truly talented.

  9. SuperStef says:

    Asia Kate Dillon is an amazing actor and I’m so glad you’re covering them. I learned a lot about identifying as non-binary by reading some of her interviews. It brings to light conversations and awareness that needs to be had.

    I also enjoy Maggie Siff’s character on the show. Its just a great role for her and although she’s been so many other characters, she pulls them off with ease.

  10. Nev says:

    I love Billions!!!!

    • Snowslow says:

      I watched a few episodes on the plane once and was mesmerised by it. I also love Damian Lewis. Hoping to catch up with it at some point.

    • PlainJane says:

      Here to say the same thing, I love Billions!! I binged watched the first season with my son when he became an investment banker. After that, I was completely hooked.

      Taylor Mason is also my favorite character, I adore them! As Kaiser says, their acting is divine! I love that they are bringing attention to the non-binary world as well. It’s about time!

  11. Marine says:

    Well let s refer to English grammar rules as it is taught to us foreigners … it is an animal so it s an IT … see easy

    • Jensies says:

      Um what? Are you suggesting we refer to people as “it”? If so, that’s a bad look. That objectification has been used against queer and POC populations for hundreds of years to make them seem less than and subjugate them. So no. Just say “they”.

      • Tori says:

        Marine is quite clearly referring to the dog and not the actress. Did you miss the part of the sentence where she states “it is an animal”?

  12. huncamunca says:

    At the end of last summer, my ex and I found a starving kitten in our parking lot, and when we took it to the vet we were told it was a girl. We named her Clementine and nursed her back to health. At her next checkup, the vet told us we actually had a boy. By that time, we were attached to the name, so we just made it work. A couple of months after that, Clementine stunned us by going into heat (it should have been obvious she was a girl, but I’ve never had a boy cat before). I’m glad I didn’t bother changing the name just because of some “gender” thing, and understandably, people still call her by both pronouns. We joke that she’s my little gender fluid kitty. All that being said, it just seems kind of absurd to be using an animal to make some statement about gender identity. They’re just animals; it really isn’t that deep.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      I love the name Clementine! That was my first dog’s name. Odd the vet couldn’t tell what sex she was. Didn’t you get her spayed? A cat in heat is not pretty.
      On topic, Asia Kate is gorgeous. Billions is on my list of shows to start soon.

      • huncamunca says:

        Thank you! She’s a long-haired orange girl, which I’ve been told is uncommon. I did get her spayed, but it took longer than I wanted it to… the conditions of keeping her (rather than fostering) was that my ex needed to be responsible for half her vet bills/expenses. He kept saying he couldn’t afford to do it. Needless to say, we are no longer together and Clementine lives with me–and she has been spayed.

    • PlainJane says:

      I had a cat with the opposite gender name too! I adopted her from the SPCA on St. Patrick’s Day when she was two years old, so obvi, her name was Patrick. It really fit her! Ahh, that kitty, she was such a love …

      • jwoolman says:

        I’ve done the same many times. No cat has ever complained. But then cats are remarkably free of human gender stereotypes.

  13. wowza says:

    I feel really grateful to live in a community where using they/them pronouns is very normalized.

    Kaiser’s right, it can be tricky to adopt at first. All the way back in 2012, I had a friend and a roommate who were my first introductions to this pronoun choice, and it was really confusing to me. But 7 years later, it rolls right off the tongue, and I find it easier to defer to neutral when I’m saying something like, “i haven’t found a dentist yet, but when I do, I’ll ask them about my tooth pain” etc. And I do think it has ever so slightly deprogrammed my brain to think of the world in gendered ways.

    Side note: most non-binary or even trans people I know are really forgiving about pronoun slip ups, as long as they can tell you’re trying and coming from a place of respect. There’s this stereotype of people being overly fussy and demanding about pronouns, which a) is kind of their right, tbh. b) I haven’t really encountered personally, although I’m sure those people exist.

    • banana_bread says:

      Oh they sure do…have had my head bitten off for an innocent slip of the tongue even though I immediately apologised. If you’ve used ‘he/she’ to refer to someone for literally 2 decades it is very hard not to slip up. Especially because you don’t get THAT much practice as when talking to someone you’re using ‘you’ anyway most of the time, it’s really only when there’s a third party in the conversation it becomes relevant. I’ve been to a place where everyone dons a badge on entry with their preferred pronoun which I found very weird but I guess it makes sense, like hard of hearing people sometimes wear badges rather than constantly having to ask people to speak up/clearly! NOT comparing being gender neutral to having a disability to be clear, but just thinking about how people communicate their needs and preferences.

  14. Bettyrose says:

    The English language desperately needs a singular non binary pronoun. Singular they is fraught with confusing verb agreement.

    • Shelley says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone in my opinion that a pronoun name other than “they” would be preferable.

      A Little Story:
      I enrolled in the local community college to earn an associate degree when my daughter was three (1995). During those first two semesters taking the required English 1 and English 2 courses, I remember we were regularly encouraged to take their 1 credit, English Grammar and Punctuation class that was offered once a year. I DID take that course – as well as take their Business Communications course that also focused on grammar – and I did really well. I felt so pleased by this education – like I really knew something valuable.

      Fast forward a couple of years to when I’m actually working in the field, and it appears that in this “real world” environment none of my coworkers (all of whom have far more education than I do) see the value in proofreading our company’s business correspondences for grammar or punctuation mistakes. When I, very respectfully and gently, notified my superiors of a couple of errors in their correspondences, they’re reply was, “I mean – I GUESS if that kind of thing is important to you. It’s not to us.” (That particular comment happened at my last secretarial job at the community college where I learned these rules.)

      • Bettyrose says:


        I’m cringing! I’ve had similar conversations, also in a college office environment. How do they not get that good grammar isn’t about fussy teachers? It’s about clarity. So much time is wasted trying to clarify meaning, and no one likes to have their time wasted.

  15. geekychick says:

    Come ON.
    Yeah, sure Jan.
    I have nothing against real animal lovers, but this anthropomorphizing of animals is not ok. To animals, first and foremost. AND to our way of thinking not everything should be like humans. Not everything is. And that is good.
    If you can’t love your dog/cat/whatever as what he/she/it is: a dog, a cat or whatever other animal, don’t have an animals.

    • Amanduh says:

      Thank you! Lets not project our personas onto animals. Also, reading “they and them” is just so confusing. I kept thinking “they” might identify as multiple people almost like multiple personality disorder or something and just kept rereading to see what I was missing. Then I saw its just the pronoun they want to be called. I agree with @Bettyrose though. We definitely need to come up with a singular non binary pronoun because grammatically this just doesn’t make any sense.

  16. MrsBanjo says:

    After reading this I was thinking about how I address my dog. I realised I don’t really ever address him by a gendered pronoun. I tend to say “GOOD DOG” instead of “good boy”. It’s not a conscious choice, it’s just that I tend to use neutral terms to address him. I didn’t think Asia’s perspective was an issue in the first place, but in thinking about that, I feel it’s even less of one. It’s really not that big of a deal to refer to dogs in neutral pronouns. And they’re right that often times when you interact with people while walking their dogs, the first thing they ask is “girl or boy?”. I’ve done it, even though it’s really not necessary. A simple, “What’s your dog’s name? Breed? Temperament?” All of those are perfectly good questions to ask without focusing straight on the pronoun associated with their genitalia.

  17. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Sorry but this made me roll my eyes – massively. Animals are not humans. And we need to stop applying the way we think as humans to animals. My cat is a male cat his name is Finn. I highly doubt he is walking around thinking how he doesn’t want to be misgendered or that he identifies as non-binary. Humans do. And I have no issues with that. But we humans make things waaay more complicated than they need to be at times. And this is a perfect example of that.

    • 2lazy4username says:

      My dog is TOTALLY human 🙂
      Kidding aside, true gender fluidity exists in the animal kingdom, as there are actually many hermaphrodites. As to whether they go around thinking about it, guess we’ll never actually know!

  18. CallmeCrazi says:

    Can’t we just be humans and animals animals. Why do we need to over complicate everything. Stop arguing about fitting into boxes, only to create more boxes. My head hurts, people are people, animals are animals, plants are plants. What they do with themselves are none of my business. Just be a decent human being, I see nothing else beyond that.

  19. Ginger says:

    This person sounds exhausting.

  20. Khy says:

    I’m not referring to a singular person as them\they. I hate bad grammar , I’m just not doing it. I can call you person.

    • Lena says:

      agreed! I’m a teacher for God’s sake and that shit just doesn’t fly with me!!!

    • Jensies says:

      It’s definitely more important that you take a stand about grammar rather than recognizing someone’s true gender and letting them feel seen for a minute.

      Also, as an above commenter pointed out, English has a long history of using they/them in a singular fashion, we’re just not super used to. Expand yourself.

    • Lex says:

      French (and some other languages) has the same word for you plural and you polite/formal (vous). You get it from the context of the sentence. It really is not hard to follow. Same as how English uses “you” for singular and plural. This is just a singular or plural they.

      Get over it.