Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye opens up about being nonbinary


Jonathan Van Ness is the grooming expert on Queer Eye. He is also the perennial fan favorite for those who watch the show. One of the reasons fans love him is because he lives every thought and emotion out loud. In addition to being emotive, Jonathan has a very feminine energy about him or, as Fran Tirado who interviewed Jonathan for Out said, “in addition to being very publically queer, you are very publically femme — like the femme-iest femme-femme femme.” Jonathan wears whatever he feels like and that includes dresses, skirts, heels and shawls. He will wear makeup when the mood strikes him and he always has beautifully painted and manicured nails. Because of his nail art love, Jonathan is partnering with essie nail polish with Pride-themed colors. In the Out interview, Jonathan discussed being non-binary and how he didn’t come to realize that was how he identified until they had a name for it.

So, are you feeling ready for Pride? I feel like I’m still catching up on sleep from last year’s Pride.
Totally — are we ever ready? I’m so ready for Pride. I love being able to celebrate it, and I love all the fun, but I also feel like Pride is a great opportunity for all of us to like, not only celebrate ourselves but also bring new people into the fold of allyship and into the fold of awareness — the people that were really excited to get away from when you moved out of your hometown — like, when you see them next or on Facebook, reach out and make some contact with folks that may not look the way you look, or act the way you act. Let people celebrate you that are maybe not in your community.

How do you feel about being a spokesperson for a brand that is predominantly marketed toward women?
It’s really cool! The older I get, the more I think that I’m nonbinary — I’m gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman. I don’t really — I think my energies are really all over the place. Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I’m here for it. I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to. I always used to think “Oh, I’m like a gay man,” but I think any way I can let little boys and little girls know that they can express themselves and they can like be — like, making iconic partnerships with brands like essie no matter now they present is really important and exciting.

I know you never came out, but did you ever have an “a-ha” moment of any kind where you realized your femme identity?
Growing up, I definitely put on every nail polish, every heel, every scarf — I definitely had my mom’s knock-off Hermès scarves in my hair and around my waist — those were my skirts, and I loved it.

But when I was really young, I had really femme-shamey, gender-shamey [comments] when I would dress like that. When I would play with those things, I knew it needed to be before the sun came up or after the sun came down, like, in the basement and it needed to be something I couldn’t wear to school — like when I would do it, it had to be behind closed doors. As an adult, I really busted out of that, but it didn’t occur to me that when I was doing dances in heels — but I didn’t really put that together with “gender nonconforming” or “nonbinary” or owning that as an identity until recent because I think I just thought that I loved skirts and heels and like a kind of Whole Foods Face.

Some days I’ll just wear like, little high tops and little short-shorts and a little croppy toppy. But then other days I’m like in a heel, and then other days I’m like in jeans and a sweatshirt, and then other times I’m in like jeans and a poncho. I just am either like gender-bendy or nonconform-y or nonbinary and somedays I feel like a boy and somedays I feel like a girl. I didn’t think I was allowed to be nonconforming or genderqueer or nonbinary — I was just always like “a gay man” because that’s just the label I thought I had to be.

Is the label of nonbinary one you’ve come into recently?
Well like, no. I just didn’t know what the name was. I’ve been wearing heels and wearing makeup and wearing skirts and stuff for a minute, honey. I just like didn’t know that that meant — that I had a title.

[From Out via Towleroad]

My family and I were discussing this over the weekend, about kids being allowed to identify who they are. My husband and I did not experience that growing up. You were straight until you got to college and then you were either straight or gay, like Jonathan said. Any child claiming otherwise would have been told it was a phase or they didn’t know what they were talking about. I can’t imagine what that was like for them. Thank god we’ve evolved as a society. Not just for the children, but for the adults like Jonathan who grew up with only the gay label to place upon himself. During the interview, Jonathan said that his femme-shaming came not only from the straight community but from the LGBTQ community as well. He noted that, “either it’s getting better, or I just don’t care as much.” I would argue it’s both. I think the more comfortable we grow with ourselves, the less we care about what others say about us, but I also think we’ve grown culturally to embrace the many facets of what makes up people.

I also really appreciated Jonathan’s first answer, about using Pride to invite new allies into the fold. I especially love his comment, “Let people celebrate you that are maybe not in your community.” I just love that.

Side-note: Jonathan’s Gay of Thrones is a treat you all deserve.




Photo credit: WENN Photos

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120 Responses to “Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye opens up about being nonbinary”

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  1. Alissa says:

    I like him a lot, and his looks are always interesting. I am always appalled by that mustache/beard thing that’s happening on his face, though.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      funny, I feel the EXACT same way about his facial hair. Just a bit much for my tastes…which made it funny to me that he’s the “grooming expert”.

      but I do LOVE those boots he has on (in the pic in front of the Variety/Cadillac sign).

      • Alissa says:

        Yeah, I will be honest that I would probably not take grooming advice from him. But I would love to be his friend!

      • Boudica says:

        I don’t care much for the facial hair, either, but you can be darn sure that facial hair is is the most marvellous condition it could be in. His hair is wonderful and silky and he knows his facial products. (Yes, I am a fan of the show.) I would definitely take advice from him about how to look after my skin or my hair.

    • Bella Bella says:

      Jonathan would say that body-shaming or facial-hair-shaming has no place anywhere. He’s all about living your best life however you want and looking the way you choose.

      • whatWHAT? says:

        who is “shaming” anyone?

        if I don’t like a dress that Jennifer Aniston wears, and I say so, am I “shaming” her? or just expressing an opinion about a particular style?

      • cuud says:

        you’re not allowed to say anything negative about anyone because it’s “shaming” now?

    • Tori says:

      Yes, completely agree. Although I must admit I might be biased against his facial hair because my ex once decided to grow such a monstrosity only way worse. He looked like a western old timey villain with that thing. That said, I like Jonathan’s looks. He looks damn good (except for the facial hair).

  2. Brunswickstoval says:

    He is such a happy soul.

    • Snowslow says:

      Apparently he suffered from depression but I think it was after loosing his mum (?). In QE though he is always such a luminous being.

  3. elimaeby says:

    Hecate, you hit the nail on the head about our generation being told we didn’t know what we were talking about, sexuality-wise until we were in college. I tried to come out as bi to my mom at around 10-11 and she literally told me I wasn’t old enough to know that. I never brought it up to her again and didn’t fully come out until she passed away, when I was in my mid-twenties.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      I’m sorry you went through that. Society still has a ways to go when it comes to how bisexuality and pansexuality are treated when it comes to girls and guys. Everyone- straight people as well as gay people- can do better.

    • Haapa says:

      I’ve known I was bisexual since I was 11-12 but bisexuality wasn’t taken seriously back then. There was only gay or straight. ESPECIALLY because I have been in a long term monogamous heterosexual relationship for 13 years. So I “came out” last year, even though I had known I was bisexul for over 20 years.

      • otaku fairy... says:

        It sucks that we’re kind of told to take biphobia and bisexual erasure as a compliment Because Otherz Has It Worser. Cool, so should straight women and lesbians take unwanted sexual commentary and ranking from men as a compliment too, since others have it worse?

  4. Uppenyrcraut says:

    I just love the facial hair with all the ladies wear, it looks so right.

  5. Snowslow says:

    I LOVE him to pieces and praise him for his self-acceptance. My 13 year old son loves make-up and had a dress phase – he seems to be non-binary and luckily is a ballet dancer where you are allowed, culturally, more freedom – so watching Jonathan is a real treat for him.

  6. stellalovejoydiver says:

    I love JVN, he also has a killer taste in shoes. I am still dreaming about the rainbow sequins boots he wore to Colbert.
    He is not my fave of the fab 5 though, that would be a tie between Anthony and Tan.

    • Grant says:

      I can’t really stand Antoni but I LOVE Tanny, and his fashion sense!

      • DiegoInSF says:

        Thank you Grant! I cant stand Antoni, he doesn’t even cook!! And always looks strung out!

    • Bella Bella says:

      I’ve become a really big fan of Bobby’s in recent months. I think he has a poignant story and is probably the most shy of all of them. He’s gotten much more comfortable in front of a camera recently.

      • Gaby says:

        Bobby is my absolute favorite, even more with his backstory but I love all of them.

      • susiecue says:

        I love Bobby too! My favorite used to be JVN, and I still love him (and all of them), but I really fell for Bobby in season 3. I think he’s such a kind, sweet soul!

    • Kage says:

      Same I just fell in love with Tan, I feel he’s the perfect blend of being intro + extro verted.

  7. Billbop says:

    A man wanting to wear makeup/dresses/heels/etc does not mean he knows what it feel like to be a woman. I never wear any of those things and I am genetically a woman.

    Sigh. When will people realize you can’t know what it feels like being the opposite sex, it is genetically impossible.

    This man thinks being a woman for the day is wanting to dress in “feminine” clothing. Nope. That is all social constraints and does not make you a man or a woman. French men used to wear perfume/frills/makeup and wigs and didn’t call themselves women.

    Science people. This is a man who likes to wear pretty things. As a feminist it makes me frustrated and upset that this man thinks he can put on a dress and makeup and say he is now a woman or feels like a woman. He has no idea what being a woman really entails, physically or mentally.

    • StellainNH says:

      I agree. I am a woman but I don’t wear makeup and am perfectly happy in jeans and t shirts.

      As long as you’re not hurting anyone, just wear what you want to wear.

    • Snowslow says:

      What does being a woman physically and mentally entail though?
      I find that non-binary is exactly what you describe, not ascribing particularly to a specific sex the cultural tendencies of a specific gender. Jonathan describes it in a schematic way so that it is intelligible.
      As a feminist I find that non-binary people are the best allies you can have: it confuses very stiff notions of gender while recognising what is attributed to women socially, in a very problematic way. It’s like Drag – when I look at them I don’t identify myself with them at all. They are not me as a woman. They are caricatures but also love letters, they are social critique. They question, they discuss. They don’t say “science people” as if the word science meant absolute certainty about social notions.

      • Snazzy says:

        “They are caricatures but also love letters, they are social critique. They question, they discuss. They don’t say “science people” as if the word science meant absolute certainty about social notions.”

        I love this

      • whatWHAT? says:

        yeah, well said.

      • K-Peace says:

        I don’t wear makeup or dresses either, and i don’t consider myself “non-binary”. I’m simply a woman who doesn’t like makeup or dresses.

      • alternative fact says:

        This makes me so sad to read. Do you think women who don’t transition are ok with being treated as women by our horrendously misogynistic world? That they identify with being passive, shallow, and nothing more than an accessory to a man? And drag is no love letter to women.

    • Maria says:

      Feminists who don’t accept trans people or nonbinary people are not feminists.
      It’s nobody’s business to police what a nonbinary person feels.

      • Amaryis says:

        I love that you pointed that out & I agree with you 100%.

      • Lensblury says:

        Thank you, Maria.

      • otaku fairy... says:

        @Babco: The Rachel Dolezal situation isn’t the same though. Even as a cisgender bisexual woman it gets tiring hearing people invoke Rachel Dolezal every time they want to disrespect and exclude nonbinary people, transgender women, bisexual women, pansexual women, or people whose sexualities are otherwise fluid but who are disliked.
        Gender and sexuality can be just about who you are and your own experiences, while race/ethnicity can’t. Your race and ethnicity are made up of who your parents and ancestors were, and their history.

      • Maria says:

        Mumbles – there are plenty of trans men who have gone through those experiences and it never gave them a sense of what it was like to be a woman because they were and are not women. You cannot separate someone’s identity from this.
        Conversely, there are plenty of trans women who do understand it – not through periods, but hormonal issues, social disenfranchisement, and being ostracized and attacked in many similar ways that women are.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      “When will people realize you can’t know what it feels like being the opposite sex”

      no, no, no…

      “When will people realize you can’t know what someone else’s feelings feel like”.


      • Surly Gale says:

        good fix…..but choose to disagree. A man feels joy. A woman feels joy. Both people know what joy feels like. A man feels loss. A woman feels loss. Both people know what experiencing a loss feels like….it may be about different things, but we can certainly identify with each others feelings and that’s called empathy, I believe.
        So, I DO know what someone else’s feelings feel like…..thus, whilst I appreciate the fix, and it’s a good one in it’s way, it shuts us off from one another, rather than bring us all even that much closer together IMHO

      • whatWHAT? says:

        but you don’t know what joy feels like FOR THAT PERSON.

        you don’t know what loss feels like FOR THAT PERSON.

        yes, you can identify, and you can empathize/sympathize, but you can’t ever experience someone else’s feelings FOR THEM, or know EXACTLY what they’re feeling.

        this poster above can’t dictate what “feeling like a woman” means to you, to me, or to JVN. if wearing a dress and make up makes him feel like a woman, that’s what it is for him. that’s all I meant.

    • Velvet says:

      And of course the TERFS show up.

      • Grey says:

        Yes, feminists who believe woman are real, amd not a feeling or nail polish are SCARY TERFS and not feminists.

        Another day, another form of misogyny.

        What is the acronym that applies the men who beat and kill gay and gnc people? I’ll wait.

      • Velvet says:

        I am trans and no longer identify as feminist. It breaks my heart as I was born ’61 and feminism was a large part of my identity for the majority of my life, having cis het woman say that because of biology I don’t exist is devastating. I am just sad at this point. The world is literally burning, facism is surging all over the world and because I don’t fit in a narrow bio essential mold I am a threat to feminism.

      • otaku fairy... says:

        @Velvet: That’s completely understandable and I, as a feminist, respect your choice to distance yourself from a movement where members sometimes mistreat the same groups of people that the religious right mistreats.

      • OriginalLala says:

        I’m so sorry Velvet, I am constantly disappointed in how disgusting people are about these things. Sending my love and solidarity

      • otaku fairy... says:

        @Grey: That sounds like a false dichotomy almost on Dear Muslimah levels. Since when can we not criticize people on the left who absolutely do dehumanize, harass, and disrespect certain members of the LGBT+ community (even when it’s in the name of ‘feminism’, ‘gay rights’ and cultural appropriation) while also criticizing hate crimes, honor crimes, and violence against women?

      • TQB says:

        @Velvet, it is my solemn responsibility to not allow feminism to be co-opted by deliberate misunderstandings of “science” and social constructs. Whatever you’re identity, it is yours and your experience is your own and deserves respect. Accepting the experience of different women does not dilute my own.

      • Velvet says:

        @original lala thanks sweetie. 🙂

    • otaku fairy... says:

      I have a hard time taking feminists who are Trump apologists and anti-choice seriously when they try to speak on gender anyway.

    • Starkiller says:

      Uh oh, looks like someone got lost on the way to their local Trump rally, You are misinformed, out of touch and backwards. Wearing pretty things and being non binary are not the same at all, but I would not expect someone with a brain the size of a pea to grasp that.

    • olive says:

      terf alert

    • Billbop says:

      I could care less what you wear or how you identify. I am not against any person no matter what they feel they might be , it is meaningless since these days you can say you feel like a duck and I must accept that you can feel like a duck, thus you must be a duck. I wish I was joking, but this is how ridiculous it is now.

      But scientifically there are major differences between males and females. No XY can know what is is like to be an XX, they can only imagine.

      I assume this guy is XY, thus he was born a man and will die a man. Nothing he can do, surgery/hormones/counseling will make him a woman. He is a man who just doesn’t want to follow our strict male social constraints, and I applaud him for that. But he is a biological man, not “binary”. He isn’t XXY or some other rare genetic mutation as fat as we can tell. Putting on a dress doesn’t make him a woman that day.

      Why don’t we all just accept we have a sex and forget about this gender nonsense. Arguing that a man is a woman is just ignorant. We all have feelings and you can feel all you want and act and dress however you want, sleep with whomever you want, but stop trying to say that if a person does not follow a strict society constraint on sex they aren’t that sex. Be a man who wears dresses or a girl who loves a girl and takes male hormones, but realize you were born one way.

      When it is all said and done your doctor will have to know your real sex, so stop pretending and just live your life and be whom you want to be. No reason to confuse things by making up gender labels…

      • alternative fact says:

        Amen sis

      • KL says:

        Every reputable scientist who has been asked the question has talked about how sex/gender on the genetic level is much, much, MUCH more complex than XX vs. XY.

        But hey, you have an entry-level understanding of chromosomes and an axe to grind, so why let the experts cloud the issue? Let’s all avoid confusion by relying on what makes you feel the most comfortable as the real “science.”

      • Angel says:

        Brain scans of transgender people show that their brains match the gender that they transition into – not the one that they were assigned at birth. That’s science, too.

      • alternative fact says:

        @ Angel Brain sex is not real. The idea of brain sex (“female brain”) is what is used as an excuse to pay women less, deny us the right to vote, keep us out of certain professions, and on and on and on. So if brain sex is real, it applies to all of us and not just trans identified people. A gendered world creates a gendered brain. I do not understand why we are rolling back decades of feminist advocacy for this issue, but maybe that’s my “girl brain” short circuiting.

    • lobbit says:

      LOLOLO you can’t say “I don’t care how people identify” and then follow up with a 200+ word rant railing about…how people identify.

    • Steph says:

      100% this

    • Justme87 says:

      I love when people use feminism as an excuse to be a bigot. *eyeroll*

    • Megan says:

      There are so many ways to define non binary. JVN is saying he feels comfortable presenting as a man or a woman. I know someone who is non binary and they choose to present as someone who is androgynous because they feel they hold both genders in harmony.

      I think it is best if we let non binary people dictate the rules themselves. They, like everyone else, are just trying to live their best life.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Yes, “science people”. More specifically, “Science, Billbop, is not what you think it is.”

      There are more than 2 genders. What people usually think of as 1 of 2 options confirmed by outside physical characteristics is not “science”. The reality is that sometimes our hormones, our brain chemistry, our internal and external organs, do not conform to 1 of 2 options. Sometimes they are fully both, fully neither, both with 1 dominant, both with the other dominant.

      You don’t know how hormones or brain chemistry or physical attributes play out in this person.

    • GenderStudiesTeach says:

      Biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression are DIFFERENT THINGS. Sounds like you identify as a woman and your gender expression isn’t typically/traditionally feminine. AND THAT’S OKAY. JVN identifies as non-binary and his gender expression mixes both masculine and feminine attributes, and guess what? THAT’S OKAY TOO.

      Wearing a dress, wig, perfume, etc. doesn’t mean you’re a woman. But if someone says they are a woman, a man, non-binary, agender, etc. then you should believe them, as it’s their body, their identity, and their life.

      • Grey says:

        Yeah, people always say “gender identity and expression are TOTALLY DIFFERENT”, but i have yet tonread a single story about a trans child that doesn’t describe their interests and presentation. Boy likes glitter and tutus! Girl likes short hair and football!

      • GenderStudiesTeach says:

        I don’t mean different in the sense that you have one or another. Gender presentation doesn’t always ‘line up’ with biological sex or gender identity. For instance, JVN is non-binary but his gender presentation mixes what we’ve been taught to see as ‘male’ and ‘female’ expression. I am a cis woman and I prefer to wear little colour, pants, and no makeup, and for a long time I didn’t shave my legs. But sometimes, I do like to wear dresses. That’s how I choose to express my gender. I have trans students who wear makeup, some who don’t, some who bind their chests, some who don’t. What is important to understand is that just because someone ‘presents’ in a certain way doesn’t mean that is how they identify and certainly doesn’t tell you what their sex is.

  8. Jess says:

    I have adored Jonathan since “Gay of Thrones”! (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend!!) I love all of this beautiful, open discussion of nonbinary identity and dress. And as a sidenote, I think it should be expressed that straight men can be nonbinary, too! I really hope that this next generation of boys can really embrace their love of fashion in any way they see fit, without having to fight toxic masculinity or labeling. My five-year-old nephew LOVES nail polish and I’ll be damned if anyone tells him he’s not allowed to wear it!!

  9. Morrissey says:

    Have been loving Gay of Thrones for years – do not watch Game of Thrones, either – and was so happy when Jonathan got recognised in a mainstream way. JVN is pure delight. Even when schooling someone on a bad day, Jonathan just has so much warmth and empathy. Also, watching Jonathan’s ice skating videos, learning a new skill in your thirties, made me finally decide to start learning the cello.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’m thankful for the evolution personally. And I consider myself lucky that during mid to late 80s my orbit of friends encompassed a full range of identities (without current titles of course). We all lived and loved the way we lived and loved. I had boyfriends. Some had both. Some dressed gender opposite but loved their own or others or whatever! I wax nostalgia about this particular time in my life because there were no titles and no boxes.

    We lived big city life, and the strange part is that I don’t remember outside anger or hate or any dissention. I’m sure it was there. We couldn’t have lived such open and public diversity in say small town America. I rebelled status quo growing up beginning in the 70s. So with all of that crap in our collective histories, I’m certainly thankful for current conversations. And if labels or titles help movement…great.

    I look forward to a time when society doesn’t have to put everyone in some specific category like ocd-obsessing over a disorganized pantry. Maybe not in my lifetime. But for a hot minute, about seven years, life was exciting, inclusive, beautiful, scary, dangerous, pretentious and humble. We were anything we wanted yet fiercely protective of freedoms, identities, ideas and ideals. Creativity reigned supreme, and I’ve wished that for everyone since.

    • TQB says:

      “I look forward to a time when society doesn’t have to put everyone in some specific category like ocd-obsessing over a disorganized pantry.”

      OMG I love this so much.

    • KL says:

      I personally look forward to a time when people stop misusing “OCD” as a stand in for “detailed and/or controlling” instead of recognizing it as an actual mental disorder which causes incredible distress.

      Society isn’t forcing labels onto people, they’re merely on offer. And hey, I’m glad you had seven good years? But many people with minority identities find labels extremely useful: for community building, for understanding themselves and their experiences, and most importantly for organizing when it comes to political reform. Surely even within your short-lived bubble of utopia in the mid to late eighties you were aware of how disenfranchised certain communities were, how they were neglected and left to die regardless of the label they personally adopted? Can’t you then extrapolate that, in today’s political climate, broadcasting who you are and how you live, without shame or asking any kind of social permission, is not just about the personal?

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Of course I can KL. Can you understand that what I wrote was about MY personal? I didn’t say society is forcing anything (although many may feel pigeonholed into the adoption of particular directions). I believe I also said I’m thankful for the current conversation and use of gender labels being great should they be catalysts in forward movement.

        I find your arrogance and condescension regarding ‘my short-lived bubble of utopia,’ hateful. I was reminiscing about something that meant a lot to me. I fought against backassward ideals where I was raised for so long, that when I found myself not surrounded by judgmental assholes, it was enriching and cultural and yes, memorable. Was I insulated? No. Did my experience indicate to you, in any way, that I had no idea about societal constraints, oppression, racism, class struggles, how our histories evolved, the monumental battles that were still being fought and would continue indefinitely, the very real and dangerous realities so many people are forced to fight every second of every day?

        We lived in the warehouse district of a large metropolitan area complete with a soaring population normally associated with city living. A bubble is a hardly accurate descriptive as is utopia. But your visible intention was successful. It hurt and popped today’s thought balloon. I hope you offer others shame-free social permission to communicate unlike what you did with me.

        Oh yes, the OCD insult. As with most things related to our ‘individual self,’ there all full ranges of obsessive behavior just like all behaviours. And most of us who identify with some locale under that umbrella understand my written gesture as it’s not intended, in any way whatsoever, to mock the disorder.

  11. Amaryis says:

    “… a Whole Foods kind of face.”
    God, I love him so much.

    • Frida_K says:

      I wasn’t sure what that one meant, actually.

      Can anyone tell me what is a Whole Foods kind of a face? I’m guessing it has something to do with being white and hipster, but perhaps I am mistaken.

      ¿¿ …. ??

    • whatWHAT? says:

      yeah, like Frida_K, I don’t even know what it means but it STILL made me laugh.

  12. Tiffany says:

    His IG account just brings me so much joy.

    • Bella Bella says:

      I absolutely love how he is learning how to ice skate and is going back to his gymnastics roots and that he shares his growth and learning process on IG. He is inspirational in terms of following your dreams. And he is astonishingly strong. Those yoga routines he posts are phenomenal!

  13. lobbit says:

    I will forever be frustrated with this consistent conflation of wearing dresses and makeup with womenhood/girlhood. And I have this growing sense that non-binary gender identities totally reinforce the polarities they’re meant to challenge – I’m not sure that it matters but it certainly is ironic.

    But in any case, he’s lovely and I’m glad he’s happy in his identity. We all deserve that.

    • Snowslow says:

      On the contrary, I think men are going through what women went through in the beginning of the twentieth century where they started wearing trousers and cutting their hair etc. Non-binary people help us see that if women wear trousers, suits and ties, men can also wear make-up and skirts. There is a reality regarding gender in every culture and what was manly before (wigs and make-up for example) is now culturally feminine which is always going to e restrictive. Whether you want it or not the idea of womanhood for 99% of the western world is whatever you find in a shop for women.
      I personally find it quite annoying to see him so enamoured with high heels which I think is akin to torture. But if it rocks his boat and if men start wearing them and like it, so be it! What is a prison for some is liberating for others. Clothes can also be symbolic… Like flags…

      • babco says:

        No because they claim “I am a woman” rather than “I m a man and I actually like doing feminine things and I am no less of a man for that” …

        Gay and camps did more to break the stereotypes of male identity than transactivists in that regard.

      • lobbit says:

        I’m sure he’s making lots of men and boys feel more comfortable with dressing in women’s/girl’s clothing and challenging traditional notions of gender performance – but that’s a separate conversation (kind of).

        My point is a bit more…pedantic? I’m saying that non binary identity can’t challenge notions of gender (as a concept) when it continually reflects back upon two poles–girl/woman or boy/man. So Jonathan seems to link gender performance to clothing, which means he dresses like a boy or a girl depending on how he feels – and in doing so he reinforces traditional notions of what it means to be a “girl” or a “boy.”

      • alternative fact says:

        “On the contrary, I think men are going through what women went through in the beginning of the twentieth century ”

        No, they absolutely are not.

        How is it progressive to say “I’m not a man because I like dresses and nail polish”? It’s not challenging gender stereotypes to say you “feel like a woman” while wearing a dress and “feel like a man” while wearing pants. JVN will have had his own struggles being a nonconforming man but he has no idea what it’s like to be a woman.
        So does the fabled “lady brain” that couldn’t handle reading exist now?

    • GenderStudiesTeach says:

      I don’t see it as reinforcing polarities at all. I see it as being ‘gender creative,’ a term that I first read in Kate Bornstein’s book Gender Outlaw, which I highly recommend. We should all learn to be gender creative– to express ourselves playfully, to paint with all the colours in the box if we want. I think JVN raises important questions that challenge our notions of binary gender: ‘why shouldn’t a person have facial hair and wear high heels? Who says these things belong to men or woman? Why can’t they belong to whomever wants to wear them?’

      Non-binary is an umbrella term. It doesn’t mean ‘no gender’ but might mean ‘all genders,’ ‘both genders,’ or ‘sometimes one, sometimes another.’

      • Lobbit says:

        Of course you can be creative about gender expression, but the western world doesn’t even have the language to think outside the man/woman paradigm, which means that we are constantly defining gender expression according to that model. So when you say that feeling like a girl means dressing as such and feeling like a boy means dressing as one – then of course you are reinforcing traditional notions of gender, even as you are being playful about them.

      • GenderStudiesTeach says:

        I think the world is moving towards a more gender-expansive view, just based on what I see in media, what I see in my school and classroom, and what I see in my friends’ families and city. How does the western world get there if we don’t play, question, mix, and disrupt? It’s not about moving to a world with no gender– that’s probably impossible. We got stuck with the man and woman thing, so it makes sense to me that we start there. Though some societies have third genders the western world doesn’t have much history of that, and so non-binary and non-gender conforming seems to be more popular terms people are using to express their identities.

      • alternative fact says:

        Why can’t a male person who wears dresses just be a man who wears dresses? Why does he need a category? Gender creates infinite cages for people to be trapped in. Do you have opposition to the idea of gender abolition, where female people are just women regardless of presentation and male people are just men regardless of presentation? I just cannot understand how saying “I’m not a man because I’m more nurturing and because I enjoy makeup” is liberating anyone.

  14. Canadian says:

    It would be cool if TERF’s wouldn’t post here, it gives me nausea. I’m a lesbian and feminist, and those labels are comfortable for me, while I respect that other people don’t identify with labels.

    Trans folks and all who fall under the trans umbrella, and who embrace gender fluidity, deserve our support. I love JVN and the whole QE crew.

  15. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I did not know he was a fan fave. I find him rather annoying- too much buzzing around & talking- his energy is over the top.

    As a more introverted person, I dig Tan and the gorgeous Karamo. Calmer energies.

  16. Sandy says:

    What is the definition of a woman? I like what a poster said above about being a woman is rooted in pain. To me it would be like me saying I feel white today but I feel like a person of colour tomorrow. Being white I can’t understand what it means to experience what people of a different skin colour face. Just like a man cannot experience the pain a woman faces. If feeling like a woman means putting on a dress we have a real problem. To me that is the same as painting your face darker and saying you feel like a person of colour. And if he were a woman we would be really disliking the fashion he wears the grey dress with socks and shoes!! If he really wants to be a woman perhaps he should experience how women take down other woman around fashion. Instead he’s been given a pass

    • Snowslow says:

      sigh – please don’t equate issues that are not equivalent. Painting your face brown is not an option socially whereas putting on a dress is. Race and gender identities are not the same thing. One is a cultural construct and heritage based on more or less physical appearances and the other a construct based around a spectrum between sex and sexual behaviour. Those things are complex and so varied (just look into other communities like indigenous people in Amazonia or certain areas of Africa – we did not invent these things).
      Since the dawn of time it has been accepted that human identity is made of both genders (you have that in lots of medical / religious / sacred beliefs). This goes beyond whatever science or even genitalia you want to focus on. Playing black is an offensive thing, playing with gender is a boundary breaking, fun, constructive and even empathetic thing. I love that the fab 5 call themselves girl and embrace a lot of qualities that western society attribute to my gender, event hough I may not partake in all those qualities and attributes.

      • otaku fairy... says:

        Thank you.

      • alternative fact says:

        Just because something is a cultural construct does not mean it does not have real, material consequences.
        Race is a cultural construct, but the effects of having brown skin in America has material effects.
        The words “male” and “female” sure are made up, but having a female body is real. The violence those people categorized as “male” inflict on those labeled “female” are felt in material ways.

    • Jenn says:

      Not that JVN is claiming to be a woman — rather, he’s accepted that the labels “gender-nonconforming” and “non-binary” apply to him, and he still uses “he/him” pronouns — but if “womanhood” is “rooted in pain,” then transwomen are absolutely entitled to womanhood, being as they are the most endangered group in the world. Their murders are on the rise; in Texas, it’s an epidemic. And they are murdered by the same group that murders cisgender women: angry, entitled straight men who hate women.

      My friend was out as trans for ONE YEAR before a man sexually assaulted her, just barely out of public view. Another trans friend, who “passes,” recently had her first experience of a middle-aged stranger telling her to hurry up and “freeze her eggs.” There is a universality of experience for ALL women, whether you want to believe it or not.

      P.S. Plenty of women wear socks with shoes. Come to California, and I will show you a patchouli-scented woman in socks and Crocs.

      • alternative fact says:

        JVN is claiming he “feels like” a woman somedays. He seems to think feeling like a woman means wanting to wear a dress.

        3 women per day are murdered by a current or former intimate partner. This is also an epidemic. We can raise awareness about violence towards trans people without diminishing the violence committed against women.

      • Jenn says:

        Since another commenter defines womanhood by “the pain a woman faces,” I was speaking to a threat that all women share in common. Transwomen are in at least as much danger as cisgender women. Pointing out that one particular demographic is being murdered (and having hatred incited against them!) is not “taking away” from another demographic. I am cis and a survivor of intimate-partner violence, and I take issue with your assertion that I am “diminishing” violence against women. I’m praying for you.

      • GenderStudiesTeach says:

        ‘if “womanhood” is “rooted in pain,” then transwomen are absolutely entitled to womanhood, being as they are the most endangered group in the world.’


        When will people understand that transwomen are ALSO women??

      • alternative fact says:

        Womanhood is rooted in being female bodied.

  17. GeekLuva says:

    What is TERF an acronym for?

    Edit: Nevermind, googled it. Why do people want to hate so bad?

  18. Alyse says:

    This interview was made x100 by the fact that I can’t help but read his words in his delightfully happy voice 🙂

  19. Snowflake says:

    Something about his personality is just so endearing to me. I think it’s something to do with how open he is about himself. There’s no facade, no pretense, no need to play the social games, he’s just him. No matter what people,may think. And I love it. His spirit is so wonderful.

  20. notthisagain says: