By: Angelica Bastien
Actress Amandla Stenberg, who recently appeared in the Beyoncé film Lemonade, has quickly become an icon for teens thanks to her intelligence and wit when it comes to racial and gender issues. On her Tumblr blog, Stenberg is known to talk openly with fans, which led to a fascinating exchange recently about what pronouns they prefer given openly identifying as non-binary.
“They/them makes me feel more comfortable,” Stenberg replied. But they continued by expressing how using these pronouns could greatly affect career prospects and their personal life. They ended the original answer by saying that they may continue using “she/her for now.” But when pressed by another fan decided to boldly take on the “they/them” identifiers.
Fans quickly changed the language of Stenberg’s Wikipedia page. While such support is appreciated, Stenberg later noted that they haven’t discussed the matter with neither their family nor publicist. They asked to keep the “she/her” pronouns on the Wikipedia page in order to protect career opportunities going forward. It’s important to understand that while Hollywood is very slowly making progress in terms of diversity that being open about such matters as sexuality and gender identity can greatly affect what roles are available for people like Stenberg.
After Stenberg asked for the Wikipedia page to reflect the “she/her” pronouns, a Tumblr fan countered that they weren’t addressing the real issues involving gender identity. Stenberg countered by saying that “I’m not always your martyr.” It’s easy to forget that Stenberg is only a teenager still figuring out their own identity and place in the world given the success they find and how knowledgeable they are in regards to identity issues. Stenberg should be allowed to wrestle with their own gender and sexual identity, publicly and privately, without being expected to be perfect all the time. These are sensitive, personal issues that deserve to be treated with honesty.
Stenberg’s handling of fans questions about how they identify feels incredibly honest and true to where they are in life. Hopefully, their openness will aid others who are grappling with the same issues too.