the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Rhea Butcher

Take my pronouns: How Rhea Butcher helped me figure out my gender identity

July 12, 2018

Growing up not knowing other people like you exist is extremely difficult. As a non-binary person, it was tough for me to figure out my own identity when I saw little to no representation of non-binary identities. I would look around at the figures in mainstream media and see nobody I could truly relate to.

A little after I started questioning my gender identity and using a mix of she and they pronouns, I was listening to clips of my favorite comedian, Rhea Butcher. For the first time, I heard a well-known person say they were feeling the way I felt.

Back in August of 2017, Rhea was on their wife Cameron Esposito’s podcast Queery. When Cameron asked how Rhea identifies now, they said “You’re catching me at a state of flux...I currently, I’ll put it this way, tend to use like she/her and stuff like that. Doesn’t bother me. I’m open to and also stoked by hearing they. Doesn't bother me.”

Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles. Getty Images for GLAAD.

Rhea spoke about their maybe-not-so cisgender identity and I really related to that. In the past, they had often described themself as genderqueer or gender nonconforming at their comedy shows and in interviews, and regularly voiced frustration in their relationship to gender and gender norms. Rhea came to terms with their gender identity in a very public way.

Rhea now firmly identifies as gender non-binary and uses they/them/their pronouns. Though they’d been hinting at their identity for some time, it wasn’t until March 30, 2018, when they tweeted explicitly: “FYI I use they/them/their pronouns now.”

Rhea is remarkable, not just because they now serve as a source of non-binary representation, but because they weren’t afraid to publicly share their journey. Unlike other public figures, Rhea has been open and honest throughout questioning and changing their identity, and this has made an enormous difference in young and old non-binary/trans lives, including my own.

It is extremely validating to hear Rhea be so confident in who they are, while also publicly questioning themselves. In the binary world we live in, we need non-binary representation to break barriers and show the next generation they can do anything. Rhea is the representation we need to do just that.

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Hannah Oliver is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and rising senior at Central Washington University studying political science, women's, gender, and sexuality studies.

the voice and vision of a new generation