I didn't follow the Oscars much, so I have not noticed any non-gender-binary people (sometimes referring to themselves as "gender-queer") as nominees. But I am curious to know how do people like this get nominated for gender specific awards when there are only two options present?

For the case of actors in drag and transgender actors, are they sorted by their birth sex or the gender they follow in the role they're nominated for? And what about third gender or gender neutral people?

Note: I have nothing against the LGBT community and I openly support them. This question is just for the sake of curiosity.

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    Oscar voting is secretive, and mostly old white men, so, they don't get considered at all. Not that there is many to begin with
    – cde
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 7:00
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    I think, not certain, the "actor/actress" divide starts at the casting level, so a non-binary actor would choose whether to follow and audition for casting calls for "actors" or "actresses" (or both), and I imagine which Oscar it fell under would be defined by the casting call for that role. Maybe Guild too. Interestingly, even Wikipedia splits its list of trans actors into "actors" and "actresses" Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 13:53
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    Note that gender and gender identity are different things...even if the Academy doesn't acknowledge. One could actually argue that the whole male v female categories separation is rather antiquated. (One could argue the Academy in general is antiquated)
    – DA.
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 20:40
  • I don't know about the rest of the LGBT community but I myself find the word "queer" offensive. (Yes I am gay) Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 4:07
  • @ThisGuy sorry if I offend you anyhow, I never intended to but I can't think of any other word myself. Feel free to edit it if you have any suggestions.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 6:36

3 Answers 3


Unknown, currently.

This isn't an issue the Academy has to address yet, and they've not published any guidance on it. As so few people identify as transgender/gender-queer, and more importantly, almost no major films have cast transgender/gender-queer people in high profile roles.

The statistics all show a tendency for white men to get the most Oscar worthy roles. There's currently a huge debate about how to cast more women and non-white actors/actresses in these high profile roles. Until that imbalance is addressed, I think it is unlikely transgender and gender-queer people will become prominent in them - so I suspect this is an issue the Academy will not need to address for quite some time.

There have been two transgender composers nominated. But as that entire category is gender neutral, there was no controversy there.

I would suspect that transgender people would be nominated based on the gender they identified as. Whether that is the gender they identified as at the time of the film or the gender they identify as now is unknown - but I'd suspect the more controversial the candidate, the less likely an elderly, white Academy selection committee is to nominate them.

For gender-queer, we have absolutely no idea. They may just choose a category and if the person rejects the category, ignore them. Of course, this is all just speculation - we just don't know.

A further point of interest is that there is a number of articles suggesting making the Oscars gender neutral. However, whilst many feminists are in favour of this, many others are not, as the evidence suggests the representation of women and non-white actors at the Oscars would simply diminish. Consider the gender neutral Best Director award. In the 85-year history of the Academy Awards, only 4 females have been nominated with just 1 winner - Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

So, whilst creating gender neutral Awards could help the Academy recognise a transgender or gender-queer person in future, it would also likely strongly increase the amount of white men winning the awards - so along with the positives, there are some very strong negatives to any move the Academy could potentially make here

  • The Official Screen Credits form, which producers must submit in order for their films to be eligible for nominations, requires that the acting awards be split between "actors" and "actresses". So the categorization is made at the level of the producer/distributor, not by the Academy itself. Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 20:09
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    As a follow-up: Asia Kate Dillon will be submitted for consideration as "Best Supporting Actor" for an Emmy this year, for their work on Showtime's Millions. They identify as non-binary, so Showtime consulted with them on whether they preferred to be submitted in the "actor" or "actress" category. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 12:12

As of July 14, 2021, the Academy has said that there is no gender requirement for the categories of actor and actress. Melissa BLock, "Best Actor or Actress? Gender-Expansive Performers are Forced to Choose", All Things Considered (NPR):

Dillon challenged the organization that runs the Emmys, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, to explain in which category they, as a nonbinary actor, would fit. The Academy's reply? Go ahead and enter whichever Emmy category you prefer, actor or actress. There's no gender requirement for either category, the Academy explained.

This seems to be a slight change from their approach from 2016. Then, the Academy considered Kelly Mantle both as a supporting actor and as a supporting actress. Kristopher Tapley, "Gender-Fluid Actor Kelly Mantle Makes Oscar History":

In submitting eligibility materials to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the film’s producers sought both supporting actor and supporting actress consideration for gender-fluid actor Kelly Mantle. The Academy granted the request, setting a historic precedent.


A character in The Crying Game (1992) is treated as a woman for the majority of the film, but was played by a man.

When this actor was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards many people considered it a spoiler.

So to answer your question, most awards shows will go by the gender of the actor, and if they feel a need, they will assign one. It is possible they will use the gender the person identifies as, but it has yet to happen, so who knows?

Update: Not about the Oscar specifically, but for the Emmys, an article on Asia Kate Dillon says:

Dillon was surprised to learn that Academy rules say that “anyone can submit under either category for any reason,” says Dillon. “The Academy supports anyone’s choice to do that, and the Academy is not going to do any sort of check,” Dillon says. Indeed, Emmy rules for the acting categories do not specify gender qualification, saying simply “for a continuing performance in a regular series.”

Both Asia and their character identify as gender nonbinary. It's possible that the Oscars will take a similar approach.

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    I don't think this applies, since it's only a role and the actor himself is not transgender. If Lady Chablis got nominated for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that's a different story. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:51
  • It just shows they insist on boxes. Rather than try to establish the gender of the character, they used the gender of the actor, which may not have been appropriate. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:53
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    Because they nominate actors for the roles, not just the roles. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 15:54
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    Interesting bit from the wiki link: The Chicago Film Critics Association nominated them as an actor and an actress. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 9:22

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