Asia Kate Dillon is leveraging their platform to urge the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) to take a “courageous and overdue” step forward.
The non-binary Billions star penned an open letter for Variety asking the organization to nix gender-specific categories in its annual award show. Dillon was recently asked to take part in the SAG Award’s picture nominating committee; however, they said they’d first like to see the actors’ union take action to support its non-binary and gender non-conforming members.
“If you Google my name and ’acting award categories,’ you will find I have been calling for an end to segregated acting categories,” Dillon wrote. “Separating people based on their assigned sex, and/or their gender identity, is not only irrelevant when it comes to how an acting performance should be judged, it is also a form of discrimination. Not only do your current categories erase non-binary identities… they also serve as an endorsement of the gender binary at large, which actively upholds other forms of discrimination, including racism, the patriarchy, and gender violence.”
The actor went on to reference a discussion they’d had with the Emmy board about gendered award categories back in 2017:
I asked [the board] to clarify if their actor and actress categories were intended to separate people based on assigned sex and/or gender identity. I was told that Emmy rules state that any performer can enter either category for any reason. Since the word actor (late 14c.) is a gender-neutral word meaning ’theatrical player, to do, to perform,’ and is the word I’ve always used to refer to myself, I asked to be submitted under supporting actor. When the Critic’s Choice Awards later took it upon themselves to nominate me within the supporting actor category, I felt respected in my identity. I now recognize, however, that being submitted or nominated within categories that reinforce the gender-binary should have been met with my outright rejection of those nominations, alongside calling for change.
Dillon also noted that there’s already a precedent for gender-neutral acting awards—namely, the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which adopted gender-free award categories years ago. (Dillon even presented the first gender-neutral acting award to Harry Potter star and LGBTQ ally Emma Watson back in 2017.)
“I would be thrilled to serve as a judge, provided you take immediate action to combine your acting awards into gender-neutral categories,” the actor concluded. “This courageous and overdue step from my union would send a wide message that SAG not only supports me but supports all its non-binary and gender non-conforming members.”
Read Dillon’s open letter in full here.