Creative communities are often the earliest adopters of progressive thought. They’re usually the first ones to expand parameters of what’s deemed societally “acceptable,” and to blur boundary lines in the name of innovation.
We’ve entered an exciting age of gender complexity, and it’s playing out in imagery — with brands and media leading the charge by spotlighting those individuals who transcend the binary labels of “man” and “woman.”
Here are the top pop culture moments that have recently redefined notions of gender, and the brands who are embracing this evolution.
Gender forward entertainment
Laverne Cox has become perhaps the most visible trans woman on screen, thanks to her Emmy-nominated role as Sophia Burset in the hit show, Orange is the New Black, and her groundbreaking TIME magazine cover last May. She has also co-hosted The View, presented her own transgender teen documentary series on MTV called The T Word, and will play a transgender attorney as co-star of the forthcoming legal drama, Doubt.
Broadway behemoth Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical about a rock band fronted by a transgender singer, and ticket sales are through the roof. It racked up four Tony awards last year, including Best Revival of a Musical, and Best Actor in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris.
Model Andrej Pejic was already famous for her androgynous beauty, when known as a male model, and made headlines again when she announced her transition to becoming Andreja Pejic last summer.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have publically supported their daughter Shiloh’s desire to dress as a boy. In December, they announced that Shiloh would now like to be addressed as John.
This year kicked off with the new Amazon show, Transparent, winning Golden Globes for Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy, and Best Actor for star Jeffrey Tambor’s sensitive portrayal as male-bodied Mort transitioning to her true identity as a woman named Maura.
Gold medal Olympian and Kardashian patriarch, Bruce Jenner, has taped an interview with Diane Sawyer wherein he will allegedly reveal his transition to womanhood.
Hit TV show Glee has been forwarding conceptions of gender for years now, and featured a transgender character named Unique Adams in their 3rd season. They’re continuing the trailblazing in their current 6th season via a storyline wherein coach Shannon Beiste undergoes a female-to-male gender journey. A recent episode titled Transitioning featured a 200 person all-trans choir – thought to be the largest gathering of transgender people ever on screen.
Gender Fluid Brands
Barneys New York festooned their famous windows with their Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters spring 2014 campaign. It featured photographs of transgender models and their families shot by the legendary Bruce Weber.
Marriot’s #LoveTravels campaign features transgender model and activist Geena Rocero. Rocero also made waves recently with her powerful presentation about self-acceptance for TED Talks.
Conchita Wurst won hearts and opened minds when as a bearded, begowned genderblender s/he won the Eurovision Song Contest. Parrot hired Conchita to be their spokesmodel for their Zik 2.0 headphones campaign last fall.
Redken announced that Brazilian transgender beauty Lea T would be their new “muse” and model in November. She is considered the world’s first transgender spokeswoman for a global cosmetics brand.
Equinox Gyms put a new spin on the usual New Year’s resolution ads by featuring gender blurring models looking fit and liberated in their “Equinox Made Me Do It” commercial.
The fashion world has kicked off 2015 with several instances of gender lines being crossed. Most notably, supermodel Cara Delevigne is featured in DKNY’s current menswear campaign.
UK department store Selfridges just announced Agender, a retail concept wherein they’ll be “offering customers a gender neutral shopping experience complete with non-gender specific collections of clothing and accessories” next month by completely reconfiguring three of their floors in their flagship location, and creating similar pop-up shops in other sites.See a selection of Pam’s favorite Genderblend images here