This is a big step for inclusivity in the Canadian film industry.
A gender-fluid 11-year-old actor from Vancouver has been deemed eligible to enter into both male and female performance categories for a Canadian award show.
Ameko Eks Mass Carroll, star of the short film "Limina," will be making Canadian history by being able to be considered for both categories at the Leo Awards, a project of the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of British Columbia.
Ameko Eks Mass Carroll.
"We are proud to join our colleagues at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognizing the importance of inclusivity when honouring artistic excellence," Walter Daroshin, Chair of the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of British Columbia and President of the Leo Awards, said in a statement.
According to a press release, the Leo Awards made the decision to allow submission into both categories after gender-fluid performer Kelly Mantle, a former contestant on "RuPaul's Drag Race," became the first actor to be submitted and considered for an Academy Award nomination in both the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories for their role in "Confessions of a Womanizer."
Joshua M. Ferguson, a co-director and co-producer (alongside partner Florian Halbedl) on "Limina" who identifies as a non-binary trans person, said one of the purposes of the film is to make a cultural intervention to highlight trans diversity.
"As a non-binary filmmaker, it is especially encouraging that the Leo Awards is acknowledging gender-fluid performers by making history with this decision," Ferguson said in a press release. "This is a clear statement to the Canadian Film and TV industry, and the general public, in recognizing the importance of gender diversity inclusivity.
"Trans people make significant contributions both behind and in front of the camera and they need to be seen and heard. It is an affirming moment for trans youth and adults, especially younger performers entering into the industry unaware of how they will fit with their non-binary identity. The Leos are now at the forefront in an industry that should always strive for representing diversity. Hopefully this decision will open up the important conversation at union levels, other awards, organizations and granting agencies across the country to strive for inclusivity in the industry when it comes to trans people and diversity," they concluded.
Ameko Eks Mass Carroll in "Limina."
According to GenderDiversity.org, gender-fluid people do not feel restricted to being male or female, masculine or feminine, or even androgynous, at one particular time. At any given time they may identify as male, female, neutrois or any other non-binary identity or a combination of identities depending on different circumstances.
Carroll, who was assigned male at birth, identifies as a boy on some days, a girl on some days, and at times as neither boy or girl. The young performer thanked the Leo Awards for being inclusive and making gender-fluid people feel welcome.
"I would love to give the Leo Awards a ginormous thanks for making people under the trans umbrella feel more welcomed in the world," Carroll said. "The courage that I got being on the set of 'Limina' showed me that I should always feel confident the way I am and that I should not hide the truth."
"Orange is the New Black" star Ruby Rose is also gender-fluid.
Other performers who have come out as gender-fluid include "Orange is the New Black" star Ruby Rose.
In a 2015 interview with Elle magazine, the Australian explained what gender fluidity meant to her.
"Gender fluidity is not really feeling like you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other," they said. "For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which — in my perfect imagination — is like having the best of both sexes. I have a lot of characteristics that would normally be present in a guy and then less that would be present in a woman. But then sometimes I’ll put on a skirt — like today."
Ultimately, Rose wants people to live authentic lives and be true to themselves.
"The takeaway is that only you know who you were born to be," Rose told Elle, "and you need to be free to be that person."