Elle United Kingdom is making history with its June issue, featuring its first non-binary model on the cover, Olly Eley.
In the accompanying article, Eley writes a powerful essay explaining her gender.
“After years of despising the body I was born with, unable to relate in any way to the gender assigned to me at birth, I had finally found a way of existing in the world that made sense to me,” Eley writes. “I have never felt like a woman, but neither have I felt like a man. If there were a thin line connecting the two genders, it would be a floating point somewhere between the two, but not tied to the line entirely. It’s the only way I can describe it. “
The Australian-British model also describes how it felt to hear someone referred to by the pronouns “they / they” for the first time.
“Before moving to Sydney, I didn’t have the language or the role models to understand how I was feeling. I never really had a chance to consider that ‘gender’ could be something that I could control if I wanted to. Once I moved to the city, everything changed. My mind was opened and flooded with light: there was this whole queer community that I had no idea existed. When someone first introduced me with their name and the pronouns ‘they / they’, I felt very safe. Wow, that’s the answer to everything right now, I thought, “they write.
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Eley also addresses her decision not to undergo a surgical transformation. “There are countless different surgeries that some trans people choose to have in order to feel more comfortable in their bodies; for me I feel so disconnected from any gender that no body will ever feel perfect. I chose not to have a full ‘top surgery’ [a mastectomy], since that body would not have served me either. Instead I wanted the option to link [a method of compressing the chest to give a flatter appearance] and my chest size previously meant that I couldn’t do it effectively. So I had a reduction to give me that control over my appearance, ”they write.
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“I tie myself not because I am ashamed of my body, but because the autonomy of doing so makes me feel safe,” they continue. “I’m not ‘fluent’ when I switch between genders and pronouns. I am agender [devoid of gender altogether] and what I do with my body, be it naked or in a full snowsuit, it doesn’t change. I have accepted that I am a non-binary person living in a binary world (which I have every intention of interrupting!). “
Eley also reflects on becoming a role model for trans and non-binary children. “When someone is neither, both or all of the above in terms of their gender, like me, people can get defensive and be reluctant to accept that there is such a gray area,” they explain. “I wish I had known that it was okay to exist in this ‘in-between’ place when I was growing up. I wish someone had told me that I could be who I wanted to be, do whatever I wanted and that I was so valid and important. Trans and non-binary children need to hear that they are beautiful and worthy of love and a full life. ‘
The June issue of Elle United Kingdom It is on sale from May 6.