Should the Oscars remove their gendered categories?

Award shows have been embracing gender-neutral award-giving for the past decade, and the Oscars are encouraged to do the same

The binary award categories of the Oscars could misgender nonbinary actors, regardless if they have “come out” or not. Instead of blaming the host for misgendering them, The Oscars as a whole should be at fault because they continue to abide by the gender binary award-winning standards. 

Since 1929, the Oscars have been nominating male and female actors for their excellent acting, and films for their outstanding plots and visuals. Marking its first centurial anniversary in about 6 years, this year during the 2023 awards, the Oscars nominated Brendan Fraser from The Whale (December 2022), and Michelle Yeoh from Everything Everywhere All at Once (March 2022).

EEAAO contains a queer attribute to it; Joy (played by Stephanie Hsu), the rebellious daughter, is openly gay and wants to introduce her girlfriend to her parents. However, her mother (played by the nominated actress, Michelle Yeoh) is reluctant to accept her queerness, referring to her girlfriend as “he” before being corrected. Similarly, The Whale also includes queer representation; the main character, Charlie (played by the nominated actor, Brendan Fraser) – who is a morbidly obese English teacher – is gay. The entirety of the film follows the path of not only trying to reconnect with his “estranged” daughter (played by Sadie Sink) but of self-acceptance as well. 

What these films both have in common is LGBTQIA+ representation, of course, and the diversity in their path(s) of life. Joy wanted acceptance/validation from her parents, as Charlie wanted the same but for himself and his daughter. As films including gay representation increase in attention, Hollywood and its stars also come forward about their true identities; Demi Lovato came out as nonbinary in May of 2021, Dove Cameron came out as bisexual in 2020, and Luke Evans came out as gay in as early as 2002, etc. If this change is made, it will be recognized by (almost) the entire country, shifting opinions in every Oscars Award watcher, including celebrities who would and wouldn’t support it. 

Other award-winning shows have already met the expectation of ridding the binary standard, such as the Grammys, the Spirit Awards, and the Canadian Screen Awards. Supposedly, the Oscars already have a gender-neutral section, but they still continue to binate their awards as of this year, 2023.  

As more and more awards are given, LGBTQIA+ representation is explored as well. It creates a new, strong diversity in Hollywood that hasn’t been shown enough. From popular actors such as Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give, 2018) coming out as nonbinary in 2016 and then Demi Lovato 4 years later, the face of Hollywood is always changing. 

Unfortunately, mainstream representation has stagnated, as the top-nomination award categories in the Oscars remain binary, unlike other shows such as the Grammys. Hopefully, the Oscars can remove the gender binary by next year’s awards. Making awards gender-neutral would actually produce a systemic change; it leaves the gender-binary award categories behind, bringing in stars who don’t affiliate with the common genders feeling a little more validated.