Australian model Ruby Rose Langenheim, who is also an actress, has thrown a spanner in the gender works. Talking with Net-A-Porter’s fashion magazine The Edit about her struggles with her identity growing up, she said she was glad she did not have gender reassignment surgery because now she is happy to be a woman and wants children of her own.
Yes, that’s what the lady said. In her own words, as reported by The Daily Mail (whose fact-checking seems to be rigorous): “I’m a woman,’ she said. ‘I want to have babies one day, so I’m glad I didn’t make changes earlier in my life.”
In view of the ascendant theory — that transgender children are “born that way” and should be conducted along it with tolerance, hormones and eventually the knife – 30-year-old Ruby Rose is an inconvenient fact: an individual who spent her childhood playing footie with the boys and wanting like anything to be one of them, who now finds happiness in being a woman.
Not your everyday kind of woman, to be sure. An androgynously pretty individual who came out as a lesbian at the age of 12, Rose’s sexuality has long been a subject of public comment. She reportedly made straight women swoon when she began starring in 2015 in the Netflix prison drama Orange Is The New Black. She is currently dating singer Jessica Origliasso and they may get “married”.
Then again, according to Wikipedia, she is “genderfluid”, as she announced in mid-2014 after starring in the movie Break Free, in which she starts as a very feminine woman and ends as a heavily tattooed man. She wakes up every day “sort of gender neutral,” she said then. She did not feel like she should have been born with different body parts. She preferred a feminine pronoun. “I think at this stage I will stay a woman but … who knows. I’m so comfortable right now I feel wonderful about it, but I also fluctuate a lot.”
Some of the LGBT community were not happy with the attention Rose attracted in her role in Orange Is The New Black. They said that social media chatter about “going gay for Ruby Rose” reinforced the idea that sexuality is a choice and is homophobic. The feminist website Jezebel opined that homosexuality and bisexuality are not simply identities one can assume to show off one’s liberal credentials, but are rather “built into a person’s biology.”
Rose for her part told Cosmopolitan that the “go gay” people were just being nice and not meaning to detract from a serious decision to come out with a different sexuality.
“My sense is definitely more lighthearted and neutral on it,” she explained. “I think people are just saying that to be complimentary. I don’t think anyone’s doing it to be derogatory or to take away from what it really means to come out and identify as a different sexuality than what people will think you are … Maybe 10 years ago, people would watch someone onscreen that they would be attracted to, but they wouldn’t be able to make a funny meme and say, ‘Oh my god, I’m gay!’ because that would be so frowned upon.”
“I, personally, think that the moments we try to nitpick who can and can’t say that they are genderqueer or gender-neutral or trans, or who’s gay or who’s bi — who are we to tell other people how they can live their lives and what they can tweet and what they can say?” she continued. “It’s really none of our business. I think we should let people go and say what they want to.” And after all, she argues, that’s a show of support that should be something the LGBT community (and any straight/questioning allies!) should be happy to put out there.
Such fluid feelings and opinions are obviously very unsatisfactory for people bent on making the case that whatever gender proclivities you display at age 3 are innate and yours for life. The fact is, however, that most children with gender dysphoria grow out of it – if they get the chance, and if Ruby Rose had been born 20 years later she may not have.
Carolyn Moynihan is Deputy Editor of MercatorNet.