As transgender rights have progressed, British Columbia's annual screen industry celebration, the Leo Awards, has made a decision to keep up with social progress.
On January 26, the Leo Awards announced that it has accepted a request by a genderfluid performer to be submitted for consideration in both male and female performance categories.
Vancouver's Ameko Eks Mass Carroll played Alessandra in the short film "Limina", directed by Florian Halbedl and Joshua M. Ferguson.
Ferguson, who identifies as a non-binary trans person, pointed out that this historic decision within the Canadian film and TV industry will contribute to the recognition of diversity in screen industries.
“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 stated. "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.”
Meanwhile, 11-year-old actor Carroll, who uses he/him/his pronouns, identifies as a boy on some days and as a girl on others.
“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 stated in a news release. "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.”
His mother, Amber Carroll, explained the challenges that he faces in life.
“Ameko feels that being accepted in both categories is the next step towards letting people know how he feels confined by gender binary categories," she said. "Ameko finds the separation of boys and girls to be very frustrating not only in the field of acting but also when it comes to sports and recreational activities."
The Leo Awards decision follows a historic precedent made in the screen industry south of the border.
In 2016, the Academy Awards accepted a request from genderfluid actor Kelly Mantle to be considered in both male and female acting categories for the comedy-drama Confessions of a Womanizer.
In another example of gender fluidity in media, the career of Swedish model Erika Linder, who stars in the soon-to-be-released Canadian lesbian drama Below Her Mouth, took off when she began to pose for male campaigns.
Meanwhile, the deadline for submissions to the Leo Awards is fast approaching on February 1.