Gender fluid Kelly Mantle makes Oscars history by becoming first performer to be eligible for male and female categories

Kelly Mantle has become the first person able to be nominated in both male and female Oscar categories.

Mantle has had almost 20 years performing in the movie industry, and is best known as a contestant on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and playing a transgender prostitute in Confessions of a Womanizer (2014).

Photo by NYPAA
Photo by NYPAA

While granting the request for a performer to be eligible in both male and female categories is a massive happy moment, it ironically highlights the current narrow representation of diversity in the movie industry.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, upon filling out paperwork regarding the Oscar-eligibility for Confessions of a Womanizer, the producers couldn’t list Mantle as male or female.

“The film’s backers, when filling out the paperwork required by the Academy to confirm Oscar eligibility, arrived at the acting submissions section and faced a conundrum: The organization asks for performers to be listed under ‘male’ or ‘female.’ Mantle was submitted under both, the Academy confirms to THR, and ‘can be nominated in either category,’” The Hollywood Reporter says.

Including Time Magazine’s decision to change their famous Man of the Year title to Person of the Year, the past couple of decades have had a lot of controversy surrounding gender and feminism.

Undoubtedly challenging the very construct of gender by renegotiating its own values, the Oscar’s historical move surfaces many questions about the integrity of dividing award categories into male and female. Perhaps, the traditional dichotomy of male and female identity is not so compatible in the entertainment industry anymore, where diversity only seems to be growing.

Is it fair to other performers that a person can be nominated in both male and female categories? Should gendered awards be eliminated altogether?

While there is still a long way to go for inclusivity in the movie industry, we’re stoked to see that changes are starting to happen.

While you’re here, check out our list of Aussie girl drummers who pound their kits like beasts.