She-Ra and Lumberjanes creator ND Stevenson had a very transformative 2020. Their fan-favorite, groundbreaking animated series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power came to an end with an explosive and gay final season. They also came out as nonbinary (stipulating the use of he/she/they pronouns which we have implemented in this story,) got top surgery, and felt more like themself than they ever have before.
While it might seem like the show's end had nothing to do with his gender developments, Stevenson tells Out that actually it played a big part in his discoveries. He says the show and its “Girl Power” message taught him a lot about his own gender. “I felt like I had to present a certain way in order to sell this show,” they say. “And so it was always something where I'm like, ‘This stuff, gender, I can't think about this yet. There's too much going on. It's going to be all girl power all the time right now.’”
While they say that girl power is still “a part of me,” Stevenson is glad they don’t have to play a specific role anymore. “I went into an office, every day, I put together my outfit and I was like, ‘Will people respect me when I walk into a room like this? Is this going to make me look like the professional woman who's bad-ass and, and feminine and this and that and that?’”
Quarantining in their house with their wife Molly Knox Ostertag finally gave them a chance to see what they felt like when they didn’t have to perform gender for strangers.
“Suddenly this year, I'm not going anywhere, not even into a coffee shop. So I'm not worried about random people. I'm not worried necessarily about how I'm looking to the world at large,” she says. “And that actually really great gave me this little space to just be like, ‘Wait a second. I am still feeling these gender feelings.’”
“This is not a reaction to the world I'm in,” he continues, “This is not a reaction to the way I'm treated at work or at the coffee shop or on the street. This is something that is in my heart that has been growing and getting more intense. And these things that I want to explore about my gender, that's just a part of me.”
Stevenson realized that even when he was at home with just his wife, he wanted to be shirtless, and he still felt self-conscious about his chest. “And so realizing that I wanted top surgery, which had been this huge thing that I had been thinking about for years and years and years, suddenly it was like that hasn't gone away,” she says. “It's only gotten stronger, even when I'm just at home with my wife, and she's the only one who's seeing me.”
He’s happy where he is now, even if he knows that quarantine won’t last forever and he’ll have to interact with the outside world soon, but for now, he’s enjoying the journey. “It's nice to be able to spend this time just with myself and with the person who loves me and knows me the best and just figure out what makes me happy and what makes me feel like myself,” she says.
In a year of big accomplishments, Stevenson says getting top surgery was her most exciting one. “It's like taking off ankle weights you didn't know were there,” they say. “It's just like, oh my god, it has improved every single other aspect of my life and every single other part of my relationship to my own body and presentation has been seriously the best thing ever.”