The Emmys are taking a step into the future.
On Monday, the Television Academy's Board of Governors approved a new rule change that opens the door for nonbinary and gender-nonconforming actors to be recognized for their performances.
The new rule allows anyone nominated in an actor or actress category to "request that their nomination certificate and Emmy statuette carry the term 'Performer' in place of Actor or Actress" according to Deadline.
The change is in place for the current 2021 Emmy Awards season, meaning that a performer could choose the distinction this year.
The Academy added that "no performer category titled 'Actor' or 'Actress' has ever had a gender requirement for submissions. Now, nominees and (or) winners in any performer category titled 'Actor' or 'Actress' may request that their nomination certificate and Emmy statuette carry the term 'Performer' in place of Actor or Actress."
Nonbinary performers have been asking for years for changes like this. Back in 2020, John Wick and Billions star Asia Kate Dillon sent an open letter to the Screen Actors Guild asking them to take "immediate action to combine your acting awards into gender-neutral categories."
"Separating people based on their assigned sex, and/or their gender identity, is not only irrelevant when it comes to how an acting performance should be judged, it is also a form of discrimination," Dillon wrote at the time. They had also previously worked with the Emmy board on making a similar move.
At the time, the Emmy board told Dillon that performers can enter "either category for any reason," but Dillon still wanted an end to gendered categories. They also were the first person to present a gender-neutral acting award at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards, when Emma Watson was awarded for Beauty and the Beast.
Other organizations are already way ahead of the Emmys. Last year, the Berlin Film Festival announced that its acting awards would be gender-neutral, and GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics recently voted to make the performance categories in its Dorian TV Awards gender-neutral as well.
This year's Emmys will be held on September 21, and nominations will be announced July 13.
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