Bridey Heing
Updated June 17, 2015
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When the third season of Orange is the New Black hit Netflix over the weekend, one new character caught everyone’s attention. Stella, played by Australian actress Ruby Rose. Stella is a gender fluid inmate who has won pretty much everyone’s hearts, and started a really important conversation about gender fluidity.

Ruby Rose isn’t just playing a gender fluid character; she identifies as gender fluid in her own life, as well. Much like how Laverne Cox brought her own experiences as a transgender woman to the role of Sophia, the same can be said of Ruby Rose, who is channeling her own identity into Stella. Gender fluidity is something that’s not often discussed in the mainstream, which favors black-and-white dilineation between the sexes.

That’s why it’s great that a show as popular as OITNB is putting a gender fluid character front and center, and that Ruby Rose is speaking out about her own experiences in the media. On a show that explores sexuality and gender expression in a way few other shows have dared to, adding a gender fluid character is both bold and necessary. Over at Elle, Ruby Rose (best name ever BTW) took some time to share more about gender fluidity, why it’s important to represent gender fluid characters, and how she expresses her identity. Here are some of the highlights:

Ruby Rose on gender fluidity:

“Gender fluidity is not really feeling like you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other. For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which – in my perfect imagination – is like having the best of both sexes. I have a lot of characteristics that would normally be present in a guy and then less that would be present in a woman. But then sometimes I’ll put on a skirt.”

Ruby Rose on starting conversations:

“People are talking about gender fluidity more and more now because once someone opens a door to something like that, people put their hands up and say, “That’s me! That’s my friend! That’s my sister! That’s my mom!””

Ruby Rose on gender identity:

“There’s a line in OITNB where Stella is making fun of Piper, saying like ‘Ugh. Women – can’t live with them, can’t live without them.’ Piper’s like, ‘What? You don’t consider yourself to be a woman?’ Stella says, ‘I do, but that’s only because my options are limited.’ It’s a very small line, but what I really read from that is that she is a woman – obviously, she’s in a female prison – but if she had it her way, she probably wouldn’t be. But, what’s her option? To transition to a guy and then be in a men’s prison would be incredibly dangerous. The takeaway is that only you know who you were born to be, and you need to be free to be that person.”

To read the interview in full, visit Elle.