Vogue apologized for calling Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik “gender fluid”

Vogue received some serious and well-deserved backlash after releasing its August cover on Thursday. The cover features Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik as “gender bending” fashion icons, along with a story titled “Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Part of a New Generation Embracing Gender Fluidity.” Vogue refers to both as “embracing gender fluidity” because they borrow clothes from each other’s closets:

"I shop in your closet all the time, don't I?" Hadid, 22, flicks a lock of dyed-green hair out of her boyfriend's eyes as she poses the question. "Yeah, but same," replies Malik, 24. "What was that T-shirt I borrowed the other day?"

The issue? Vogue misrepresents what it’s like to be gender fluid and the struggles gender fluid people experience.

These identities aren’t new. Jacob Tobia, a genderqueer writer and producer summarizes their experience for Cosmopolitan:

"Unlike how this new Vogue cover shoot presents it, the lived experience of being gender-nonconforming is rarely that fun and glamorous... It looks like being spit on in public, or like being terrified to leave the house because the night before, someone on the subway yelled that you should be set on fire. On an average walk through New York City in a dress, I will receive anywhere between 10 and 20 slurs."

The article glamorizes gender-nonconforming and nonbinary identities in a way that makes them look trendy instead of looking at the people who actually identify this way. Most importantly, Gigi and Zayn may be eschewing fashion norms that come with the gender binary, but they’re not actually gender fluid. That identity is not something new to try on, and most of all it is not just a fashion statement. Gender-fluid and gender queer people are human beings, not fads.

Luckily, Vogue is listening, and a spokeswoman issued the following statement:

"The story was intended to highlight the impact the gender-fluid, non-binary communities have had on fashion and culture. We are very sorry the story did not correctly reflect the spirit — we missed the mark. We do look forward to continuing the conversation with greater sensitivity."

The headline of the article has also been updated to read, “Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Part of a New Generation Who Don’t See Fashion as Gendered.”

Queer identities have been around for a long time. We need to treat people who defy the gender binary with respect and understand there are real people who identify differently. We’re especially hoping that this mistake leads to an important and necessary conversation about gender identity.

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