Our society is ever-evolving in its perceptions and its viewpoints, and there has never been a more accepting time of areas once so misunderstood. We as a nation en masse, are so rightly opening-up to the education of sensitive subjects and recognising the need to inform ourselves more acutely in order for us to move forward as an inclusive culture. That being said, we still have work to do.
At Voquent we are extremely proud to be able to offer a new functionality for our clients. Going forward, they can choose from a range of Non-binary voice actor audio samples. But when it comes to complex issues such as a person’s gender identity, how are we embracing this in the wider community?
The rise in awareness around subjects such as sexuality and gender which stretch beyond the simple ‘A or B’ checkboxes, is noticeably growing. Subjects once unjustly deemed as ‘taboo’ or even downright illegal are being pulled apart and diminished (albeit at a stubborn rate), however the progression forward is positive. This can be seen in the progressive changes made in Germany this year. They recently made headlines by their decision to adopt the 3rd category of intersex on official documents and registers, marking them the first country in the world to do so.
Intersex is the term given to describe people who are born with both male and female sex characteristics. These can appear at birth or develop later in life. Completely separate from a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, many intersex people face legal discrimination and stigmas around their genetic makeup. Germany’s decision to make such moves puts them strides ahead in allowing this community to feel a sense of acceptance. By allowing such changes to be made on official documentation, this can only serve to quash the negativity and ignorance held by some. Making the term ‘intersex’ no more atypical to us as male or female, must be a real eureka moment for the intersex community, and surely offer a sense of restored faith in societies advances.
The UN claims around 1.7% of the population are born with intersex traits. This equates to roughly 131 million people in the world (which is about the same as the number of people with red hair!).
It’s no surprise then that this move made by Germany seems both positive, yet somewhat puzzling as to why it wasn’t made sooner. It begs the question as to how many other countries will follow suit? Granted, Austria’s constitutional court made a similar ruling to Germany’s back in June 2017, while Australia, New Zealand, Malta, India and Canada have all passed measures to redress issues facing intersex people. However, it seems we still have a way to go for the rest of the world to do the same.
That being said, simple matters such as applying for jobs or filling out questionnaires have begun to show growing signs of inclusivity when it comes to gender identity in many parts of the world. For instance, sites such as OkCupid and Facebook now both offer custom gender identities on forms to include a variety of options such as terms like ‘androgynous’. Additionally, here in the UK we recently added the gender-neutral title, Mx to many of our government forms and banks alongside the usual ‘Mr, Ms, Mrs etc’.
As we touched upon earlier, we at Voquent have cause to celebrate with our new non-binary voice actor offering. Voquent’s Managing Director Miles Chicoine says of the changes, ‘”We’re proud to be recognising and representing artists who don’t identify as being male or female because Voquent’s ethos has always been about exploring uniqueness and diversity. Until now, non-binary voice over artists have either been hidden or misrepresented because no database, agency or platform in the industry has ever taken the necessary steps to distinguish this most fundamental human attribute. We hope that leading by example compels other companies in this industry to start following suit.”
The talented Zee Andrews is the first actor on Voquent to offer non-binary voice overs, and we expect this increase considerably over time as new voices from all around the world are joining our roster on a daily basis.
The term Non-binary is used to describe an individual who in most or all cases does not identify themselves as ‘him or her’. The topic isn’t widely researched so it makes it difficult to determine accurate statistics, however Practicalandrogyny.com found around 0.4% of the UK alone would identify themselves as non-binary, when given a three option choice to pick between male, female or another description (however this could vary when questions are alternatively phrased).
It is said we tend to develop a sense of gender identification around the ages of three – seven, however many non-binary individuals may struggle to articulate this at this young age. This could be due to many social and environmental factors such as lack of visibility around the topic in day to day life, as well as the scarce number of role models in the mainstream media. However this again is having a positive transformation, with the success of actors such as Asia Kate Dillon raising the profile. Asia gained critical acclaim playing the role of Brandy Epps in popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black, amongst other high-profile onscreen roles such as Taylor Mason in the TV Drama series Billions.
Non-binary is non-linear and doesn’t have one finite definition. Other terms used to describe this unique and diverse gender include gender-fluid, inter-gender or agender. A person may feel substantially male one day yet may feel more comfortable expressing female identities on others. In a recent Netflix video, Lauchlan Watson described gender as ‘just like walking straight in the woods and not knowing where I’m going’.
Asia Kate Dillon isn’t alone in pioneering awareness of this growing community, with esteemed actor Ruby Rose or Lachlan Watson from the new ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ both casting a magnifying glass on this and raising the profile within mainstream media. With the number of people willing to open up about gender identity on the rise, can we really afford not to develop our own understanding in our businesses and look at ways in which we could acknowledge this in our day to day business practices?
With the ever-growing number of individuals feeling more comfortable divulging their non-binary gender type and opening up to a wider audience where they may once have felt discouraged, it’s imperative that we as media outlets and eminent big business names, who have a prevalent voice in today’s society, do our utmost in supporting and shedding light on a lesser explored subject area.
If more and more public figures, institutions and businesses embrace gender identification rights, then the current shadowed-view may well become as much a generic or normalised part of society, that the terms male and female have become to us.
So why choose a Non-binary voice actor?
For decades, traditional media has been fighting a battle for exposure and worldwide adoption of social media has forced companies everywhere to find new ways to hold the attention of their markets. We’ve seen this in the increasing volume of companies looking for voice overs that perform in Neutral sounding accents but also in requests for voices that simply sound different or unusual enough to stand out from the crowd.
It’s not uncommon for non-binary voices to have distinct qualities that are hard to place and that itself can be just what’s needed to hold the attention of your audience for even just a fraction of a moment longer.
There are some who also seek a non-binary voice because of the associations and alignment of values that are embraced by more thoughtful and considerate approaches to workplace and living cultures. If you want to demonstrate a commitment to fostering a more inclusive society, a non-binary voice may well help symbolise those values in your broadcasts and communication.
For more information on our non-binary function, or to explore our audio samples from our comprehensive roster of voice-artists, click here!
We are truly passionate about increasing and accelerating audience engagement with captivating voice acting and are helping companies all over the world in achieving this. Contact us today – we would be delighted to help you do the same. Visit us here to find out other ways in which we can help your business meet it’s ever evolving day to day needs.