How I came out as ‘nonbinary’: the actor who plays a transgender character

I’m Brandon Kyle Goodman, actor who plays Mo in “Big Mouth” on Netflix. I’m based in Australia, but I’ve lived in the US for 16 years. I moved to LA after school to focus…

How I came out as ‘nonbinary’: the actor who plays a transgender character

I’m Brandon Kyle Goodman, actor who plays Mo in “Big Mouth” on Netflix.

I’m based in Australia, but I’ve lived in the US for 16 years. I moved to LA after school to focus on acting; I began working in film and TV, mostly in teen dramas and comedies. My best performance was in Breakout Kings, a show that was on the small screen for three seasons in the US. But I feel a lot of anxiety and sadness sometimes about my existence.

A lot of the time, there are conversations around gender identity that involve women and don’t address other pronouns. That can hurt my self-confidence because I’m transgender, a chameleon: I do everything gender-normative to look more attractive – I put on glasses when I want to act and wear a bobby pin when I want to play a boy. Being trans is not something that I’m ashamed of, but I have a lot of anxiety about it.

There are those who say: “Get over it”; they’re not there for me. For the last year or so, I’ve seen a few of them on stage at a male-only comedy event – afterwards they’d approach me with support, but they might react differently in a different situation. The sense of danger was high and I took a chance. But that kind of sexism is about power: it’s not about supporting people who aren’t like them.

Growing up, I always preferred to say I was “boy” rather than “girl”. I thought I was just playing the role of boy. But when I went to high school, and realised that as a boy, I was open to physically hurting boys, I felt much more comfortable saying I was “nonbinary” and not “woman”. I grew up in Oklahoma, and one summer I worked in a food truck making miniature hamburgers and hot dogs. My boss was a woman, she was funny and pretty, and she didn’t tolerate nonsense or pressure. She was an alien and a hero. When I moved to LA, she worked at the same McDonald’s restaurant as me. It was so supportive and encouraging. But she’s also extremely angry, which makes me wonder how much that anger is about gender – and how much it’s about security?

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I feel like the only thing we have to offer each other is humour. We have to grab people’s attention. Other nonbinary people who feel in the same situation are just going to perform or not participate at all. But there’s a huge audience for what we’re doing, and we have a presence to offer that’s unique to all the different identities. We don’t all want the same things or feel the same things, but that’s what’s really going to bring people to our performances. We’re fighting for visibility and for freedom. I just have a normal day and so do other nonbinary people. When I finally feel comfortable speaking out about my identity, I won’t talk about it to anyone else; I’ll just tell my mum and her like: “Here’s my penis.”

• “Big Mouth” is now on Netflix.

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