The American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live recently made history when it announced that comedian Molly Kearney would be joining its cast for Season 48. Kearney, who uses they/them pronouns, is the first non-binary cast member in SNL’s history. Before joining the SNL cast, Kearney appeared on Amazon Prime’s summer hit A League of Their Own. They were also selected for Comedy Central’s Up Next in 2019, which showcases new comedians from across the country. Kearney joins an alumni of openly queer SNL performers in recent years, including cast members Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, and Punkie Johnson.
To be non-binary means that a person does not fall under a catergory of being male or female. Several identities fall under this umbrella, including labels like gender queer, agender, and bigender.
For the most part, all has been well for the comedian leading up to the season premiere. They expressed their excitement in an Instagram story on September 15, writing “Head exploding!! Thanks for all the love everyone.” Still, reporting about Kearney reveals a familiar pattern of non-binary and transgender celebrities being misgendered by the media. An article from Marca, a Spanish newspaper, covers the fact that Kearney has made history by becoming the first non-binary comedian on SNL, but continually refers to Kearney as “she”.
Kearney is not the only celebrity that has been misidentified by the media in recent years. In 2019, singer and songwriter Sam Smith came out as non-binary. Like Kearney, Smith uses they/them pronouns. Despite the outpouring of support Smith received, there were still some fans and media outlets that failed to properly identify them. Similarly, actor Elliot Page came out as non-binary and transgender in 2020. Page uses he/they pronouns. Page has been seen on screens for years in TV shows and movies such as Juno and The Umbrella Academy.