In an historic move, British Columbia’s annual film and television awards, The Leo Awards, has accepted a gender-fluid performer’s request to be submitted in both male and female performance categories.

“We are proud to join our colleagues at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognizing the importance of inclusivity when honouring artistic excellence,” says Walter Daroshin, chair of the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of British Columbia and president of the Leo Awards.

Ameko Carroll becomes the first actor to be nominated in both the male and female performance categories at the Leo Awards
Ameko Carroll becomes the first actor to be nominated in both the male and female performance categories at the Leo Awards

Ameko Eks Mass Carroll, an eleven year-old Vancouver actor, stars as a gender-fluid protagonist in the short film Limina. Carroll, who herself identifies as gender-fluid, identifies as a boy some days, a girl on others, and on some days as neither. As a result, their performance has been submitted for both male and female performance categories at the Leo Awards this year.

“I would love to give the Leo Awards a ginormous thanks for making people under the trans umbrella feel more welcomed in the world,” says Carroll. “The courage that I got being on the set of Limina showed me that I should always feel confident the way I am and that I should not hide the truth.”

Carroll’s mother, Amber Carroll, supports their decision. “Ameko feels that being accepted in both categories is the next step towards letting people know how he feels confined by gender binary categories. Ameko finds the separation of boys and girls to be very frustrating not only in the field of acting but also when it comes to sports and recreational activities.”

The Leo Awards decision follows a precedent set in the United States last year. In a similarly historic move, actor Kelly Mantle became the first performer to be submitted into both male and female performance categories at the Academy Awards. Mantle has been nominated for their role of a transgender prostitute in Confessions of a Womanizer.

Limina is co-directed by Joshua M. Ferguson, who identifies as a non-binary trans person.

“This is a clear statement to the Canadian film and television industry, and the general public, in recognizing the importance of gender diversity inclusivity,” says Ferguson. “Trans people make significant contributions both behind and in front of the camera and they need to be seen and heard. It is an affirming moment for trans youth and adults, especially younger performers entering into the industry unaware of how they will fit with their non-binary identity.”

Ferguson is hopeful the move by the Leo Awards will open the conversation for others in the industry.

The date for the 2017 Leo Awards has yet to be announced.