io tillett wright, What's Underneath
A Boy, A Girl, A Gender Revolutionary

We’re posting two new What’s Underneath episodes this week, and each story valiantly confronts the boundaries of gender identity in today’s society.

First up is Self Evident Truths founder, iO Tillett Wright. Having seen iO's powerful Ted Talk, we were completely psyched to hear more details from his unique perspective of growing up free from gender restrictions. As poised in his preppy tartan trousers and starched-white button-down as he is in his androgynous skin, iO doesn’t tolerate bullshit from anybody. At 6, when the boys wouldn’t let him — a “girl” — play soccer with them, iO responded, “Fuck that, I’m a boy. Can I play now? Because I can play better than you, motherfucker!” iO’s parents, as ALL PARENTS SHOULD, accepted their kid’s new gender — as iO tells it, “I feel like a man on the inside yet, because I was never forced into dresses or any of that shit, I don't have the narrative that apparently goes with being transgender where you hate your body. I don't hate my body at all. I don't fit that box. I never fit any fucking box. I'm like the ultimate fucking unicorn.”

At a sleepover, the 11-year-old "unicorn" was hounded by a girl who couldn’t understand why this “boy” wasn’t trying to holler at her. Later on, iO won the heart of the hottest “straight” girl in his England boarding school who showed the arty Bowery kid what a shower was, how to shave his legs, and his own body. We love how iO's ease with his own transgenderism — “that physical in-between place” — gives him the limitless compassion of a true revolutionary. For us, it was revelatory when iO pointed out that the The Machine is anyone who makes someone feel less-than for not conforming: “If you feel like you need that Birkin bag, get the Birkin bag. You have your own voyage to discover what makes you feel good. But when you put that shit on other people, you become The Machine.”

Indeed, iO’s viewpoint has the sharpness of his combat boots and the insight of his Ivy League tortoise shell specs. To see iO in action, watch his What’s Underneath episode above.

Elisa + Lily

iO's video was shot and edited by Andrea Cruz
What's Underneath is produced by Elisa, Lily, & Mona
Follow iO on Instagram: @iolovesyou
Follow iO on Twitter: @ilovesyou
Follow Self Evident Truths on Twitter: @SelfEvidentProj
Follow them on Instagram: @selfevidentproject

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  • Sienna Burke

    So I wouldn't call someone it, but what does io prefer to be called? A he or a she? Why do people place so much weight on gender? If you're female, you are female. Wanna act like a boy, go for it. Who cares? But this craziness, " gender fluidity"? Come on! Human, animals, fish- all have a gender. It's ok. Nothing to be ashamed of. There's too much attention on gender, color and what you do in bed. Homo vs hetero. We don't care. Don't try to make us care. Just be/ do whoever, whatever, and keep it to yourself. No one cares.

    • Fore

      For someone who doesn't care, you surely took some time to write that comment! 🙂 A good way to refer to someone who doesn't fit the gender binary is as 'they' or just call them by their name until you know what they prefer to be called. Humans care about these things because humans think differently to animals. Besides, how do you know that animals don't care? FYI clownfish, wrasses, moray eels, gobies and other fish species do change sex..maybe not for the same reasons but hey, I guess animals don't have to live with systemic oppression like humans do... unless they're oppressed by humans. One of the reasons why people are so vocal about gender, sex, equality etc. these days is because these issues were repressed for so long, making it seem like they don't exist when they do. Talking about these things makes them real and it helps people who go through them feel less alone. I could give you a piece of your own advice and tell you that if you don't care, just don't care and keep it to yourself, but that's oppression and you also deserve your opinion! Peace!

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