Lily Gladstone Speaks On Using She/They Pronouns To Connect To Indigenous Heritage

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Lily Gladstone uses she/they pronouns — and has rather educational reasons for it.

The “Killers of the Flower Moon” star revealed Sunday in an interview with People that her Indigenous heritage — she has Blackfeet and Nez Perce ancestry — taught her to rethink pronouns at an early age.

“I remember being 9 years old and just being a little disheartened, seeing how often a lot of my boy cousins were misgendered because they wore their hair long,” Gladstone, 37, told the outlet. “It happens to a lot of kids, I think, especially Native boys … getting teased for it.”

“So I remember back then being like, everybody should just be they,” she said.

Gladstone added that most Indigenous languages use only “they” pronouns and that the gender of Blackfeet members “is implied” in their name. She also noted that even this isn’t binary, however, as Gladstone’s grandfather was named “Iron Woman” despite his gender.

“I wouldn’t say that he was nonbinary in gender, but he was given a woman’s name because he kind of carried himself, I guess, the way that women who have that name do,” Gladstone said.

“And there were lots of women historically and still now who are given men’s names,” she continued. “They fulfill more of a man’s role in society as far as being provider, warrior, those sort of things. So, yeah, my pronoun use is partly a way of decolonizing gender for myself.”

Gladstone, who was raised on a Blackfeet reservation in Montana until she was 10 years old, said she uses she/they pronouns as
Gladstone, who was raised on a Blackfeet reservation in Montana until she was 10 years old, said she uses she/they pronouns as “a way of decolonizing gender for myself.”

Laurent Koffel/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Gladstone, who was raised on a Blackfeet reservation in Montana until she was 10, is already garnering Oscar buzz for her performance in “Flower Moon.” The Martin Scorsese drama chronicles the real-life murders of Osage Nation members in 1920s Oklahoma.

While the actor is expected to be nominated for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress (in September last year, Variety announced that she would campaign for the former), she told People that gendering these categories is peculiar — as there obviously aren’t “director-ess,” “producer-ess” or “cinematographer-ess” statues being handed out.

Winning the Academy Award would make Gladstone the first Native American to ever snag a competitive Oscar, regardless. Nominations are set to be announced later this month.

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