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Model Olly Eley Becomes ELLE UK’s First Non-Binary Cover Star

by : Julia Banim on : 06 May 2021 17:24
Model Olly Eley Becomes ELLE UK's First Non-Binary Cover Starponyboy.us/Instagram

Model Olly Eley has just become the first non-binary person to feature on the cover of Elle UK.

Having been perceived as a ‘tomboy’ as a child growing up in rural Australia, Eley, who was assigned female at birth, knew that this label didn’t quite fit, having never felt female or male.

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Writing in a piece for ELLE UK. Eley revealed they had ‘at last found a way of existing in the world that made sense’ after many years of ‘despising’ their body.

Eley wrote:

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If there was a thin line that connected the two genders, I would be a dot floating somewhere between the two, but untethered to the line altogether.

It’s the only way I can describe it. Articulating this feeling of existing in a hinterland outside of the binary is one of the greatest gifts the past few years has given me.

When their body began to change during puberty, Eley felt ‘completely unanchored’ to their body and to ‘their sense of self’, and felt a constant ‘simmering rage’ coursing through them.

At the time, Eley did not know why exactly they felt such anger and frustration, and would take their feelings out on family members. They experienced bullying at school for ‘being different’, and didn’t feel as though they fitted in anywhere.

Eley recalled:

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I felt like an alien, like I was in the wrong place, in the wrong body. I was operating at a completely different frequency to everyone else around me.

Eley initially believed that they were just gay, but after getting a girlfriend at the age of 16, they realised that ‘being called a lesbian couple made [her] cringe’, and that there was more to it than that.

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Everything changed when Eley moved to Sydney, having never before had ‘the language or the role models’ that allowed them to finally understand their own feelings.

Eley wrote:

My mind opened and was flooded with light – there was this whole queer community that I had no idea existed. When someone first introduced themselves to me with their name and the pronouns ‘they/them’, it felt so safe to me. Woah, that’s the answer to everything right now, I thought.

Read the full ELLE UK piece for yourself here.

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If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Fashion, LGBTQ+, Model, Now, trans

Credits

ELLE
  1. ELLE

    Olly Eley: A Life Without Limits