TikTok COO comes out as non-binary with powerful message of ‘celebrating difference’

Vanessa Pappas

TikTok COO V Pappas has proudly come out as non-binary, sharing their updated name and pronouns. 

V Pappas announced the news on Monday (February 6) in a heartfelt post after updating their pronouns to include they/them alongside she/her. 

Writing on Linkedin, Pappas explained they told TikTok’s staff about their identity at the weekend and wanted to share why it is important to them more widely. 

“I primarily go by V and more recently they/them,” they explained.

“While most of you know me as being fairly private as it relates to my personal life I did feel it important to bring my whole self to work and to share my gender identity and preferred pronouns. And through my actions show that difference is accepted and welcomed at TikTok.”

The TikTok executive said they “still very much value my identity as being both a woman and non-binary”. 

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They added: ”I don’t worry if you don’t use V or they/them all the time, but I do appreciate the effort to recognise my preferences”.

V Pappas explained that they came to understand ther gender identity after discussions with their two children.

They said they take “a lot of lessons from being a parent”, as their children “provide me with an ability for self reflection through their questions and own exploration of ideas”. 

“I am pansexual and raising my kids in a same-sex household with my loving spouse and partner of 20 years,” Pappas wrote.

“As a family we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of recognising diversity across sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic status, personal abilities, political backgrounds etc. And how, seeing and embracing differences, and enabling all voices to be heard, fosters a more inclusive community, the kind we aspire for our kids to grow up in.” 

The family’s most recent discussions had been focused on gender identity, with Pappas noting: “As a parent I also want to set an example on how it is OK to represent yourself in a way that you most identify with and to have pride and to celebrate such difference. 

“In my position I am also aware of how I have an ability to bring greater visibility, discussion and ideally acceptance within my community whether among work, family or friends. 

“This is important to me.”

Pappas’ followers were quick to praise their choice to come out and be visible.

In response to the post, marketing executive Noa Elan said: “Powerful move and message, V. I can’t wait to show this to my seven-year-old, who’s been leading the conversation about gender identity with her classmates.”

Yeong Cheng wrote: “Thanks for sharing, V(anessa) Pappas, especially in recognition of the disproportional impact that sharing from your position of influence has on the broader cultural zeitgeist and the lives of genderqueer people.

“Here’s hoping your example creates an anchorpoint in your areas of influence, especially when it comes to accountability and support structures at TikTok, both formal and informal.”

Ex-TikTok staffer Rebecca Victor told Pappas that it is “executives like you that make me proud have worked at TikTok, and proud to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community”.

In February 2022, TikTok announced it would ban misgendering, deadnaming, misogyny and conversion therapy content

Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety for the app, said these “ideologies [had] long been prohibited” on the app, but that it had decided to explicitly ban them after feedback from creators and “civil society organisations”

It came almost a year after watchdog Media Matters for America reported that TikTok’s algorithm – which determines what content appears on a user’s feed – was being used to spread anti-LGBTQ+ content.

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