Yellowjackets star Liv Hewson says they’ve ‘never been happier’ since undergoing top surgery

Yellowjackets star Liv Hewson opens up about non-binary identity, top surgery and Emmy awards.

Yellowjackets star Liv Hewson shared their gender euphoria after fulfilling their decade-long dream of getting top surgery.

Showtime’s Yellowjackets – starring Melanie Lynskey, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson – is known for many things. Cannibalism, forest cults, harrowing tales of survival and, of course, immaculate queer vibes.

The series follows an all-girls soccer group forced to survive in a deserted wilderness after a crash landing, while several years in the future, their adult counterparts deal with the aftermath of this trauma.

In the second season, which premiered in March, non-binary star Hewson (Santa Clarita Diet) reprised their role as dry-witted and hardened survivalist Van Palmer, soon becoming a frontrunner as queer fan-favourite.

Now, in an all-encompassing interview with Teen Vogue on Wednesday (28 June) Hewson has opened up about their non-binary identity, having top surgery and clarifying their withdrawal from the Emmy awards.

The 27-year-old actor said they first realised they were non-binary in 2012, aged 16, as they recovered from an eating disorder partially fuelled by feelings of gender dysphoria, they told the publication.

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“[I had] a discomfort with and alienation from my body, and a need to control it or be in charge of it or shape it,” they explained.

“I came across the term non-binary for the first time, and it was just immediate,” Hewson continued. “‘Oh, that’s 100 per cent what my deal is’,” they thought. “‘That explains everything’.”

“But very quickly on the heels of that was, I can’t do anything with this. It’s 2012, and I’m 16. It was this beautiful, celebratory thing of that’s me. I know exactly who I am, I’ve fixed it. But I couldn’t tell anyone because, at the time, it really felt impossible.”

A decade on, as they unapologetically speak up for LGBTQ+ rights and bring sorely needed queer representation to our screens, they admit they are “so done feeling any shame or apology about it”.

Liv Hewson says top surgery made them happier than ever

Alongside their newfound confidence, Liv Hewson said that last year they finally got the gender-affirming healthcare they had been dreaming about – top surgery.

“I cannot tell you the complete, fundamental shift that I have felt in the year since having surgery,” said Hewson. “I knew that I wanted top surgery for a decade; it’s the longest I’ve ever thought about doing anything.

“The place where I went, I had that clinic’s website open on my laptop for five years. It was this impossible mountain: I want that, but I’m never gonna get it. No one’s gonna let me, blah, blah, blah. To have that be in the past now …

Liv Hewson and Jasmin Savoy Brown as younger versions of their characters in Yellowjackets (Showtime)

“I stand differently, I walk differently, I carry myself differently. It feels different in my body than it ever has. I have just never been happier. I’ve never been more centred. I’ve never felt more stable and present and alive. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It’s taught me a lot. 

“The recovery process taught me about rest, accepting help, and caring for my body as something connected to me rather than separate from me, that I’m in opposition to – this is mine and I want to take care of it. I feel good in it and good about it.”

They also slammed anti-trans voices who engage in rhetoric about trans people “mutilating their bodies”, and rebutted the argument that those people might feel regret as a “non-starter” and “completely irrational”.

They explained: “When people talk about gender-affirming surgery using words like ‘mutilation’, that’s not very nice. Is that how you think about people who’ve had surgery for other things?

“It’s a disgust reaction, and I do not take disgust into account as a legitimate point of discourse. I don’t have to entertain it and I’m not going to. It’s a waste of everybody’s time, it’s knee-jerk, it’s not grounded in reality, and it’s not useful.

“In terms of ‘What if you feel regret? – is the idea that nobody ever feel regret about anything? Aside from the fact that we have complete statistical information about regret rates of gender- affirming surgery and this is an absolute nonstarter, what?

“Are you also going to legislate against people getting tattoos? It’s just control: ‘I want you to make decisions based on my level of comfort with your existence.’ That is completely irrational.”

Non-binary Yellowjackets actor slams gendered awards ceremonies

Yellowjackets star Liv Hewson
Liv Hewson has benched themselves from the Emmys due to its gendered awards categories. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Unfortunately, with the highs and have also come the lows. Despite their Yellowjackets character’s popularity, Hewson made the tough decision to pull out of Emmy consideration earlier this year due to gendered categories.

Hewson follows in the footsteps of several non-binary actors including Emma D’Arcy, Emma Corrin, Bella Ramsey and Justin David Sullivan who have all called out major award ceremonies still promoting gendered categories.

On the heels of the historic Tony Award wins for non-binary stage stars J Harrison Ghee and Alex Newell, which Hewson described as “incredible”, they delved further in their decision to withdraw.

“My issue is so structural, I don’t think it would be honest for me to attempt to work within this system. Here’s what I thought about: Best-case scenario, career-wise, I, hypothetically, would be nominated for an Emmy, which would be an honour.

“Then the best-case scenario is that I would, hypothetically, win. And then I would go home with a trophy that says ‘actress’ on it. I don’t want that. 

“Even if that happens, even if I were able to be on a stage like that and talk about being non-binary with the trophy in my hand, hypothetically, the dynamic at play is still that there’s a category for men and a category for women.

“You’re putting me in the woman one, giving me the best woman award, then I get onstage and thank you. I’m not going to do that,” Hewson continued.

“The bewilderment I have is that acting is the only category that’s separated by sex. We take for granted that this is how the world should work, but gender-neutral awards exist in every category but this one.

“There are multiple ceremonies where they don’t exist at all, so it’s absolutely possible. Isn’t it a little bizarre that there’s one job that’s about men and women and the rest of them aren’t?”

You can read Liv Hewson’s full Teen Vogue profile here.