Elle UK is making history with its June issue, featuring its first-ever non-binary model on the cover, Olly Eley.

In the accompanying feature, Eley writes a powerful essay explaining their gender.

“After years of despising the body that I was born with, unable to relate in any way to the gender I was assigned at birth, I had at last found a way of existing in the world that made sense to me,” Eley writes. “I’ve never felt female, but then neither have I felt male. 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.”

Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker

The Australian-British model also describes how they felt to hear someone referred to by the pronouns “they/them” for the first time.

“Before I moved to Sydney, I didn’t have the language or the role models to understand how I felt. I’d never really had the chance to consider that ‘gender’ could be something I could control if I wanted to. Once I moved to the city, that all changed. 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. Whoa, that’s the answer to everything right now, I thought,” they write.

RELATED: ‘Feel Good’ Star Mae Martin Comes Out As Non-Binary: ‘I’m Still Figuring It Out’

Eley also addresses their decision not to undergo a surgical transformation. “There are countless different surgeries that some trans people choose to have to feel more comfortable in their bodies; for me I feel so disconnected from any gender that no body will ever feel perfect. I chose not to have full ‘top surgery’ [a mastectomy], as that body wouldn’t have served me either. Instead, I wanted the option to bind [a method of compressing the chest to give a flatter appearance] and the size of my chest previously meant that I wasn’t able to do so effectively. So I had a reduction to give me that control over my appearance,” they write.

Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker

RELATED: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Sara Ramirez Comes Out As Non-Binary

“I bind not because I’m ashamed of my body but because the autonomy of doing so makes me feel safe,” they continue. “I’m not ‘fluid’ where I shift between genders and pronouns. I am agender [devoid of gender altogether] and what I do with my body, whether I’m naked or in a full snowsuit, doesn’t change it. I’ve accepted that I’m a non-binary person living in a binary world (that I have every intention of disrupting!).”

Eley also ruminates on becoming a role model for trans and non-binary kids. “When someone is neither, both or all of the above in terms of their gender — like I am — people can be defensive and reluctant to accept that such a grey area exists,” they explain. “I wish I’d known that it was okay to exist in this ‘in-between’ place when I was growing up. I wish someone had told me that I could be whoever I wanted to be, do whatever I wanted to do and that I was so valid and important. Trans and non-binary kids need to hear that they are beautiful and worthy of love and a fulfilling life.’

Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker
Elle UK/Damon Baker

The June issue of Elle UK is on sale starting May 6.

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