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TikTok executive comes out as nonbinary

TikTok's chief operating officer, Vanessa Pappas, identifies as "both a woman and non-binary” and uses both “they/them and she/her” pronouns.
Vanessa Pappas, Chief Operating Officer for TikTok, arrives for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing in Washington
Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's chief operating officer, arrives for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing in Washington on Sept. 14. Alex Brandon / AP

A TikTok executive came out publicly as nonbinary Monday in a message shared on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Vanessa Pappas, the social media giant's chief operating officer, revealed they "primarily go by V" in their personal life and have recently started to use both they/them and she/her pronouns.

"Since representation matters, I recognize the importance of language in identifying and affirming gender differences," Pappas, who has served as TikTok's COO since May 2021, said.

Pappas, who is pansexual and in a same-sex relationship, added that they identify as "being both a woman and non-binary."

"I don’t worry if you don’t use V or they/them all the time, but I do appreciate the effort to recognize my preferences," Pappas said.

Pappas said they decided to come out publicly because of their professional stature and after talking about "the importance of recognizing diversity" with their children.

"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," Pappas said. "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."

Pappas' announcement was well-received on social media by LGBTQ people and allies. However, as an openly LGBTQ executive, Pappas is an outlier.

While more Americans identify as LGBTQ than ever before, corporate board rooms and leadership are overwhelmingly straight and cisgender.

To date, only a handful of Fortune 500 companies have LGBTQ chief executives. And just 26 of the 5,670 board seats at Fortune 500 companies are held by out LGBTQ individuals, according to a study released last year by LGBTQ business group Out Leadership.