Coming Out

TikTok COO Comes Out as Nonbinary

TikTok’s Chief Operating Officer, V Pappas, came out as non-binary this past Monday, updating their name and pronouns on social media. Along with the update, they shared a heartfelt description of their gender identity journey and why it was important to come out publicly.

Pappas explained to their followers on LinkedIn, “I use both they/them and she/her as I still very much value my identity 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.”

As for how they arrived at this realization, Pappas credited parenting with giving them new perspectives on life. “As most of you know I take a lot of lessons from being a parent,” they wrote. “Often my kids provide me with an ability for self-reflection through their questions and own exploration of ideas.”

It was out of this context that the topic of gender identity came up. But even as Pappas changed their name and pronouns in their personal life, they felt they had a responsibility to come out publicly. “Since representation matters, I recognize the importance of language in identifying and affirming gender differences,” they said. “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.”

As an executive at one of the largest social media companies in the world, Pappas is determined to represent their community both at work and at home. “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,” they explained.

“So 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.”

In the last year, TikTok has made efforts to better support LGBTQ+ users, collaborating with GLAAD in updating their community guidelines to prohibit hate speech. Pappas’s coming out means there will be a queer voice at the top leadership level when further progressive updates are on the table, which is a rare thing. In general, LGBTQ+ representation among company executives is sparse, with less than 1% of board members of Fortune 500 identifying as LGBTQ+ according to a 2022 report.

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