You wouldn’t normally expect a TV show about a billion-dollar hedge-fund company to be the first type of series to introduce a character who does not identify as either male or female, but Showtime’s "Billions" did it on February 19 with the character of intern Taylor Mason.

Taylor, played by actor Asia Kate Dillon, appears with a buzz cut and, refreshingly, moles. The character is smart, likeable, and confident; assertive without being aggressive or hostile. They give as good as they get. That’s another interesting aspect of this character, the use of neutral (albeit plural) pronouns such as ‘they,’ ‘their,’ and ‘them,’ which do not offend, as referring to a person as ‘it’ would.

Creating Taylor Mason

Also refreshing is that the producers did not set out specifically to cast a gender-neutral part or to make a social statement; the idea of the role just fell into place naturally. That, along with Dillon’s enjoyable portrayal, makes the part work well. Viewers can watch Taylor and realize that Taylor’s gender is completely irrelevant, that Taylor is simply a fun person with a lot of financial smarts, who is going to give Bobby Axelrod a run for his money.

Asia Kate Dillion is themself a person who identifies with neither gender. Again, the producers did not seek out such an actor, but having Dillon take on the role gives Taylor’s character a verisimilitude that might not otherwise be possible, as Dillon is able to advise the scriptwriters from personal experience on small details that would otherwise be missed.

For instance, how does one introduce a person who does not identify as either gender? The person can be introduced as ‘Mx.,’ ‘Misc.,’ or ‘Ind.’

Taylor Mason and neuroscience

A book called "We Are Our Brains" by neuroscientist D. F. Swaab delves into the spectrum of gender identity and discusses its roots, which lie in prenatal brain development and the influence that various hormones have on the developing fetal brain.

Viewers of Billions who are curious about Taylor Mason and the actor who plays them might find that this book provides fascinating insights into how people come to identify themselves internally as having a gender or not and might help the reader better understand such people when meeting them in real life.