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Host Dwayne Johnson performs a dance number in this pool photo during the 2016 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

Why do actors and actresses have separate award categories? MTV just eliminated theirs

MTV will no longer divide its acting awards based on gender, the television channel announced Thursday.

When the MTV Movie and Television Awards airs May 7, acting categories will be non-gendered. The awards ceremony, formerly known as the MTV Movie Awards, previously recognized actors in two distinct categories: Best Male Performance and Best Female Performance. The network will now award trophies to one television actor and one film actor.

Three men and three women — all cisgender — are nominated in each acting category this year.

Speaking to the pop culture website Vulture, MTV president Chris McCarthy cited the network’s target demographic as the reason for the change.

“This audience actually doesn’t see male-female dividing lines, so we said, ‘Let’s take that down,’” McCarthy said.

The announcement comes after Variety published an emailed exchange between non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon and the Television Academy. Dillon, who was born female and identifies using “they” as a singular pronoun, inquired for which acting category they would be eligible at the Emmys. The Academy replied, “anyone can submit under either category for any reason.”

The Grammys eliminated gender-specific categories in 2011. The Academy Awards, which has received been criticized in recent years for a lack of racial diversity, still has separate categories for men and women.

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