Sam Smith normalising the use of pronouns

Roisin Maguire

Singer and Grammy winner, Sam Smith has recently changed their pronouns to they/them.

Smith announced on Twitter their gender neutral pronouns saying “Today is a good day so here goes. I’ve decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM, after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out…”

They acknowledged that they are “privileged to be surrounded by people that support” them in this decision and has asked for people to gender them correctly. Smith went on to say that they understand that there will be mistakes and mis-gendering but they hope that people can see them as they see themselves.

They also mentioned that at the minute, they are not at the stage to discuss “at length about what it means to be non-binary” but that they can’t wait for the day that they are.

Smith is not the first celebrity to have a non-binary identity, with celebrities such as Lachlan Watson from the Chilling Adventure of Sabrina, Ruby Rose from Orange is the New Black and Ezra Miller from The Perks of being a Wallflower all identifying as non-binary.

However, Smith is possibly the highest profile non-binary celebrity which has sparked debates online in the comments section of articles by some people who believe that a person is given one gender at birth and must remain in that gender.

People have commented “he’s still a ‘he’ to me” and one conservative journalist, Douglas Murray, said that he does not believe in non-binary. However former Guardian journalist, Afua Hirsch spoke against Murray and said that “every change becomes a positive social change.”

She also made a point that the same thing was said about feminism in the 70’s and people changed for the better once they were educated properly on the subject, hinting that the same will happen here.

Smith is normalising the use of non-binary pronouns which will have a positive effect on the non-binary community and educating on the topic. One twitter user tweeted Smith saying that they did not understand what non-binary meant. This prompted them to do some research which made them come to the conclusion that “our psyches are complex and finding our path is important.”

It can take time to adjust and as Smith said, there will be mistakes made but what is important for non-binary people is that the public continue to correct their mistakes.

The world is clearly changing as the Merriam-Webster dictionary added “they” as a pronoun.

On their blog they said: “We will note that ‘they’ has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s; that the development of singular ‘they’ mirrors the development of the singular ‘you’ from the plural ‘you’, yet we don’t complain that singular ‘you’ is ungrammatical; and that regardless of what detractors say, nearly everyone uses the singular ‘they’ in casual conversation and often in formal writing.”

Roisin Maguire

Image Credit: WikiMedia