Pop singer Demi Lovato announced they identify as nonbinary. What does it mean?

  • The term is used by people who feel they don’t conform to traditional gender norms
  • Celebrities like ‘Stay with me’ singer Sam Smith and ‘Umbrella Academy’ star Elliot Page also publicly identify as nonbinary
Tribune News Service |

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Demi Lovato recently revealed they identify as nonbinary and are changing their pronouns, telling fans the decision came after “self-reflective work.” Lovato said they picked gender-neutral pronouns them and they as “this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression.” Photo: AP

On Wednesday, Demi Lovato announced they were nonbinary and changed their pronouns to they/them. You’ve likely been hearing the word a lot more lately, but do you know what it means?

“Nonbinary” refers to someone who does not identify only as a man or a woman, i.e. the traditional gender binary, according to the Human Rights Campaign. They could identify as both a man and a woman, in between the two genders or not a part of any gender category at all. GLAAD (a group that works against LGBTQ+ discrimination) offers a similar definition.

Someone who is nonbinary may also be transgender - Umbrella Academy star Elliot Page, for example, identifies as both, as stated in an interview with Time - but that is not always the case. GLAAD recommends only calling someone nonbinary if they claim that identity themselves.

It has become increasingly common for some people who identify as nonbinary use a singular “they/them” pronoun.

Nonbinary also exists as a catch-all term for various gender identities.

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“Nonbinary can also be used to encompass identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer or gender-fluid,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things - meaning someone identifying as nonbinary has no bearing on to whom they are attracted.

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Grammy-winning singer Sam Smith came out as nonbinary and genderqueer in 2019, sharing a few months later that they use “they/them” pronouns after what the pop star called a “lifetime of being at war with my gender.”

Lovato’s coming out video was similarly empowering. “I feel this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and am still discovering,” they said.

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