On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, Demi Lovato revealed that they identify as non-binary. The singer announced this on the first episode of their new podcast, 4D with Demi Lovato, before their conversation with Alok Vaid-Menon, a gender non-conforming writer and performer Lovato met after having a discussion about being non-binary with singer Sam Smith.


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“Over the past year and a half, I’ve been doing some healing and self-reflective work,” the singer says in their video. “And through this work, I’ve had the revelation that I identify as non-binary. With that said, I’ll officially be changing my pronouns to they/them. I feel that 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 still am discovering.”

Lovato expanded on the announcement in a series of tweets, explaining, “Today is a day I’m so happy to share more of my life with you all- I am proud to let you know that I identify as non-binary & will officially be changing my pronouns to they/them moving forward. This has come after a lot of healing & self-reflective work. I’m still learning & coming into myself, & I don’t claim to be an expert or a spokesperson. Sharing this with you now opens another level of vulnerability for me. I’m doing this for those out there that haven’t been able to share who they truly are with their loved ones.”

“I know this might be a new conversation for many,” Lovato states in the video. Some of the responses on Twitter proved this to indeed be the case, as one user stated, “I’m 36, I’ve had two kids and now I really don’t understand anything. What’s non-binary.” Another expressed confusion towards the misconception that they/them pronouns are reserved for plural usage, saying, “But isn’t they/them plural pronouns? Totally confused.”

[screenshot of tweets reading: I'm 36, I've had two kids and now I really don't understand anything. What's non-binary/ But isn’t they/them plural pronouns? Totally confused. But hey if that makes you happy let it be.]
[screenshot of tweets reading: I’m 36, I’ve had two kids and now I really don’t understand anything. What’s non-binary/ But isn’t they/them plural pronouns? Totally confused. But hey if that makes you happy let it be.] via Twitter
The fact is that most major style guides including the Associated Press, the Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA style manual, and the APA style manual have accepted the usage of the singular “they” since 2019, and Merriam-Webster has added the gender-neutral honorific Mx. to their unabridged dictionary. But the term “they” as a singular pronoun has been around since the late 1300s, even Shakespeare used it along with Emily Dickinson, George Bernard Shaw, and Jane Austen.

Even the idea of being nongender conforming dates back to 1400 B.C.E., at the latest, when Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh and was sometimes depicted as a woman wearing men’s clothing, and other times as having a feminine face upon a man’s body, hinting that they were in fact non-binary.

Non-binary is a term for a gender identity that does not fall into the binary categories of female and male. The LGBTQIA+ media organization GLAAD explains that non-binary folks may define their gender as lying somewhere in between man and woman, or they may consider their gender to be completely separate from these terms. The non-binary identity does fall into the transgender spectrum in the sense that people who identify as such are not aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth. However, the term is not synonymous for transgender in the sense that someone assigned male or female at birth who identifies as the other should not be labeled non-binary. This identity should only be used if someone self-identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer.

People like Demi Lovato identifying as nonbinary is nothing new. But it is significant when celebrities share their gender identities with the world, because it continues the conversation surrounding gender identity and invites more people to participate. As Lovato notes, they need to “do whatever I can to live my truth to the fullest — and be as loud as I can with it so that other people feel comfortable living their truth as well.”

When Demi came out as pansexual they helped to break a barrier surrounding the discussion around pansexuality. When they opened up about their drug addiction and overdose they helped to break the boundaries around the conversations on young celebrities and drug abuse. When the singer talked about their eating disorder they helped open the door to openly speaking about mental health and Hollywood’s body-shaming culture. By coming out as nonbinary, they are breaking yet another barrier surrounding the conversation around gender identity. They are bringing visibility to the nonbinary identity, paving the way for further acceptance of all identities in society.

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