Sam Smith Identifies as Non-Binary and Why It Matters

Did you hear/read that Sam Smith came out as non-binary yesterday? If not, I recommend stopping here to read this NBC article. This is such exciting news for many reasons, one of the main ones being that the more we shine a spotlight on “gender queer” “non-binary” “gender non-conforming (GNC)” the more our society can get away from being so entrenched in gender. There are so many people with different variations of female/male identity and expression who do not identify as part of the binary that are depressed, self-harming, or suicidal because they do not want to be continually shoved into the box that was labeled for them when they were born.

Imagine a world where when we speak about random people on the street or in the market we use gender neutral pronoun of “they”. For example, when my dog barks at people while on a walk or tries to pull towards them I say, “Leave that person alone” or “leave them alone” instead of “leave that man or woman/ he or she alone”. I just identified their gender for them and whether it’s correct or not in terms of how they identify themselves does not matter. What matters is that I allow people the space to define that for themselves. Who am I to assume anyone’s gender? Imagine the freedom that would come with expressing ourselves outside of the gender binary. Imagine a world in which we ask people’s pronouns every time we are introduced and then we give ours. Imagine a world in which we don’t have trans/gender queer/non-binary people murdered every day because they are trying to live and be free. Voices like Sam Smith’s is integral in this social shift.

As humans we are so focused on putting everything in a box with a label in the files of our minds. This need came from primitive humans needing to look around or hear their environment and quickly identify threats. Is that sound a lion or just the bushes rustling? Nope, that’s just leaves. I don’t need to run for my life. This served our ancestors well but it is no longer serving us as it has pushed us further into the gender binary (male/female). People who have large platforms like Sam Smith are helping us fight our way out of the gender binary trench. This normalizes the idea that gender can be anything we want it to be, it is not the sex that we were labeled at birth.

Will you join me in referring to everyone as a person or “they/them” before we know how they identify? Language matters. Language impacts our thoughts, not to mention the thoughts of those around us. It’s such a small yet difficult shift, and it matters.

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