Demi Lovato is non-binary: ‘I know it’s going to take a while for people to get used to’

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Demi Lovato has a new podcast and web series called 4D with Demi Lovato. In the first episode, they announced that they’re non-binary. Demi interviewed friend Alok Vaid-Menon for that, whom Demi was introduced to by non-binary artist Sam Smith. Demi and Alok talked about how they first met and how Alok was instrumental in helping Demi understand that they were non-binary. I got a lot out of their talk and came away with a better understanding of what it means to be non-binary. I’m still being educated about this and felt like I learned quite a bit. Here are some highlights.

Demi on not living their truth before
In 2018 when I overdosed I feel like the reason why that happened was because I was ignoring my truth. I was suppressing who I really am in order to please stylists, team members or even fans that wanted me to be the sexy feminine pop star. I thought that was what I was supposed to be. Now I just realize it’s so much more important to live your truth than to ever suppress yourself because that’s the type of stuff that happens when you do.

Alok on what it means to be non-binary
We are people who have existed for thousands of years who actually experience ourselves outside of the idea of man or woman, but what I want you to understand is that it comes from a place of deep joy and healing not from a place of doubt.

Demi on being non-binary
There’s nothing more freeing for me than to be unattached to a role that society wants me to play because that I fully believe that gender is just another boundary that separates humanity from divine wisdom.

It would mean the world if people could start identifying me as they/them. I will also be accepting if people slip and say her/she. I know it’s going to take a while for people to get used to. I just want them to be taking the effort.

Alok on the difference between non-binary and gender non-conforming
Non-binary means that you are not exclusively a man nor a woman. Gender non-conforming means you visibly defy society’s ideas of what a man or woman should look like. There could be a lesbian woman who is gender non-conforming because society would expect her to be feminine but maybe she’s more masculine but that person wouldn’t be non-binary they were still a woman or there could be a non-binary person who might look like what society traditionally expects a woman or a man to be but they’re still non-binary so the difference is really about identity versus expression.

What moving beyond gender norms is about is fighting for your right to determine what your gender is. Which means if you say I’m a woman you’re a woman if you say a man you’re a man it’s that easy.

Alok on making the decision to come out
So often people dismiss us as fickle or like making it up. We know that there’s gonna be backlash, we know that people aren’t gonna understand us, we know that people are going to make fun of us and we still do this. That actually shows that we’re living in our truth and y’all are the ones that are confused.

Demi on people saying they’re attention-seeking or doing this for their career
For the first time in my life I’m putting my well-being over my career. That’s the difference in somebody doing something for attention versus speaking your truth. I know
that not everybody is going to love that. This is me and this is my truth. I can’t shove it down or suppress it any longer or I’ll end up where I did a few years ago.

[From YouTube]

Alok also said that they hear criticism from CIS people that being non-binary is taking away the right for others to identify as male or female, which of course is not the case at all. They said it’s more important to strive to use the right pronouns and to honor someone’s gender identity than to get caught up in the grammar. When someone messes up, which we inevitably do, we can just apologize and say “sorry I slipped.” Demi said “we have to change the way that we perceive other people’s truths. It is about having compassion for someone’s dignity as a human being.

I am bisexual and am in my late 40s. I did not know what that meant or who I was until I was 20 and read about it. I had people tell me it was not a real identity, that it was a “trend,” and that I had to “pick a side.” As a result I’m still very understated about it. I related to Demi’s story through my experiences as a bisexual woman.

I’m happy for Demi and am glad that they’re sharing their truth with us and being open and vulnerable about this. I was really touched by this talk and am grateful that Alok and Demi are taking the time to educate us.

Here is that interview. If you’re like me and are still learning about this I highly suggest you watch it.

Photos via Instagram

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91 Responses to “Demi Lovato is non-binary: ‘I know it’s going to take a while for people to get used to’”

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  1. Maria says:

    Good for them and they’re not wrong in any of this.

    They’re still a Karen though.

    • nb says:

      THIS.

      It’s a sad day when the mainstream educator on gender and nonbinary people is… Demi Lovato. As a non-white nonbinary person, I urge and encourage everyone to not hold these celebs on a pedestal or treat them as activists or educators. I’ve seen posts by Demi that are… yikes.

      They’re 100% a Karen and definitely A LOT. Can’t stand them, tbh.

  2. Betsy says:

    That’s really great for them to be able to come to that conclusion, seriously. There have been non-binary people in all cultures and at all points in human history (with varying levels of acceptance), and it’s good that we’re arriving at a point where this is accepted (more or less).

    I will use a person’s preferred pronouns, but I dearly wish we coined a new word (wasn’t there one with z?) that followed the established rules of grammar. Using they/them for one person feels clunky, Yes, I know language evolves with culture. But in this one, it could be a new word that follows the grammatical convention.

    • Maria says:

      I don’t know. To me, the problem with the prescriptivist view of grammar is that it’s built on societal norms that centralize gender essentialism and a fixed binary narrative.

      Grammatical conventions are going to be broken/discarded as these discussions become more prominent, by necessity.

      • Betsy says:

        So add a tertiary word. What’s currently happening is sloppy and confusing. https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/ Language evolves. New words and new uses evolve, but some evolutions are more organic than others.

      • Lou-Anne Farrell says:

        I think it’s more basic than that – sometimes in conversation it’s necessary, or at least helpful, to know whether you are talking about a single person or multiple people. The purpose of language is to allow for effective communication, and I think we can come up with something better that will allow us to do that and still treat people with respect.

      • Jenn says:

        Right! Yes! Prescriptivism by its very design (in grammar or elsewhere) upholds invisible structures of oppression, in part because language “rules” tend to reflect the racism, sexism, classism, and bias of their time. I admit I can be a stodgy traditionalist, so I constantly have to catch myself and interrogate why I’m so inflexible at times.

    • Aeren says:

      Yes, I agree with you! It always confuses me.

    • MMC says:

      I don’t know how to do this in my language. They is also gendered, verbs are gendered, everything is gendered. It works in english but in other languages? How?

      • MMC says:

        That is interesting, but other than just nouns, for an example, in my language, I can’t say “I went to the shop” without revealing my gender. And using “it” just seems offensive

      • Nanny to the Rescue says:

        In Slovenian, where everything and more is gendered and all plural pronouns are already busy being something else besides their original meaning (usually politeness or insult), the non-binary alternate between male and female forms.

        And it’s not the best solution, as it’s extremely confusing, but I can understand why it’s virtually impossible to coin anything neo, as you’d need to make-up hundreds of suffixes for all the case/gender/number combinations in so many gendered grammar forms. Pronouns really are the least of one’s problems.

      • Arpeggi says:

        Yeah in French it’s very difficult to construct a gender-neutral sentence, everything, every object even, is gendered. I feel somewhat comfortable doing that in English, but have to admit it’s a bit of a struggle in my mother tongue

      • Cherie says:

        I am learning Spanish and have a tutor on iTalki from Venezuela (if you haven’t tried it, it is amazing!) and he pretty much has no idea how to incorporate gender neutral language into our lessons. I am barely grasping that everything is gendered.

      • Heat says:

        I agree. In French, it is very difficult.
        It would be so helpful to have a specific pronoun for non-binary people. I never want to mis-gender anyone, as I have non-binary family members. Even they wish that there was a proper pronoun because “they/them” is difficult and sometimes misleading.

    • tealily says:

      I’m fine with the use of they/them. It’s usually pretty easy, but there have definitely been times when someone has been talking to me about a nonbinary person and I was confused who else was included in the group they were talking about. (You gave them a ride? Who all was there?) A mild confusion that was quickly cleared up.

    • RandomPerson says:

      A new word would be great. Something singular in number but with no reference to sex nor gender—just one human being. “They” sends me off wondering “you and who else”.

      • Laura Reininger says:

        Its hard to tell who I am replying to — but this is just general regarding the he/she/they issue — I had a Turkish friend who was always mixing up- using he for and female, she for a male— happened all the time. After a while we talked about it from and what I understood it seems that there is not really the same kind of distinction in that language. They just use the word ‘O’ for a male or female. Like ‘O is coming over now’ – I don’t even know if it’s actually spelled using just the letter or if that is just the way it sounded to me. I like the idea of using ‘O’ in any case. It wouldn’t be confusing like using ‘they’ because then we all know we’re talking about 1 person

    • AlpineWitch says:

      Betsy, as a non-binary person who refuses to use the pronouns them/they for the reason it’s referring to a plural, I totally agree with you. Unfortunately, many non-binary people follow what has been decided for them ages ago and have no will to fight to insert new words into all the languages.

      • Nanny to the Rescue says:

        As far as I’ve come across this (and this is minimal, so forgive me for probably saying something ignorant), there are several neopronouns in use, or at least some non-binary people are trying to introduce them. I don’t know if any will stick long-term, we’ll see.

        But does that seem a solution for you? Several different sets of neo-pronouns that one can choose from if “he” or “she” or “they” isn’t OK; or would you prefer just one for all non-binary people, one that’s not gender specific but isn’t “it”?

    • IMARA219 says:

      Yes it’s confusing because my mind automatically reads it as 2 inside of 1 but that is not what being identified as non-binary is in the way it is explained. It would be nice to expand the vocabulary with a new addition instead of using an established word in a clunky grammatical manner.

    • BrainFog says:

      As a non-binary person, I don’t like “they/them” either and would love to have a different pronoun. I find it so confusing that I’m not using it for myself, although I guess I should.

      • Betsy says:

        @BrainFog – the link I posted at 9:59 lists many options! I thought for a while that Zie or something similar had been one of the preferred options, but it also looks like there are a total of nine options, seven neo pronouns. (I don’t ever want to misgender someone because that’s rude af but I can barely remember casual people’s names, let alone 1/7 new pronouns.)

    • Lisa says:

      FML, I grew up learning three languages but only really mastered english, I am pretty sure in Japanese and in Hindi we don’t use a they/them for one person. :/ I mean….I becomes We? I love that its all great to be all accepting, but I agree, instead of using clunky OLD grammer, maybe make up a whole new word! This they/them, we/us grammer is just god awful.

    • liz says:

      They/them as a singular pronoun when you don’t know the gender of the person being discussed has been a part of English grammar for a very long time.

      “Did you talk to the teacher/doctor/nurse/etc? What did they say?”

      As the parent of a non-binary teenager who came out about two and a half years ago, this announcement is wonderful, welcome news. As my Kiddo stated “maybe this means that by the time I am looking for a job in the real world, my pronouns will be normalized. As more celebrities come out, the rest of us become more accepted.”

    • nb says:

      > wasn’t there one with a z

      The pronouns you may be thinking of are ze/hir/hirs, which are by far the only neopronouns I can see being accepted by the mainstream. Of course, I might be biased, because those are my pronouns lol

      All the other neopronouns are a mouthful, hard to pronounce or write, and they/them can get confusing in some contexts.

      But anyway, if someone’s pronouns are ahagkah/akahass then you use those. It costs nothing to be respectful.

  3. harla says:

    Can anyone here point out books, articles or talks about non-binary, gender non-conforming that would help me understand better? I would like to be a better ally but don’t really know where to start. Thank you!

    • Celebitchy says:

      Watch the video it will help a lot!

    • HaHa says:

      “Transgender Warriors” by Leslie Feinberg is a terrific book tracing the history of trans/gender non-conforming people.

    • Jenn says:

      ALOK, Demi’s friend mentioned here, has an AMAZING Instagram account where they regularly post “book reports” summarizing works about the history of gender and how that history intersects with racism, ableism, and patriarchy. Those posts are consistently edifying, and it only takes a minute to click through a slideshow that is *dense* with info :)

  4. Lola says:

    Call me an old if you want, but I feel like nobody talks about the implications of all this that really suck. I’ve never felt like I had a “gender,” in fact, gender has been nothing but a tool others have used to limit, control, and abuse me since birth. What I do have is a sex, once I’ve felt discomfort with plenty of times, like when sexual harassment towards me exploded towards me at the age of 9 when I started puberty, and I began starving myself to reduce my breasts. Because having breasts didn’t bring anything to my life that I wanted, but became a literal target on my chest for countless men and boys to harass and attack me. Even now, if I ever need a mastectomy, I’ll be requesting to go flat, no question. Let’s not even talk about discomfort from having extreme period pain including cramps so painful I couldn’t stand up straight, and being told that I was being a baby and to get over it.

    I’ve never met a woman in my whole entire life who has been fully comfortable and fully identified with female gender roles. The percentage of women who are fully comfortable with having a female body is also a whole lot less than 100%. Does that make us non-binary? Not actually women? Not really women?

    I don’t feel like it’s good to imply that those of us with extreme discomfort with being treated as a “female” gender and having a female body, aren’t “fully” a woman, are “partially male” or something else. Because that also implies the only person who’s really a full complete woman is someone who 100% embraces the toxic, patriarchy invented idea of “female gender” which is so fucked up. What is the difference between men and women and non-binary, under this theory, if not that?

    If the concept of non-binary works for Demi and is what they want to identify with that’s great for them, but I think there’s a whole lot wrong (and especially misogynistic) with gender theory that it seems like nobody is talking about.

    • Maria says:

      I understand what you mean but the identification of your identity with your gender is a complex thing that each person has to process.
      I am also uncomfortable with many things about being a woman but most of those things are institutionalized patriarchy etc, which relies upon strict gender roles without debate in the first place (and also, misogyny).
      Many people who were assigned female at birth have agender identities. If a person is uncomfortable with social strictures surrounding treatment of women or uncomfortable in their body it doesn’t automatically mean they are masculine. Nor does it mean they aren’t fully a woman unless they choose to reject that classification.
      Basically it boils down to – a person is who they say they are. Others don’t get to make that decision for anyone else.

    • Rebecca says:

      This is such an excellent and important take, I completely agree.

    • Renata says:

      I’m with you Lola. There’s something very regressive about where we are now. NOBODY embodies gender performance perfectly. Even the most femme and frilly of girls will have at least one traditionally male pursuit and vice versa. Gender binaries have always been a scam and one that we have as a society already dispensed with. Hell, the fact that Demi is a breadwinner is already a discarding of the binary. When people like Demi now declare themselves a special category all it does is reinforce the binary. You can be masculine and still be a woman. This new ideology is so harmful to feminism, to LGB rights and I would argue to transgender people who are people with actual dysphoria from being in their physical bodies and for whom gender performance is secondary to that.

      • Ashley says:

        “Gender binaries have always been a scam.” Yes, I totally agree, We should be moving away from gender as an identity, not toward stronger definitions of it, because of all of the inherent, tacit, misogynist garbage that defines our current binary.

        I feel like in the future no-one’s going to care about gender, and that would be a good thing.

      • sassafras says:

        No. This “new ideology” is not “harmful” to feminism or LGBTQ+ rights. How could it be? When feminism supports all people having access to all opportunities? When LGBTQ+ literally encompasses trans/ nonbinary/ noncomforming?

        I don’t want anyone to misunderstand. I can be critical of gender activism but it’s not because I don’t support them. It’s because I think they’re not addressing the real issues at play; toxic patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism and white supremacy. I think it’s far more revolutionary to say nobody is a gender. Take away men’s genders… take away women’s genders…what would the meritocracy look like in 100 years?

      • Renata says:

        Which is what I said. Feminism holds that gender binaries are arbitrary constructions and their enforcement is one of the most incidious means of female oppression. LGB people have been resisting gender binary expressions since the beginning of time and paying the price for it. Trans people are clear that they try to play to gender stereotypes because failing to do so could get them killed. We’ve been working to the discarding of gender as a concept until the non-binary identifyers showed up to reinforce those very binaries. As if we don’t all embody traits from both sides.

    • emu says:

      I agree.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      I’ve gone off on this before but IMO what we really need to do as a society/culture is massively broaden our social construction/understanding of male and female (which overlap in the middle). I’m a huge fan of anyone non binary who doesn’t assign their preferences to one gender or another (e.g. cutting your hair off doesn’t make you less female! Hairstyle has nothing to do with gender!). Can you see how incoherent this is?

      Am also a huge fan of cisgendered people who wear whatever. There’s a cis-het man on Insta who wears skirts and heels on a daily basis and as he states, what you wear has nothing to do with your gender or sexuality. I hope we can get to that point as a society; it feels like we’re still in transition.

      IMO you hit the nail on the head: a lot of the discussion around gender ends up reinforcing conventional gender stereotypes. The non-binary person selects from binary gender stereotypes to create a ‘non-binary’ identity. But this identity is more accurately “both binaries”. To me, there should be identities that exist entirely apart from these stereotypes (which would ultimately render the stereotypes obsolete!). You can fully identify as female and prefer to wear men’s clothes and have short hair. You can fully identify as male and prefer to wear miniskirts and a beard. Or not.

      • chimes@midnight says:

        Gender non-conforming, at least how it is explained in the quoted text, seems like a really harmful label. A lesbian woman who dresses more masculine is gender non-conforming? They are less of a woman because of this? Annie Hall was gender non-conforming? So to be a woman you must fit in to a narrow ideal of what is feminine? That’s kinda bullshit. A hundred years ago, a woman in pants was stepping way outside of gender norms. But we didn’t all become gender non-conforming, we just changed the norm.

      • GrnieWnie says:

        chimes@midnight I just listened to a lesbian woman who said she liked to look butch and always lusted after a muscular physique on Fresh Air. Terry asked her if she questioned her gender identity. She was basically like “nope, I’m female, I worked hard to be recognized as a gay woman and that’s what I am.” I really like that: she discarded gender norms but not her gender.

        So I’m not sure that gender non-conforming is the only option here. Maybe our gender can just be limited to whatever it is in the most minimal sense…a feeling or perhaps nothing more than our sex organs. So we identify by our feeling/sex organs and everything else is just…individual preference. I think that’s my utopia: everyone is an individual and all individuals should be accepted.

    • Sandii says:

      I have very similar feelings about it. To a certain degree it feels like a cop out from how gender roles are defined but more in a wishful thinking way than in trying to change society and expectations.

      • sassafras says:

        Yes. It’s like first wave feminism just advocating for “tomboys” to play sports or “smart women” to attend university. Saying, “we have a spectrum of women and some of them would like to be identified as “Dr.” and some would like ‘Mrs.”

        This approach was, of course, to placate conservatives and we still got results (hey Title IX) and improved a lot of things. But we know better now that intersectional feminism, more inclusive feminism, results in everyone being lifted up.

        We should learn from feminism and recognize that we need intersectional genderism, which is basically deconstructing patriarchy, which improves male lives, female lives and all lives. To insist that someone is “nonbinary” is still a nod to “binary” which is a construct of patriarchy and colonialism.

      • Sam the Pink says:

        That is what I struggle with – how do you define yourself in relation to the binary when the binary can change – depending on time, where you are in the world, etc.? It’s so reactionary and odd to me. My oldest goes to school with a young man who one day opted to start wearing skirts to school and makeup pretty regularly, and now states they are non-binary. And I’m trying to not be a jerk here, but I do question – what if, as time goes on, skirt and makeup wearing among males becomes more socially permissible and that gender norm weakens? Well, then, does this child revert back to being “male” because those behaviors have “crossed the binary” so to speak? Like, how does this work? It just seems like a lot of this is still constrained by defining yourself in relation to the binary, so it just perpetuates more of the same. Wouldn’t it be healthier to have a society that simply acknowledges biological sex as a thing and then uncouples it from personal and self expression?

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      I’m with you 100%. I realize I’ll be blasted for being reductive or maybe passively aggressive and closed-minded, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think the non-binary and pronoun speak is reductive and self-absorbed…some current eclectic-ese adopted to be more than, larger than and not a singular entity, which, sorry…I am a human being. One person, not many.

      I’ve always known my female-male percentages were almost indiscriminate, but that doesn’t make me dichotomous or duplicitous or plural in any way. My one brain identifies with loving across the board however. I have range. Always have known I lived openly and never questioned my singularity as a being without needing descriptives to identify with or crutches to prop me up publicly as I proclaim to be more than and not simply.

      You’re right. It’s a layered conversation. And one which is monumentally misunderstood, imo. I won’t tear down someone’s journey, but I won’t shove my feelings and my personal journey under a rug either. I’ve been fighting these notions long before they and them. I am me and I, and that means everything and any identity with which I live. Then, now and in the future.

      • GrnieWnie says:

        me too, this is pretty much exactly my feelings. I hope we can encourage all young people to just be who they are and discard gender norms…and not worry about what that says about their gender identity. You can be female and have short hair and wear men’s clothes (or vice versa) and not bring your gender identity into question. Just be you unapologetically.

        ETA: I wonder how much of current discourse about gender derives from gay marriage. Because discourse about gay marriage initially rejected it because it would mean gay people were conforming to this heterosexual construct. But because many civil rights were configured around marriage, they ended up going for it so they could access the rights. Yet at the same time, the gay community was also aware that their acceptance of the institution of marriage reinforced its central importance in society — enabling states to continue to use it as a legal basis, which is what restricted gay rights in the first place! (I listened to some lawyer who did a lot of work on legalizing gay marriage talk about this).

        It feels like gender identity is sort of going the same direction…trying to co-opt conventional gender norms but reinforcing them at the same time. Maybe a couple generations from now, we’ll sort it out properly.

    • Betsy says:

      What’s interesting to me is that your post is not the first time I’ve heard this take, that people putting negative experiences on (in the accounts I’ve read) the bodies of young cis-women drives dis-satisfaction with the body a person inhabits. Like I have read accounts like yours a lot, and it saddens me that so many women aren’t dis-satisfied with their bodies so much as they are wounded by the way other people interact with them (telling someone that gendered physical pain isn’t a big deal when it clearly is a big deal is a BFD).

      We really need to address the sexism and misogyny rampant in our society.

      • blinkbanana says:

        Agreed. I feel like we’re all ignoring the patriarchal, misogynistic elephant in the room by creating new labels, rather than tackling what it means to be a “womxn,” what is it to be “female,” in the eyes of a toxic patriarchy none of us can escape from. There’s a huge underlying problem here with definitions of femininity, and its perceived weakness. It feels like an erasure of “womxn” somehow, as though some people would rather call themselves non-binary than be associated with being female. It’s a distancing tool and I’m not sure where it’s all going

    • Ann says:

      I understand what you mean. I feel like I do fully identify as female, but that doesn’t mean I accept every attribute that has been assigned to that gender. For example, I’m often surprised by women my age, especially those with kids, who say they love the book “The Giving Tree.” I hate the message of that book and I’ve hated it since long before I had kids or thought about having them. I mean, imagine if the tree had been male and not female (it’s called “she” in the book). Would people have thought it touching or beautiful if “he” let the son chop him down to a stump and then been happy just to have said son sit on him? I doubt it, somehow.

      Maybe I’m missing the message of the book, idk. It always made me uncomfortable. As did the notion that women shouldn’t be funny, or crude, or rambunctious. And men have their own set of unfair expectations. Gender has been warped as a concept. Anyway, good for Demi Lovato. I hope they feel better for having spoken out.

    • Ashley says:

      YES.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Lola – STANDING OVATION. You worded that beautifully and ITA. I haven’t been brave enough to say those things but I you’re on point with all of it.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      I agree with this. I feel like the whole feminine/masculine/non-binary idea is fraught because it tends to behave as though gender norms are set, when in reality, gender norms are fluid. Like, for example, clothing. There was a long period in human history where men wore clothing that would today be coded as “”feminine.” My son came home one day from school (my kids attend a Christian school) and incredulously informed me that in the drawings he saw, “Jesus wore a dress.” And I explained to him that it’s not a dress, it’s a tunic, but yeah, it kind of looked like a dress and men dressed that way then and clothing norms have changed a lot.

      That’s my concern with all this – gender “norms” in reality are in constant flux and subject to the forces that create change. For example, if you’re non-binary now, could the norms shift enough that over time your identity no longer works in the way it used to? What happens then? Do you have to change your pronouns? Does your identity get thrown into crisis?

      • chimes@midnight says:

        Sam the Pink, as an aside in a very serious conversation, I kind of want “Jesus wore dresses” on a bumper sticker. :-)

    • Zina says:

      “I’ve never met a woman in my whole entire life who has been fully comfortable and fully identified with female gender roles.”

      I respectfully disagree with this. I am old as well, grew up in a socialist country where gender equality was a fact, although the r infrastructure was pitiful, it existed, your career wasn’t less because you were a woman – same salary on same position – and the state had interest to provide care for your children – all free of charge – because it wanted to keep you at work. We all had latch key children and they grew up to be independent and successful.
      I enjoyed being a woman as well – maybe it’s cultural but I remember men were courteous and flirting flew freely and I had a blast.
      Maybe I was just wired differently by the system but while there were huge problems I never felt less or oppressed by men.
      But again, I have no experience of a work experience or life in a western society.

    • tealily says:

      The way I see it is that it really is none of my business what other people want to be called and it’s not my place to tell them who they are. I agree with a lot of what you said, and it sometimes selfishly makes me a little sad when someone I see as a great female role model shares that they identify as something else. But the bottom line is that I’m happy to call you what you’d like me to.

    • Emma says:

      Great comment Lola. I agree with do much that everyone is saying here, a refreshing perspective, thank you

    • mynameispearl says:

      You articulated what I am always trying to say and ask.

    • sassafras says:

      Thank you for putting into words the way I feel about this… mostly.

      Of course I agree with showing everyone respect – whatever names/ pronouns/ clothes/ identity someone wants to take on, that is their choice and we must honor it.

      But… I feel like non-binary people are the natural progression of… feminism and the deconstruction of the patriarchy.

      As a woman who was assigned “female” because of my biology, I have not always felt comfortable in my skin, with the roles assigned to me, with a lot of shit the patriarchy gave me to carry. Most of the time I like men but I can appreciate snuggling with a woman. I basically identify as David Rose. I don’t want to watch sports, I like skin care, but I want to wear black combat boots and designer bags.

      And… OKAY? …so?

      Part of me is old and thinks the Youths are just inventing something that already exists – nonbinary is just being an individual who is rejecting heteronormativity and the patriarchy. And part of me appreciates that a new generation can also lead a new movement.

    • mostly lurking says:

      thank you lola, i also struggle with this. to me it implies that women who do not choose to transition or identify as something else are somehow ok with gender roles. my dear friend is a butch lesbian who is often being asked if she is going to transition and people are continually surprised she “identifies” as a woman. this is very hurtful to her. not sure if it has always been this way but gender theory seems increasingly regressive and constricting.

      • Anna says:

        Really feel this. I so appreciate what everyone is writing in comments, and I completely agree with our need to completely rethink gender and look at the history and the science, and to be mindful of these differences in expression. I identify as she/they and like another poster above, I’ve been skirting the edges, so to speak, in my life, expression and loves, since before there was “they/them” even as terminology.

        And also I think about Black women in this country in particular (U.S.) who have to fight every minute for their rights and for Black people in this country period to be seen as human (that wasn’t always the case). I treasure my BIPOC women family who identify as women and bears the scars and the history and the fight for rights that being a Black woman, a BIPOC woman, entails. I just can’t jettison “woman” especially not as a Black woman as if we haven’t fought just to be seen as such.

  5. Amanda says:

    I wonder if say 100 years from now, gendered pronouns will be completely dropped from the English language? A lot of languages don’t have them, and language is constantly evolving. Likely won’t happen completely in my lifetime though, perhaps in the younger generations.

    • Renata says:

      I really think thats the solution now. Young people don’t seem to understand that nobody embodies gender as it’s socially prescribed. Some might be able to perform it better than others but we are all non-binary where gender is concerned. Maybe gender neutral pronouns for everyone will drive that home.

    • Ann says:

      That’s a great point, that a lot of languages don’t have them. One of the most interesting things about learning a new language is discovering what it does NOT include, or things it does include that are not part of the English language.

      There are languages that don’t include verb tenses, for example, which I find fascinating. Someone on this site pointed out a while ago, on another post, that Vietnamese has no word for “I.” No personal pronoun! Imagine growing up without using the word “I” to express yourself/. To me, it seems as much a cultural as a linguistic thing. Or I suppose the two reinforce each other.

      And because I can’t resist a Game Of Thrones reference: “There is no word for ‘thank you’ in Dothraki.”

  6. Robyn says:

    Good for them! I hope this brings them a little more peace in their recovery and healing.

    Alok is a great follow on IG as well, if you are looking to learn more about gender expression and they turn amazing looks!

  7. Runaway says:

    What a good podcast to watch, I really respect them and I’ll admit that they spoke to me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Even as a queer woman I’ve struggled with the non-binary pronouns, as I’ve felt grammatically they feel queer in my mouth (and not the good kind of queer) but as Alok pointed out that’s stupid and if it helps someone else feel a little more accepted in this tough world, get over it.
    I would never deny someone their right to self expression in person but in private I did struggle. I’ll get over it.
    That was a really good podcast, I’m glad I watched it.

  8. AMJ says:

    I’ve never “felt like a woman”. I don’t identify with “feminity”. I despise the grotesque painted-doll or long-suffering martyr image of it that patriarchy expects of us. I like my female biology, but it put me in a place in society where I’m supposed to be fine with things that don’t sit right with me. My biology is being used against me, to take away my choices and agency. I’ve always lived my life doing the same things as my male peers, but what you get in return is societal disapproval and verbal or physical violence. I get people not wanting to identify as female, because being female means being disadvantaged regardless of everything else that one is.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      I always say I never knew I was female until I got pregnant. I think the vast majority of us all simply see ourselves as individuals. Gender only comes into it when it comes to how we are treated by others. I’m happy with my female biology too, but that’s all it is — it’s my biology, not my cognition or identity.

    • RandomPerson says:

      I considered myself a woman because of my female reproductive system. But then I grew up, lived and learned a little bit to realize that woman refers to roles and behaviors imposed from the top with an agenda. Men also have their imposed roles. My hope is that we can all start to see through these imposed norms, roles, and behaviors that have nothing to do with nature or divine order but with human patriarcal agenda.

    • Anna says:

      All of this @AMJ

  9. nicegirl says:

    Love this post. Thank you Celebitchy

  10. Amelie says:

    I’m still getting used to they/them referring to a single person and not a collective group. Some Youtuber couple I occasionally follow who adhere to a polyamorous lifestyle (jury’s out if that is actually working for them) had a baby awhile ago and have constantly referred to their baby as they. Every single time they did it I kept expecting to see twins or multiple babies. I’m more used to it now but it was very jarring at first. The baby is a boy and has a boy name but as parents they insisted on not wanting to force gender norms on the baby so they keep referring to him as they. They said the baby could make its choice to use the pronouns it wanted when it got older. But I think it’s confusing to raise a baby while referring to it as they, but what do I know I guess?

    I will refer anyone to the pronouns they want me to use, though I hope they will understand I will 100% mess up at first but do my best. This makes me wonder though how languages that use gender a lot like romance languages will adapt. I speak French and there is no equivalent to they/them in French. It’s ils or elles, nothing in between. Apparently there are some gender neutral options that have cropped up in the last decade but they aren’t widely used and none are officially recognized. If you are non binary and your language doesn’t have a good default like they/them like in English, it makes it a lot harder for them to specify their identity.

    • Shirt scene says:

      What about the pronoun “on”? It’s general meaning is one or a non-gendered we/you/they. I’m no expert, but it seems that would suffice for those who identify as non-binary in French cultures.

      • Commonwealthy sounded witty at first says:

        I love “on” generally, but it uses singular masculine conjugation so may not work for non-binary people.
        My African language is gender neutral EXCEPT for the verb “to marry” – a man marries, a woman gets married. So 90% of the time a non-binary person would be covered, but just when talking about this huge personal subject they could (would?) be misgendered.
        The gender identity discussion is barely on the fringes of conversation in my part of the world (Africa excluding South Africa), we’re barely navigating sexual identity (don’t ask don’t tell seems to be the consensus position from LGBTQ people and our conservative societies – a vestige of colonialism, which erased our acceptance of a wide spectrum of sexuality, and gender for that matter). I used to share my pronouns (she/her) but pronouns got so politicized last year that I removed them just so I wouldn’t be claiming a culture war position that I can’t fully explain or contextualize in my lived reality. I absolutely respect other people’s pronouns though. Whatever makes you feel good and seen, I’ll use.

  11. KNy says:

    I hope Demi is able to find peace with themself. They have always seemed so troubled. This was very interesting to read. I have a cousin who is NB and I guess I always assumed my cousin’s presentation was typical for NB people (fairly androgynous). It was educating to learn the difference between NB and gender non-conforming. Because of my cousin it didn’t occur to me that someone can be NB and present wholly masculine or feminine. I definitely interchanged NB and GNC in my head.

  12. Chelsea says:

    As someone who’s been a fan of Demi’s for about a decade its been really interesting to watch them come to terms with who they are. Im reminded of an interview they did back in 2015 where they got very cagey about their sexuality and the aftermath of the fiasco a couple years before when Ruby Rose outed that they hooked up on Instagram and it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come. Demi did an interview recently with their friend Lauren Aubedini aka Kittens, who they were linked to in 17, where they talk about coming to terms with their sexuality amd it was really good and worth a watch as well.

    I know Demi can be messy at times and doesn’t always get it right but in 2013 when i was in a state of depression so bad i didn’t leave my house for a month and almost dropped out of college Demi’s example of talking about your issues and seeking treatment helped push me to get therapy. I know a lot of other young people have been helped by Demi’s candidness on mental health and I’m sure there are some who will be helped by this so I’m really proud of them. And given the fact that they haven’t really mentioned or promoted their album since the week after it debuted i can definitely see that they are beyond caring about the charts, even though the album debuted at #2, and are focusing on their own health and happiness. Demi used to obsess about that stuff and work an unhealthy amount so I’m happy for them.

  13. Meaghan L says:

    The singular use of they/they has always been in use when the gender of the person is unknown.

    Someone dropped THEIR wallet. I feel bad for THEM. I hope THEY get is back.

    • sassafras says:

      Right? I use it that way all the time. “I got an email. They said…” I don’t know why it’s hard for people to use consistently for people they don’t know. Now, I will admit to not using it consistently for newly trans people in my life but there is a period of adjustment when you actually know someone and your brain reaches for a certain pronoun out of habit.

      And just as a side note, I find it interesting that Demi’s name LITERALLY means “half” so… that’s cool?

    • Zantasia says:

      Exactly! It got me so mad in school when a teacher would say “no, you use he instead of they” when in this situation. In real life, people use they!

  14. ensi says:

    Okay, I just popped in here for a second because, whew, some of these comments.

    1) Gender noncomformity is about whether the way you dress or otherwise present yourself matches the traditional view of how your gender is supposed to dress or act. It doesn’t mean your gender is wrong or anything.

    2) Trans/nonbinary people basically experience gender dysphoria (feeling like their body doesn’t match their gender, like their gender-specific clothing is wrong, like it’s wrong when they’re perceived as their assigned gender, etc) or gender euphoria (feeling super duper great when you’re addressed as your correct gender, when you get medical treatment [hormones, surgery, etc] that make your body change to better fit your gender, feeling a sense of rightness when you put on the ‘right’ gender clothing, makeup, etc). This is really different than feeling sad because your gender is traditionally oppressed (eg, ‘I feel bad about being a girl because Bobby in baseball said girls shouldn’t be allowed to play).

    2a) ‘Nonbinary’ isn’t a third gender. There isn’t ‘girl, boy, nonbinary’. It’s a huge range, from agender to genderfluid to people who don’t completely ID as one binary gender or another but will caucus with one in a pinch.

    2b) Also, there are plenty of nonbinary people out there who were AMAB (assigned male at birth). Being nonbinary isn’t being woman-lite.

    2c) Also also, it’s not a ‘young people’ thing. And I don’t mean like ancient cultures, I mean: there are nonbinary people I know who are in their 50s and 60s, who were IDing as nonbinary since the 1970s, who were part of nonbinary communities when Stonewall happened. It’s not ‘kids these days just want attention’.

    3) There are certainly people who use neopronouns such as ze/zir or xie/xem or others. They’re free to do so (I am genuinely happy for them!). I personally use they/them because, since ‘they’ was a preexisting word that I used, to me it felt more comfortable. It felt reassuring that there *were* words for what I was, that I wasn’t a freak.

    3a) ‘They’ has been used as a singular pronoun since before Shakespeare’s time. If someone said ‘They left their wallet at the table!’, you would use context (‘wallet’ instead of ‘wallets’) to assume that the person speaking only meant one person. Now, I know it’s wild, but you can actually use context to figure out that only one person is being talked about when nonbinary people come up.

    3b) Some people who used to use neopronouns stopped using them and switched to ‘they’ because some cis people told them it was too complicated or hard to use neopronouns. There’s no fucking winning here.

    3c) It’s not ‘preferred pronouns’, it’s just ‘pronouns’. There are some exceptions–like when someone says ‘you can use he, she, or they for me!’, you can ask them if they have a preference. But otherwise it’s not ‘preferred’, it’s just ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’.

    4) Over the last few years, there has been a spate of transphobia that’s moved offline to the point that governments everywhere, from UK to the states, have started introducing a lot of anti-trans laws that would seriously harm trans people (especially kids) and will literally lead to trans people dying. (For examples, google the recent bills in Tennessee and Texas, or the changes to medical care for trans kids in the UK). I don’t know how to explain to y’all that me using pronouns that are correct for me does not harm the ‘LGB community’, but I will say that that rhetoric is currently being used by people who are advocating for conversion therapy for trans people, who literally want trans people not to exist.

    5) I understand that a lot of people don’t ‘get’ nonbinary people. That’s cool. I don’t get people who don’t like cats. I can totally ask people ‘how come you don’t like cats?’ in an effort to understand them, and that’s not rude at all. But there’s ‘I don’t get it, can you explain it?’ and then there’s ‘I don’t get it, so here’s my idea of what it is, and it’s wrong and actively harmful’. Because, you know what’s kind of awful? Coming to a gossip website, as a nonbinary person who’s really excited that another nonbinary person found the courage and support they needed to be open to the world about who they are, and who will doubtless inspire nonbinary kids who live in unsurpportive environments and may be on the verge of suicide–coming on here and seeing ‘Well, I’ll grudgingly use their preferred pronouns, but actually my experience of gender is different and I haven’t actually tried listening to what nonbinary people have to say, so I don’t think being nonbinary actually a thing that exists, and this ‘ideology’ is actively harming people’. It is actually exhausting, seeing that.

    I’m just saying.

    • Maria says:

      Thank you for this comment. Summed up what I wanted to say but couldn’t find the words.

    • caela says:

      Yes to all of this. Thank you for being so eloquent.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      +1000. Thank you for that thoughtful yet brave post. You’ve brought up some good points to remember.

    • Jenn says:

      Great post.

    • Anna says:

      This is all great. Thank you for taking time to detail all of this. Just want to register one item that disturbed me, the example “This is really different than feeling sad because your gender is traditionally oppressed (eg, ‘I feel bad about being a girl because Bobby in baseball said girls shouldn’t be allowed to play).” More like, I feel bad about being a girl because I might get murdered. x10 if you’re also Black. It’s just a bit more serious than Bobby in baseball though of course that is not to be dismissed because that’s where the conditioning begins.

      • Lola says:

        Don’t worry, Anna. I think this was a response to my comment, and my description of being sexually assaulted as a 9 year old by multiple adult men due to my female physical traits, and the self-mutilation I engaged in from then on to minimize those traits.

        For some reason, ensi felt that charcterizing my trauma as “sad that my gender is traditionally oppressed” and minimizing my experience of childhood sexual abuse as akin to “Bobby excluding me from baseball” was the most satisfying way they could make their points.

        Dear ensi, please keep in mind that kids (and adults) who you DON’T identify with get suicidal too, and when they see this kind of derision, it can be unbelievably harmful.

        People are struggling on all sides of these incredibly complex topics of sex and gender and it’s not okay to minimize what has happened to the struggling people who you don’t identify with instead of being respectful to those who have had different traumatic experiences.

        Also, I was pretty specific that I don’t identify with a gender and never have, so with respect, please don’t tell me I’m “sad about my gender.”

  15. Ali says:

    Honestly years ago I knew it was a matter of time

  16. Sigmund says:

    I’m happy for them. Demi seems to have been struggling a long time, and hasn’t seemed to be in a good place after the overdose. I hope this is one step toward finding some peace.

  17. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I want to say, before the day is over, thank you Celebitchy and its bitches for this thread. It had me thinking all day, and I believe it’s been my favorite to date. And if anyone had ever said to me that a Demi Lovato thread would set a precedent in my brain, I would’ve choked with laughter. Thank you!

  18. Angh says:

    Demi seems like a good enough person but l still find them exhausting.