Demi Lovato Made A Powerful Point About Getting Pronouns Wrong

A year after sharing that They/Them were the pronouns that felt most right, Demi Lovato says that both She/Her and They/Them are accurate ways to describe her gender. (And, spoiler: That’s totally normal for non-binary people!)

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While the singer and Camp Rock star had previously changed the pronouns listed on her instagram to reflect this, they opened up about it on the Sprout podcast with Tamara Dhia more recently.

“Yeah, so, they/them is… I’ve actually adopted the pronouns of she/her again.” Demi says, “For me, I’m such a fluid person that … I felt like, especially last year, my energy was balanced in my masculine and feminine energy so that when I was faced with the choice of walking into a bathroom and it said ‘women’ and ‘men,’ I didn’t feel like there was a bathroom for me because I didn’t feel necessarily like a woman. I didn’t feel like a man. I just felt like a human.”

As someone who also uses she/they pronouns, explaining a bit of Demi’s situation isn’t unfamiliar for me personally or professionally. A lot of times it comes down to wanting to have the parts of your identity be understood and to better understand it yourself — and that can mean there’s some trial and error, learning and growth along the way to finally reach the words that feel less restricting and more authentically like you. 

“That’s what they/them is about for me. It’s just about, like, feeling human at your core,” Lovato continued. “Recently, I’ve been feeling more feminine, and so I’ve adopted she/her again.”

To be clear, it can be challenging for people who haven’t had a lot of experience talking or thinking about gender (beyond the cisgender experience)to fully understand how the answer to a question that seems to be “are you X or Y?” can be “yes, both.” And they might incorrectly think of including she/her pronouns as a “reversal” of Demi’s coming out. But that’s not the case. 

And that’s why it’s helpful to have people like Demi and other non-binary folks share their experiences to help make the path make more sense for other folks who are grappling with the same questions. Once you know that gender, like so many parts of your identity, is something you grow and cultivate a deeper understanding of over time — you also start to live and think more openly about all the different ways it can take shape in yourself and in others. Which can mean being both a She and a They. 

Pronouns have become a bit of a punchline in some circles — like they’re a burdensome thing to incorporate or address in day-to-day life. And they can also make some people (particularly parents being introduced to the concepts by their kids) feel anxious about making mistakes or offending someone along the way.  

“Everyone messes up pronouns at some point, and especially when people are learning. It’s just all about respect.”

“I think what’s important is, like, nobody’s perfect,” Demi says about this common part of the process. “Everyone messes up pronouns at some point, and especially when people are learning. It’s just all about respect.”

And, as the Trevor Project’s 2021 Guide on being an ally to trans and non-binary youth notes: “Purposefully misgendering is not OK, and you can be a good ally by standing up for others if you witness someone being harassed for their gender. If you misgender someone by accident, apologize swiftly without making an excessive show out of the mistake or your guilt, which can create even more discomfort for the person who has been misgendered. Show that you care by doing better moving forward.”

So it helps to know that when someone clarifies their pronouns in the wild, just like when someone gives you their name or tells you anything about them, it’s a sign of respect (like Demi says) to note it and do your best to remember it. It can help to think of it along the same lines as learning someone’s name:  If someone says “Hi, my name is Steve” and you go “Oh, I think you look like a Jim. I’m going to call you Jim forever,” you’re being rude and weird. If you mistakenly use the wrong name, you don’t fall over yourself apologizing or doubling-down on your error, you just go “Oh, sorry, my bad” and correct yourself moving forward. No one demands perfection, just compassion. And it’s just an extension of normal manners, really! 

And, ultimately, this all aligns with what Demi has been saying: It’s okay to explore the many different fluid parts of who you are and, at times, to not get it all in your first round of research and exploration. The most important thing is to open yourself up to the multi-faceted possibilities of a person’s identity, not get too hung up on the need to get it all right in one go and normalize not making it weird as we all learn together. 

Before you go, check out our favorite mental health apps for giving your brain some TLC: 

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