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Pop Star’s Choice of Pronouns Strikes a Chord

August 05, 2022

Human nature is to categorize things in our world, but Demi Lovato’s recent admission that her gender identity changes based on her mood defies that innate desire.

The pop star announced last year that she identifies as non-binary, meaning a blend of male and female qualities. She began using the gender-neutral pronouns they/them. Recently, however, she admitted her identity is not as easily or permanently defined, and added the pronouns she/her to they/them.

“I’m such a fluid person. Recently, I’ve been feeling more feminine, and so I’ve adopted she/her again,” Lovato relayed in a podcast interview.

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The news, while confusing for those with an appreciation for neat categorization, underscores the fluidity of gender definitions.

“It’s always important to recognize the individuality of each person. Fluidity for one person may be different than for another. For some individuals, the fluidity can and may fluctuate regularly with one feeling more ‘feminine’ one day and ‘gender neutral’ the next. It is hard to compare these experiences for each person as they are unique,” said Derek Fenwick, PsyD, clinical coordinator of the Right Track/LGBTQ Specialty track in Young Adult Services at the Institute of Living, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

It is possible, he said, for transgender and nonbinary people, who do not identify as male or female, to use multiple pronouns and interchange them at different times.

“We always talk about the importance of ‘trying it on’ when we work with people in the LGBTQ+ community,” Dr. Fenwick said of pronouns. “Similar to when we, as adolescents, had to figure out our identity and learn about who we are, what we like, what feels right regarding identity, when individuals are more fluid or going through a social transition, we want them to ‘try on’ and use different pronouns to see what fits and feels right.”

Each person has to decide such gender identity for themselves, he added.

“Nobody can tell them. It is all a learning process each of us undergoes throughout life. Honestly, kudos to Demi for being more open about it and letting the world see her journey,” Dr. Fenwick said.

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