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Demi Lovato, Sam Smith identify themselves as nonbinary. What does that mean?

'Nonbinary really can be so different from person to person,' Rex Barnes says
Posted at 3:31 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 16:50:49-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The word nonbinary may be a term that many of us are not familiar with, but it is something that you may start to hear more often.

The phrase to describe someone's sexuality sparked interest this week following the news that pop singer Demi Lovato now describes herself as nonbinary.

It has recently been more common to see people who identify as nonbinary use the pronoun "they/them."

Demi Lovato
FILE - Demi Lovato performs "Anyone" at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)

British singer Sam Smith has also described themself as nonbinary while songstress Miley Cyrus has described herself as genderfluid.

Actor Elliot Page announced this year he describes himself not only as transgender but also nonbinary.

So, what does it mean?

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) defines nonbinary and/or genderqueer as the following:

Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer.

What does it mean to be nonbinary?

Rex Barnes, the youth and family services coordinator at Compass Center in Lake Worth Beach, said there isn't a true definition of nonbinary.

"Being nonbinary really can be so different from person to person because essentially nonbinary means that you don't identify as male or female," Barnes said. "But there are so many people that are nonbinary that may identify as both male or female."

Barnes said a person may feel more male at one point but more female at other times or neither at all.

"So to say there's one true definition [for nonbinary], I don't think I could actually answer give you a true definition of nonbinary other than it's individuals who don't identify on the gender spectrum of male or female."

According to a 2015 survey by National Center for Transgender Equality, 35% of 27,715 transgender respondents identified as non-binary.