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Sam Smith misgendered by Associated Press in story about their pronouns


Sam Smith attends GQ Men Of The Year Awards 2019. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Hugo Boss)

Non-binary singer Sam Smith, who has asked friends and family to use their they/them pronouns, has been misgendered by the Associated Press in an article reporting on their pronouns.

“Sam Smith has declared his pronouns ‘they/them’ on social media after coming out as non-binary,” the first line of the AP article read when it was first published.

The AP then corrected the article, without clarification or apology, but instead of using the singer’s correct pronouns the publication omitted pronouns entirely until the last paragraphs.

.@AP‘s report delegitimizes non-binary people & their pronouns fails to educate cisgender folks.

Many in media say using they/them confuses readers (LGBTQ ones be damned?) yet refuse to use their power to get audiences familiar. It’s lazy journalism.

— ashley dye (@ashleycdye) September 13, 2019

This follows UK newspaper The Sun, which first broke the news of Sam Smith’s pronouns request, also managing to misgender the singer in the first line of its story.

The Sun reported that the ‘Dancing with a Stranger’ star allegedly made the request to their close circle after coming out as non-binary and genderqueer six months ago.

“This is a decision Sam has thought long and hard about, including doing a lot of reading on up it,” an anonymous source, said to be a friend of Smith’s, told The Sun.

But the first line of The Sun story read: “Singer Sam Smith has asked friends and family to no longer refer to him by gender – instead using to use ‘they’ rather than ‘he’.”

In an open letter, published on World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September), UK trans kids charity Mermaids highlighted that making simple, easy changes to the way we treat trans people in society can prevent trans children and teenagers from having suicidal thoughts.

Consistently using the correct name and pronouns for trans people can reduce their rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts to almost the same levels as their cisgender counterparts.

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