Sam Smith has revealed he identifies as non-binaryÂ saying he feels â€œlike a woman sometimesâ€ and has considered having a sex change.
During an interview with Jameela JamilÂ on Instagram TV, the British singer spoke about listening to conversationsÂ about being non-binary and realising that is how he identified.
â€œWhen I saw the word â€˜non-binaryâ€™, â€˜genderqueerâ€™, and I read into it, and I heard these people speaking I was like, â€˜F***, that is meâ€™,â€ he told the presenter.
â€œIâ€™m not male or female, I think I flow somewhere in between. Itâ€™s all on the spectrum,â€ he continued.
He added that he had always resented being â€œfeminine in many waysâ€ and describes being non-binary as being â€œyour own special creationâ€.
But, what exactly does it mean to be non-binary? And how can parents help explain the term to their little ones and support children who do identify as non-binary?
What does it mean to be non-binary?
Sam Smith described the term as being a â€œmixture of all different thingsâ€, but being non-binary can mean different things to different people.
People who identify as non-binary may identify as a combination of different genders or as none at all, as the National Centre for Transgender EqualityÂ explains.
â€œPeople whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common,â€ it states.
Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender and more.
â€œNon binary is the term used by people who do not identify with traditionally binary (male or female) roles, instead they take a more fluid approach to their gender,â€ explainsÂ Dr Helen Webberley who runsÂ GenderGP.co.uk, a websiteÂ providing healthcare, support and information for transgender, non-binary and gender questioning individuals and those who care for them.
â€œSometimes a non binary person may feel more male, sometimes more female, or they may find themselves somewhere in the middle.â€
Dr Webberley says some people are aware of thisÂ â€˜differenceâ€™ from a very early age but often they are not quite sure what it means for them or how to explain it to others, which can make things confusing for everyone involved.
â€œA personâ€™s non binary status is Â oftenÂ expressed in their Â choice of clothing and a preference for gender non specific language and lifestyle choices,â€ she continues.Â
â€œNames and pronouns can cause difficulties as the use of â€˜heâ€™Â orÂ â€˜sheâ€™ just doesnâ€™t feel right for the non binary person, equally, the often preferred pronouns of non binary people: â€˜theyâ€™ andÂ â€˜themâ€™, can feel strange for others to use when referring to an individual,â€ she adds.Â
How can parents support children who identify as non-binary?
Historically we often assumed that everyone is either biologically male or female, but over the years we have become increasingly aware that not all children feel they are the sex or gender that matches their birth sex.
But thinking outside those traditional girl/boy boxes can be quite daunting for some parents, and often they are unsure how to support children in their gender or non-gender journeys.Â Â
â€œAs a young person develops, the best support that can be given isÂ to allow them to exploreÂ their gender identity and gender expression in whatever wayÂ sits best with them,â€ advises Dr Webberley.
â€œListen. Do not dismiss their feelings â€“ just because this is not something you have come across before does not mean it is not valid.Â
â€œInforming yourself is an excellent way to begin to understand what it means to be non binary.Â There are plenty of excellent resources available including: mermaids.org,â€ she adds.Â
Jennifer Toll, Psychologist and Founder of NotJustAPrincess.co.uk advises parents to always offer their children all the options.
â€œTry not to be limited by your own preconceived ideas about what the genders should do or be,â€ she says.
â€œTreat kids as little humans before they are anything else. It also really helps to keep talking to your children about how they feel. Supporting, listening and making any choice feel OK and comfortable can be really helpful and empowering for them.â€
Dr Webberley has provided some tips on how to support children who are questioning their gender.
â€“ Be ready to understand, listen and hear what your child is trying to explain to you.Â
â€“ Read up as much as you can so that you can help your child and answer other peopleâ€™s questions.Â
â€“ Prepare some responses and answers for when you may be challenged on the validity of your childâ€™s non-binary gender identity.Â
â€“ Become a fierce advocate for your child at home, in school and in town.Â
â€“ Let them know that you support them wherever they are and whatever they are feeling.
The conversation surrounding gender in childhood has been receiving more attention recently.
Last year a parentâ€™s explanation to their child about what it means to identify as non-binary w ent viral on Twitter, with many people impressed with the message of acceptance.
And back in 2017, musician Paloma Faith hit headlines after announcing she would be raising her baby as gender neutral.
She later opened up to Yahoo UK in an exclusive interview where she explained what this meant for her.
â€œThe singer isnâ€™tÂ raising her child without telling them their gender; instead, she simply wants to â€™empowerâ€™ her child by not giving them gendered toys or clothing.
â€œItâ€™s wrong to constrain your child to a gender stereotype,â€ she explains. â€œA child just needs to be who they are and not labelled. MyÂ nephews always had a pushchair and a doll, growing up, and theyâ€™re kind boys with a lot of empathy.â€
The NHS has a great guide to parents supporting children through gender issues.Â
There is also a wide range of information and support on the GIDS website.