When Sam Smith changed their pronouns to “they/them” in September, it made a huge impact — and not just for journalists who have to write stories about them. Merriam-Webster dictionary has chosen “They” as its Word of the Year, in part because of the attention Sam focused on it.
In its announcement, the company says, “Lookups for they increased by 313% in 2019 over the previous year,” because, it says, of the word’s new use as a way to “refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”
The company’s announcement goes on to say, “Nonbinary they was also prominent in the news in 2019…singer Sam Smith announced in September that they now use they and them as pronouns….it is increasingly common to see they and them as a person’s preferred pronouns in Twitter bios, email signatures, and conference nametags.”
Sam evidently approves: They retweeted a Billboard article reporting on the announcement.
Speaking to the November issue of Out magazine, Sam explained, “In changing my pronouns, I felt incredible freedom. It’s like a brick was lifted off my chest…My art has become truer and more honest after coming to peace with being nonbinary.”
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