Sam Smith’s gender identity comes under attack from bigots after MTV VMAs nomination

Sam Smith sparked outrage among bigots after the MTV VMAs announced only female and non-binary artists in the line-up for the video of the year category.

Grammy award-winning artist Smith, who came out as non-binary in 2019, has regularly been targeted by transphobic trolls for simply existing as a genderqueer person. Over the years, they have faced fatphobic backlashes and constant misgendering, as well as being labelled “satanic” for their pop song “Unholy”, which featured trans trailblazer Kim Petras.

The MTV Video and Music Awards (VMAs) announced their historic slate of nominations on Wednesday (9 August). Women, non-binary and trans people dominated the three major categories (artist of the year, song of the year and video of the year), in a refreshing change from the usual male-dominated line-up.

The video nominees are Taylor Swift for “Anti-Hero”, SZA for “Kill Bill”, Olivia Rodrigo for “Vampire”, Miley Cyrus for “Flowers”, Doja Cat for “Attention”, Nicki Minaj for “Super Freaky Girl”, and Petras and Smith for “Unholy”.

Pop Base and Pop Crave reported that, for the first time ever, this category featured no men – leading to a fierce debate around Smith’s non-binary identity.

Many transphobic critics described the ground-breaking news as “peak delusion”, then referred to Smith using incorrect pronouns and smearing them as an “entitled, attention-seeking narcissist”.

I saw this and just shook my head…

Darlings, Sam Smith is a MAN! NON-BINARY IS NOT A THING!

ERGO….there is a MAN voted in this category. End of story.

These people in their delulu land with this gender nonsense and pronoun nonsense need help.

— 𝐑𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐚 𝐁𝐞𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐭𝐭 ᴾᵃʳᵒᵈʸ (@WordsByRisha) August 10, 2023

Non-binary or not…Sam Smith is literally right there

— Louis V (@Tiffy_Lou_Who) August 9, 2023

Several fans, however, have defended Smith and validated their identity.

“I love how Sam Smith being non-binary forces the s***ty transphobes to defend Sam’s masculinity in a way they never would for any other queer person,” one person wrote. “They’re out here like: ‘Sam Smith is a man with testosterone and a penis’. Please listen to yourselves, lol.”

Another wrote: “As a non-binary person, the comments sadden me. Sam Smith is non-binary. They don’t identify as man. Stop invalidating their gender.”

It’s insane how many people are saying non-binary isn’t a thing just because of Sam Smith like grow up lmao

— Ella (@espurrella) August 9, 2023

the amount of disgusting comments I have seen regarding sam smith who I don’t even stan is insane… they are not a male they are non binary stop it with the transphobia

— hunt (@szaririqueen) August 8, 2023

People wondering why they are saying no men are nominated in the Video of the Year category when Unholy is nominated. Sam Smith identifies as non-binary. This means they do not identify as male or female & use pronouns they/them.

— LAYO( ꪜ )ER 9.8.2023 | Tae𐤀oo𐤀 Fan Community (@Crazy4Myself23) August 9, 2023

Omg this is history! Also can people stop commenting in regarding to Sam Smith, they’re non-binary, educate yourself.

— Tomos Dafydd (he/him) (@thetomosdafydd) August 8, 2023

y’all are missing the point, if sam smith is non-binary then they’re still not a woman nor man. Pop Base isn’t saying “All women are nominated”.

— . (@drsirah) August 9, 2023

Despite not liking Sam Smith, this is pretty cool.

(also, all the super transphobic comments people on this app are having against Sam Smith – is your life that boring that all you can be is deplorable and hateful? Non-Binary People exist stfu and sit down)

— Con Riley (@Criles_) August 9, 2023

Smith and Petras’ video, released 10 months ago, features them performing at a cabaret club, and shows off glitzy outfits, raunchy moments and a diverse cast of dancers. It has been nominated in three other categories: song of the year, best direction and best visual effects.

It’s not the first time Smith has had to fight off hate for their recent music. Their devil-horned performance of “Unholy” at the Grammy Awards earlier this year caused a flurry of angry reaction from right-wing bigots.

Elsewhere, the video for “I’m Not Here to Make Friends”, which celebrated LGBTQ+ sex and queer bodies, also had angry trolls up in arms.

In an interview with Apple Music 1 in July, Petras spoke about how she and Smith “stuck together” through the barrage of vitriol and told of her sadness at the hate that Smith regularly receives.

The MTV VMAs will take place on 12 September.

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