Through their “healing and self-reflective work” over the past year and a half, Lovato said that they had had “the revelation that I identify as non-binary,” sharing clips of the podcast to their social media feeds.
“I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and am still discovering,” said Lovato in a video clip posted to their Twitter. “Today is a day I’m so happy to share more of my life with you all,” they wrote. “I’m doing this for those out there that haven’t been able to share who they truly are with their loved ones. Please keep living in your truths & know I am sending so much love your way.”
In an interview with Glamour in March earlier this year, Lovato said, “I know who I am and what I am, but I’m just waiting until a specific timeline to come out to the world as what I am.” They added that they felt “too queer” to be with a cisgender man at this time, in reference to calling off their engagement. Later that month, they shared that they were pansexual in a podcast interview.
Lovato has been a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights throughout their career—in 2016 while touring with Nick Jonas, they canceled a gig in North Carolina in protest of the state’s HB2 law, which at the time required transgender people to use the bathroom for the gender assigned to them at birth.
Experts say there is a lack of robust data around how many trans and nonbinary people are living in the U.S. Last year’s U.S. census did not include any questions about gender identity, and the only options available to record a respondent’s sex were “male” or “female.”
But Lovato’s announcement comes as there has been greater understanding and visibility of nonbinary people in public life in recent years, including TIME’s 2017 cover Beyond He or She: The Changing Meaning of Gender and Sexuality, which featured portraits of and interviews with young nonbinary people. In March 2019, British singer Sam Smith shared that they are nonbinary, and described being nonbinary as being “your own special creation”.
Lovato’s announcement also comes amid an onslaught of physical and legislative attacks against the transgender and gender non-conforming community more broadly. Last year was the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the U.S., and this year, 33 states have introduced more than 100 bills targeting the rights of trans people, ranging from access to healthcare to participation in sports.