Sam Smith ‘knew they weren’t a man’ age five: ‘I’ve always been non-binary’

Sam Smith wearing a glittery vest top performs with a microphone

Sam Smith explained how they have always been non-binary in a new interview with Michelle Visage.

Speaking to the Drag Race judge on her BBC Sounds Rule Breakers show, Smith said they “think [they’ve] always been non-binary, always been queer” even if they didn’t always have the language to express it.

They recalled a time when they went swimming at “four or five years old”, and began to understand that they didn’t fit into the gender binary.

“I remember…you go to where the changing rooms are and suddenly, your life splits into these two rooms; the male and female changing room,” Smith, now 30, explained.

“I remember that moment, even though I was so young, I remember feeling this is just not right… and that I wasn’t a man.”

Sam Smith said they found the experience of growing up at school, in a gendered world, “really traumatic” and that it caused “huge amounts of shame”.

“That immediately made me bury a lot because even at a very young age, you know, there was a fear around me from people I knew of the thought that I’d be trans,” they said.

“But I always knew I was not either. What if it’s a spectrum, I’m floating around in the middle and it’s moving a lot.”

The “Unholy” hitmaker came out as non-binary back in 2019 at the age of 26. They told Visage that it wasn’t until that age that they had the words to describe how they felt.

“Someone told me about this thing called non-binary and they/them and all these things, and I was like oh my God, this is a place where I can exist and it was magical.

“Very very stressful and scary, but the minute I found those words and found this community, my inner peace was just still for the first time in years. It was incredible,” Smith said.

Sam Smith and Kim Petras

Kim Petras and Sam Smith recently became the first trans and non-binary artists to hit number one in the US. (Getty/Christopher Polk)

It was LGBTQ+ activist and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon who helped Smith come to terms with how they were feeling about their gender identity, explaining that what Smith was feeling was “very normal”.

“The war that was going on inside my body started to subside,” Smith said.

With furious attacks on trans and non-binary people continuing across both sides of the pond, Smith and Visage also touched on the uproar that seems to come with anyone identifying as non-binary.

“That’s the hardest part of this whole thing is that something that makes me feel so good and so happy can upset so many other people when there’s nothing being taken away.

“I think people need to come back to the joy that this is causing so many children and young people all over the world,” they added.

“The thing with they/them, it becomes this language culture war and that upsets me… we all learn ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’, we all learnt that, come on we can learn they/them.”

Last month, Smith made history with Kim Petras, becoming the first trans and non-binary artists to top the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.