Jess Glynne addresses past use of transphobic slur: ‘I didn’t know what the hell to do’

Jess Glynne wears a black dress with chest cutout and black hood.

British singer Jess Glynne has reflected on the uproar caused in March 2021 when she was recorded using a transphobic slur during an appearance on comedian Mo Gilligan’s podcast.

The clip, in which Glynne used the word “t****y” and joked about taking a male friend to a trans strip club and laughing at his reaction, swiftly went viral on social media.

LGBTQ+ people slammed the star for using the discriminatory term and displaying a blatant lack of respect for the trans community.

At the time, Glynne, 33, apologised for her comments in a since-deleted post, saying that her “own ignorance” had “ripped out a piece of [her] heart”.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Glynne has now revealed how she responded in the moment after realising she was being heavily criticised for using the derogatory term.

Jess Glynne sings into the microphone
Jess Glynne. (John Phillips/Getty Images)

“When that happened, I think I was terrified,” she said, adding that her queer friends immediately got in touch after they saw the clip. “I didn’t know what the hell to do… And I think I took a minute to be like, ‘OK, let me like, scream and cry and freak out.'”

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The “Hold My Hand” hitmaker explained that she decided to “retract from social media” following the controversy, only returning towards the end of 2022 to promote the start of her new album cycle.

In the days after her initial comments, Glynne was condemned for not immediately offering up a response or an apology for her remarks, but the singer has now explained that she had wanted to understand what she had said before saying sorry.

“I don’t believe in something bad happening and [just] going, ‘Oh sorry, I made a mistake’,” she said. “Especially with something that deep, you know, and [relating to] a community that I’m very close to and who I love deeply. And so that was probably what was so upsetting. I think that was the hardest thing.”

In an attempt to rectify the situation, she spoke with Glyn Fussell, co-founder of queer club night Sink the Pink, and arranged to speak with Danielle St James, the founder of trans awareness charity Not A Phase.

“The three of us sat on that Zoom for hours… And we just talked about the whole meaning behind that word and the reason why it’s a slur, and what goes on in the queer community and in the trans world,” Glynne shared.

“And I sat there and I was like, ‘Whoa. OK. Right, absorb, take a moment.'”

Following her return to social media in the last few weeks to promote her new single, Glynne published a video aimed at explaining her absence from the music industry.

“I was made to feel like I was not worthy for years and nothing was good enough,” she said. “It had a huge impact on my mental health and on me and my life.”

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