Shawn Mendes Apologizes For Misgendering Sam Smith

by Julie Scagell
Kevin Mazur/Madison Phipps/Getty

Mendes referred to Smith using the wrong pronouns during the concert

Shawn Mendes is apologizing for a recent mistake with Sam Smith’s pronouns at the livestreamed iHeartRadio Jingle Ball concert on Dec. 10. Mendes referred to the nonbinary singer several times as “he” when introducing the singer-songwriter and several other times during the show.

“Oh @samsmith I’m so sorry for referring to you as a ‘he’ for your jingle ball introduction,” Mendes wrote on his Instagram Story a day following the event. “It absolutely slipped my mind. Won’t happen again … Sending you so much love ! Also you absolutely are one of the funniest people I’ve ever met!” Smith is nonbinary, and their pronouns are they, them, and theirs.

Smith came out as nonbinary earlier this year.

“I am not male or female. I think I float somewhere in between,” they said in an interview with Jamila Jamil on Instagram. At the time, Smith said they would continue to use “he” and “his” pronouns but later changed their mind, announcing that their pronouns are the gender neutral “they” and “them.”

“After a lifetime of being at war with my gender, I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “I’m so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision, but I’ve been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but fuck it!”


They also wrote that they know people will make mistakes, but the important part is that people make an effort. “I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now.”

During the concert, Smith performed new songs off their third album Love Goes, including “Diamonds,” and a cover of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Immediately after the show aired, people complained that it shouldn’t have aired until the misgendering was fixed, and many demanded the apology from Mendes.

Despite Thursday’s mistake, Mendes has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community. After his longtime collaborator Teddy Geiger came out as transgender in 2017, Mendes was in full support mode.

“I remember the day I said ‘she,’ and it wasn’t because I said it consciously, it was because I said it without thinking, basically just in conversation. I didn’t realize I did it, but she looked at me and she had the most incredible look in her eyes,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “If every person in the world had one of their best friends look at them that way, and express that much joy in what it meant for her to be referred to as the pronoun ‘she’ is, there would no longer be an argument [over trans rights]. People would just understand.”

Smith seemed to forgive Mendes and took to heart the public acknowledgement and apology.

“We’re all learning together,” they wrote on their Instagram Story. “Happy holidays, all my love xx.”