Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert changed their pronouns in their Instagram bio to they/them on July 16th, signaling that they identify as : “[n]either male [n]or female.” While some fans praised Lil Uzi Vert for coming out, other fans threatened them to change their pronouns back to he/him or risk losing their fans’ loyalty. Lil Uzi Vert’s problematic past has also re-entered public scrutiny — in February, they pleaded no contest after being accused of assaulting their ex-girlfriend, Brittany Byrd. Lil Uzi Vert has not made a public statement regarding the change, but they responded to a Tweet posted by rapper Yeat with “Yo yeat” when Yeat tweeted “Yo they.”
Ironically, Lil Uzi Vert’s controversial past includes transphobia. In their 2019 single “That’s a Rack,” Lil Uzi Vert rapped “I was checkin’ my DMs, found out she was a man/ I can’t DM never, ever again/ Lucien on my vision, that’s the only thing that’s tran.” Lil Uzi Vert’s transphobic lyrics were shocking, as they have previously shown support to the LGBTQ+ community by wearing rainbow flag apparel on Instagram and wearing women’s clothing. Lil Uzi Vert’s past transphobia and their newly revealed gender identity leave people scratching their heads as to whether their identity should be embraced or questioned, but their transphobic history does not give us the right to disrespect them by dismissing their pronouns. In Lil Uzi Vert’s case, we should separate their identity from their beliefs and actions and validate their new identity.
It is often difficult to conclude whether one’s identity can be separated from their past mistakes and personal beliefs. Actions speak louder than words and expose one’s true colors, but harmful actions from those under the LGBTQ+ umbrella are often used to invalidate their identities. Yet other groups’ identities are never questioned in the face of one member’s wrongdoings. For example, politically active pro-life men are still regarded as men. In this instance, their actions of attending anti-abortion rallies and belief that abortions result in the intentional killing of human beings negatively influence our perception of them because they fail to consider women’s bodily autonomy and the health ramifications that childbirth imposes upon vulnerable women, but their identity is always respected.
Many people refuse to use someone’s correct pronouns and cast them off as illogical, unnecessary, and confusing, which invalidates many LGBTQ+ members’ identities. In reality, it is grammatically correct and a simple sign of respect. Elon Musk stated that he supports the LGBTQ+ community, yet calls all pronouns “an esthetic nightmare,” leading his transgender biological child to disassociate herself from him. When singer Demi Lovato came out as non-binary, American conservative Candace Owens spread insulting misinformation about non-binary gender identities by posting a hateful Tweet saying that “Announcing your pronouns are they/them is just poor grammar. I don’t care your reasons — please stop trying to make low academic achievement a thing.”
After Sam Smith came out as non-binary, they were excluded from gendered categories at the 2021 Brit Awards. English television personality Piers Morgan then branded non-binary gender identities as a “fad” and “an excuse for people to be different.” He also falsely accused Smith of using their pronouns as a publicity stunt to promote the success of their upcoming album.
When it comes to navigating identity in literature and media, gender identity is often associated with sexual orientation by grouping transgender people under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, generalizing the entire LGBTQ+ community in one set of experiences. The lack of a popular label like TGNC (transgender and gender non-conforming) deprives the transgender community of necessary inclusion into society. It is clear that the LGBTQ+ community continues to struggle with being accepted, which is why some may perceive Lil Uzi Vert’s past controversial actions as a reflection of the rest of the LGBTQ+ community, damaging their image worldwide.
The idea of generalizing the specific characteristics of one person and applying derived conclusions toward the rest of their social group is a major, devastating fallacy that we have often fallen victim to. The same root feeds on the emergence of harmful stereotypes and widespread hate. The LGBTQ+ community does not deserve to be slandered because of Lil Uzi Vert’s past. Because of this, Lil Uzi Vert’s identity should not be considered when judging their past controversial actions and beliefs — their identity should be accepted without any judgment.
We should respect Lil Uzi Vert’s identity and pronouns, but we certainly do not have to respect them as a person given their past abuse. Lil Uzi Vert is a flawed representative of the LGBTQ+ community, and they should issue an apology for their past transphobia, but still their harmful behaviors should not lead to hatred against the LGBTQ+ community.
This content was originally published here.