Kae made the admission in a social media post.
Poet, novelist, singer and playwright Kae Tempest has come out as gender non-binary, and announced that they are changing their name and pronouns.
Kae rose to fame with poetry collections like Everything Speaks in its Own Way and Brand New Ancients. They are also an accomplished musician, with two of their albums, Everybody Down and Let Them Eat Chaos, being nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014 and 2017 respectively.
In a social media post, Kae explained: “Hello old fans, new fans and passers by – I’m changing my name! And I’m changing my pronouns. From Kate to Kae. From she/her to they/them.
“I’ve been struggling to accept myself as I am for a long time. I have tried to be what I thought others wanted me to be so as not to risk rejection. This hiding from myself has led to all kinds of difficulties in my life.
“And this is a first step towards knowing and respecting myself better. I loved Kate. But I am beginning a process and I hope you’ll come with me. From today – I will be publishing my books and releasing my music as Kae Tempest!
— kae tempest (@kaetempest) August 6, 2020
“It’s pronounced like the letter K. It’s an old English word that means jay bird. Jays are associated with communication, curiosity, adaptation to new situations and COURAGE which is the name of the game at the moment.”
Continuing, they wrote: “It can also mean jackdaw which is the bird that symbolises death and rebirth. Ovid said the jackdaw brought the rain. Which I love. It has its roots in the Latin word for rejoice, be glad and take pleasure.
“And I hope to live more that way each day. Funny because I know this is much more of a big deal to me than it is to anyone else, but because of my role as an artist, it is in some ways a public decision as well as being a private one. So, here is my announcement.
“Sending my love to you all and wishing you courage as you face whatever you must face today. This is a time of great reckoning. Privately, locally, globally. For me, the question is no longer ‘when will this change’ but ‘how far am I willing to go to meet the changes and bring them about in myself’ I want to live with integrity. And this is a step towards that. Sending LOVE always.”
Kae received plenty of support after sharing their news, with their tweet so far gaining over 25,000 likes. One supportive message, said: “Sending you all my love. My eldest struggled with MH issues for years, culminating in suicide attempts, and has recently come to the realisation that being forced to live as a gender that they don’t feel comfortable in was the reason. Much love and respect to you, always Xx”
Musician Nitin Sawhney wrote: “Maximum respect. What I love about your words and music is the fearless authenticity and honesty of expression. You have been and continue to be a total inspiration… both for your journey and for the incomparable output your path has given to all of us. Thank you.”
And singer Chris T-T said: “Sending absolute love and solidarity Kae, can’t wait to hear (or read) what you do next. You are a singularly inspiring voice.”