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Mercury Prize-nominated poet Kate Tempest changes name and pronouns

Kae Tempest has changed their pronouns (Ben Birchall/PA)
Kae Tempest has changed their pronouns (Ben Birchall/PA)

Kate Tempest has said they are changing their name to Kae and asked fans to refer to them using the pronouns they/them.

The poet, rapper and author, 34, shared a lengthy post on Instagram detailing how they had been struggling to accept themselves in recent years.

Tempest, whose albums have been nominated twice for the Mercury Prize, said “hiding from myself” had led to “all kinds of difficulties” in their life.

View this post on Instagram

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’ve 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! 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. 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 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

A post shared by Kae Tempest (@katetempest) on

They said Kae referred to the jay bird in old English, symbolising adaptation and courage, as well as the jackdaw, a bird often associated with death and rebirth.

Writing to their 66,900 Instagram followers, they said: “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’ve 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!”

Banksy’s Dismaland
Kae Tempest (Ben Birchall/PA)

Tempest said the word Kae also had roots in the Latin word for rejoice.

They added: “And I hope to live more that way each day.”

Tempest suggested their decision to change their name was encouraged by social and political events in the world.

They continued: “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.”

Transgender campaigner and model Munroe Bergdorf was among those who left messages of encouragement under Tempest’s post.

Bergdorf said: “OMG YESSSS KAE!!! Sending all my love. What a beautiful moment.”

In September last year, pop star Sam Smith also asked fans to refer to them using the pronouns they/them, six months after coming out as non-binary.

A person who identifies as non-binary does not define themselves exclusively as masculine or feminine‍ and generally prefers they/them pronouns, rather than he/she.

Tempest won the Ted Hughes Award for their 2013 play Brand New Ancients.

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