Story at a glance

  • Britain’s pop music awards, the BRITS, will remove its male and female categories beginning next year.
  • The change had been called for by artists like Sam Smith, who is nonbinary.
  • The BRITS will also add four new genre awards next year, which will be voted for by fans.

Britain’s pop music awards, the BRITS, will scrap its male and female categories beginning next year in favor of gender-neutral awards like artist of the year, organizers said Monday.

"It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible," new Brits chair and Polydor Records co-president Tom March said in a statement. "It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender."

Artists like Sam Smith, who is nonbinary, had previously advocated for the change, claiming the current system excludes artists who identify as neither male nor female.

Smith’s album, “Love Goes,” released last October, debuted at no. 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and no. 2 in the U.K., but they were excluded from this year’s awards because of its gendered categories. The English artist has claimed three BRITS, from 12 nominations, one in 2014 and two in 2015.


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Before coming out as nonbinary in 2019, Smith was nominated twice for best male solo artist, in 2015 and 2019.

"The Brits have been an important part of my career," Smith said earlier this year in a now-deleted Instagram post. "I look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in. Let's celebrate everybody, regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class."

Other awards events have also removed gender classifications, and the San Sebastian Film Festival in September gave its first-ever gender neutral acting award to joint winners Jessica Chastain and Flora Ofelia Hofmann Lindahl.

Some worried the change to the BRITS, when it was first pitched in 2019, would marginalize female artists. But winners in gender-neutral categories at other shows, like the MTV Video Music Awards, which replaced its best female and best male honors with a best artist award in 2017, suggest that should not happen.

The BRITS’ own best album award has been won by a female solo artist 10 times and by a male solo artist nine times.

In addition to the removal of gendered categories, the BRITS next year will also introduce four new genre awards: alternative/rock act, hip-hop/grime/rap act, dance act and pop/R'n'B act, which will all be voted for by fans.


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Published on Nov 23, 2021