Sam Smith considers having a sex change: 'There's a bit of a woman in me'

Sam Smith is fighting hard to love and accept himself.

The singer, who bravely posed shirtless recently in an effort to celebrate his body instead of loathe it, got really candid about body image and his sexuality in an interview with Jameela Jamil for her I Weigh project. He talked about having breasts as a child due to elevated estrogen levels, leading to him getting liposuction at age 12, as well as the “war between my body and mind” over his gender identity. “I’ve sometimes sat down and thought: Do I want a sex change?” he admitted. And his struggle with his body is ongoing (“I get very, very dark”), but therapy over the last year has led to positive introspection.

Smith said he’s struggled with his body image since he was a “baby.” At 5, he was “chubby.” By 8, he had his mom write notes to his teacher because he didn’t want to take off his shirt in swim class. While he came out at 10 and was accepted by family, he “fully had breasts” at 11 and was “self-conscious,” leading to the lipo at 12. The surgery ultimately didn’t work (“I put the weight back on in two weeks”) because he was overeating. He was bullied mercilessly, including by a classmate who “grabbed my chest on the playground in front of all his friends.” He recalled, “It was f***ed up.”

Over the last year, Smith has been in therapy to dig deeper into his unhappiness and realized that his weight struggles are “the basis of all my sadness. Literally everything… I struggle with it every day.” And while he’s learning to accept himself more, posting the shirtless photo was a step to reclaim his body, he said just two days earlier he was in a deep depression over it. “I get very, very dark and very sad,” admitted Smith, who said he has body dysmorphia. Therapy hasn’t taken away his bouts of depression, but have made it easier to dig out of the ruts.

One of the things that opened his eyes were people who have come out as genderqueer/non-binary, those who don’t identify with being male or female. When he first saw the term, he thought, “F***, that is me.” He continued, “I’ve always had a bit of a war between my body and mind about [how I identify], because I do think like a woman sometimes in my head. I’ve sometimes sat down and questioned: Do I want a sex change? It’s something I still think about. Like: Do I want to? But I don’t think it is.”

So how does he identify? “I’m not male or female. I float somewhere in between,” he says.

Having a feminine body has played into his struggle with body image. “I had breasts when I was 11 years old,” he said. “I have a very feminine body. When I move, when I have sex with men — it’s very feminine. I’m feminine in many many ways. I’ve always resented that. I’ve almost been like: No, that’s not manly. You gotta work out. You gotta lose weight. Because that’s what men do.”

He recalled sending photos of actor Tom Hardy to his trainer only to come to realize, “I will never look like that because there’s a bit of a woman in me that won’ t allow that. I put on weight in places that women put on weight.” This realization has been life-changing. “That’s me looking at myself and saying, ‘F***. Maybe I’m not a man, maybe I’m not a woman, maybe I’m just me. And maybe that’s OK.'”

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Sam Smith through the years
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Sam Smith through the years
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Sam Smith attends the #YSLBeautyClub party in collaboration with Sink The Pink at The Curtain on August 3, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for L'Oreal UK)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Sam Smith attends the #YSLBeautyClub party in collaboration with Sink The Pink at The Curtain on August 3, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for L'Oreal UK)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 09: Noted television producer Ken Ehrlich (L) and recording artist Sam Smith attend Capitol Music Group's Premiere Of New Music And Projects For Industry And Media at ArcLight Cinemas on August 9, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for Capitol Music Group)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Sam Smith is seen on April 28, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Pressphotodirect/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 20: Sam Smith attends the Lacoste VIP Lounge at ATP World Finals 2016 on November 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/ Getty Images for LACOSTE)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Sam Smith attends a private view of 'Bowie/Collector', the personal art collection of David Bowie, at Sotheby's on November 1, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Sam Smith attends the launch of the Esquire Townhouse with Dior on October 12, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: (L to R) Sam Smith, Tinie Tempah and MNEK attend the launch of the Annabel's Smoking Jacket by Casely Hayford at Annabel's on October 12, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Annabel's)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Tinie Tempah (L) and Sam Smith attend the evian Live Young suite during Wimbledon 2016 at the All England Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for evian )
INDIO, CA - APRIL 16: Singer Sam Smith performs with Disclosure onstage during day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2016 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Coachella)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 03: Sam Smith is seen in Soho on March 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Alo Ceballos/GC Images)
Jimmy Napes, Sam Smith (best original song) 88th Academy Awards Hollywood, CA February 28, 2016 ??Kurt Krieger (Photo by Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Sam Smith attends the 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sammy Smith/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Sam Smith arrives at the SAINT LAURENT At The Palladium at Hollywood Palladium on February 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singers/songwriters Jimmy Napes (L) and Sam Smith attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: In this handout image supplied by Ray-Ban, Sam Smith poses at the Ray-Ban Rooms at Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park on June 21, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ray-Ban via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 17: Recording artist Sam Smith accepts the Top Radio Songs Artist award via video onstage during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: Singer Sam Smith (via video) performs during the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on NBC from The Shrine Auditorium on March 29, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 04: Singer Sam Smith (R) and the CEO of Universal Music Deutschland, Frank Briegmann, pose for a picture after a concert at Zenith on March 4, 2015 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images for Universal Music)
British singer-songwriter Sam Smith poses with his British breakthrough act award and his BRITs global success award at the BRIT Awards 2015 in London on February 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION, NO USE IN PUBLICATION DEVOTED TO SINGLE PERFORMER (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Sam Smith attends the Burberry Prorsum AW 2015 arrivals during London Fashion Week at Kensington Gardens on February 23, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Burberry)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Sam Smith attends the Universal Music Group 2015 Post GRAMMY Party at The Theatre Ace Hotel Downtown LA on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Sam Smith (R) and songwriter James Napier accept the Song of the Year award for 'Stay With Me' onstage during The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the at the STAPLES Center on February 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 15: Sam Smith performs at Madison Square Garden on January 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Sam Smith performs onstage during iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2014, hosted by Z100 New York and presented by Goldfish Puffs at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Singer Sam Smith performs at the Red Bull Sound Space at 97.1 AMP Radio on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for AMP Radio)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: Sam Smith performs at The Apollo Theater on June 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Capitol Records)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE/SPECIAL RATES APPLY Sam Smith visits 'The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show' at Z100 Studio on June 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Sam Smith attends The BRIT Awards 2014 at 02 Arena on February 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Musician Sam Smith performs onstage with Disclosure during day 3 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2013 in Indio, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 19: Sam Smith performs at Music Midtown at Piedmont Park on September 19, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images for Live Nation)
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Smith also talked about trying to find love and struggling with fame. On the topic of the latter, he said that if he had the chance to do it all over again, he wouldn’t pursue stardom. “Obviously I’m very lucky,” he prefaced his remarks. “I have money now — which I don’t think is lucky because the responsibility of it — but my views on fame is like: I died. Part of my life died. No one treats me the same ever” outside of his family.

He also talked about being how ashamed of his body on a vacation last year really led him to change things. “I was like: I need to fight this because I can’t live my life like this anymore. It’s exhausting.”

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