Sunday, 30 March 2014

Seven trans musicians that inspire me

I figured I would take a break from the navel-gazing introspection that typifies this blog and share with anyone who's interested some of the trans musicians I find inspiring. I love that there are artists out there who have experienced, and can sing about, some of the same struggles I'm going through. And, as a bit of a musician myself, it's encouraging to hear that a woman can sing with a "male" vocal range and still sound amazing. So here, in no particular order, here are seven trans musicians that inspire me:

Laura Jane Grace
Laura Jane Grace fronts a punk band called Against Me! and generally kicks ass. She began transitioning in 2012 and came out to the world with a really great story and interview in Rolling Stone magazine. The band’s next album was the aptly named Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which was released last January and dealt heavily with the subject it was named for. I deeply appreciate how Laura’s songwriting is so unapologetically honest when she's describing the shittiness that is gender dysphoria.

Rae Spoon
Rae Spoon blends folk, indie rock, electronic and country music in a way that’s unique and beautiful. Assigned female at birth, ze lived as a man for years before coming out as genderqueer. Ze has an evangelical Christian background, and I feel like I can hear in some of zir lyrics the same sense of having been betrayed by the church that I’ve experienced in my own life.

Ataru Nakamura (中村  )
Ataru Nakamura sings pop music in the broadest sense of the term, ranging from stirring symphonic pieces to jazzy, cabaret-inspired rock. She transitioned as a teenager before beginning her music career, but came out to the press early on. What I love about her is that she is so amazingly talented. Unlike a lot of pop singers, she writes her own lyrics and composes her own music. And in addition to her gorgeous voice, she is a very capable pianist and drummer. (And she rocks the kazoo!)

Lucas Silveira
Lucas Silveira plays rock and roll in a band called the Cliks. Their tunes are catchy with a vaguely 50s-ish aesthetic. He's stated that he wants to be seen primarily as a musician rather than some sort of transgender spokesman. That being said, it’s kind of interesting to hear how his voice has changed from their earlier recordings since he started taking testosterone in 2010.

Belle Nuntita (เบลล์ นันทิตา)
Belle Nuntita sings typically cheesy pop music, but she does it very well. She became a celebrity overnight after apearing on the TV show Thailand’s got Talent in 2011. Since then she has been raising awareness about the challenges trans people face, as well as continuing to perform and record her music. She has a deep voice for a woman, but it still sounds unmistakably female, and somehow I find that combination very sexy. :)

Titica is a rapper with a penchant for very high energy, techno-inspired beats: it’s the kind of music that would be a ton of fun to dance to, even if it's not what I'd typically listen to. She’s from Angola, which is definitely not an LGBT-friendly country, but even so she’s very out and visible as a trans person. Between her dance moves and her outfits, it’s obvious she is very, very comfortable with her body. Which I think is pretty great.

Mina Caputo
Mina Caputo started out playing metal in a band called Life of Agony (which may actually be the metaly-est band name ever), but left the group in 1997. Since then her solo work has taken on a softer, more introspective tone. She began transitioning in 2011. Her song Identity contains the lyrics, “I know I’m not a man \ I know I’m not a woman," which is sort of how I feel some days.

Are there any trans musicians you appreciate that aren't on this list? Let me know!

Thursday, 13 March 2014


I miss the sense of community I had when I was a conservative Christian. Even though that community didn't exactly foster critical thinking, even though I had to work so hard to hide all my doubts about basic tenets of the faith, and even though no one really knew me 'cause I was lying to all of us about my gender identity: still, in a way, those were some of the closest friends I've ever had.

I moved to Edmonton in December of 2012; before that I'd been living in a town called Grande Prairie. In Grande Prairie I played piano at my local church, and I helped out with the soup kitchen they ran. I attended a weekly bible study group, and I lived with all Christian roommates— (one was even an ordained clergy member). One of the main reasons I moved was to get away from all that. By the end of 2012 it was finally becoming apparent to me that I was losing my faith. I needed space to ask basic questions about what I thought was true, and I wasn't going to find that space in the evangelical Christian community. So I got out.

I moved to Edmonton because that's where my family lives and I thought I might end up going to school here, (which in fact I did). I found the space to ask questions, and in that space I discovered and accepted that I am transgender. But what I lost in the process was a close, loving community. I still keep in touch with some of my old friends through Facebook, but I feel like we're drifting apart. It makes me sad.

I suppose what I ought to do is get involved in the queer community here in Edmonton. (I went to two meetings of my school's queer social club, and one meeting of a trans support group, but that's all.) To be part of a community again, and one where I can actually be myself, would be fantastic. I'm shy and making friends is hard, but still I should try.

Oh, and guess what? I got to see Laverne Cox speak last Friday! She gave a talk as part of my school's pride week, it was really good. Even though I went by myself, it was very refreshing to be in a huge room full of people who accept the legitimacy of trans identites. That's precisely the kind of community I want to be a part of!