These are the Trans Music Artists You Should Be Listening To Right Now!
An important part of empowerment is representation. When I see someone like me on TV or the big screen, it helps me realize I am not alone and that I, like those I see, am capable of great things.
The same holds true for music. Lately, I have been listening a lot to transgender performers. People, often very much like me, who happen to make music. A key part of good representation is quality. If transgender performers were not that good, then the shine of that representation would lose its lustre.
Fortunately, there are several great acts, with more forming all the time. Here are some of the acts I’ve been listening to, the songs I want to make sure everyone has a chance to hear. Because they are more than just good transgender musical acts. They are good musical acts, period.
You might notice a bias toward indie, punk, hardcore, and alternative music. That’s my taste, so that’s what I’m recommending. There are other talented transgender musicians out there in the pop arena. If you haven’t heard of Kim Petras, for example, you might want to check her out if you like pure pop.
If you are into indie, punk, DIY, alternative, etc., though, these are musicians and acts you just might like.
According to their Bandcamp page, “She/Her/Hers is Emma Grrrl and sometimes friends. Sad grrrl pop-punk.” And that about sums it up. Her best known songs are “Gender is Boring,” and “Kill the Boy Band,” but I love just about everything Emma has written. It often feels like I am at a transgender support group put to music, especially on songs such as “Family,” “Nvr Pass,” and “I’m Not Supposed to be Anything.” But this one from her first album, Hopeful/Scared, is one of my favorites:
Singer/songwriter Lauren Denitzio (they/them) has a voice reminiscent of Delores O’Riordan of the Cranberries, but with a power punch of a power pop band backing them up. If you listen to current queer punk and indie music it is hard to escape hits like this one:
G.L.O.S.S. stands for “Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit,” and from the first power chord, it’s obvious this trans hardcore punk outfit means it. Driving bass, distorted guitars, banging drums, and, over it all, Sadie Switchblade screams lyrics about toxic masculinity, transmisogyny, and standing up for themselves while staying feminine. This song tells you all you need to know about them:
Even before G.L.O.S.S. went on hiatus after turning down a big-time record deal in 2015, front woman Sadie had already started her side project, Dyke Drama. Releasing Tender Resignation in 2015, Up Against the Bricks in 2016 and Hard New Pills (12”) in 2018, Dyke Drama’s alt-rock Replacement-meets-Exile-on-Mainstreet-era-Stones is huge departure from G.L.O.S.S., but I absolutely love it! You really can’t beat tracks like “Thing I Do Best,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Rolling Tears,” or “Up Against the Bricks.” And “Cis Girls” is the song most of us queer trans women have been waiting all our lives to hear. Warning: do not listen too long if you are already depressed. Many of the songs even reference tears or crying, like this one, my favorite:
It’s sad that it needs to be said, but Mal Blum’s website points out that, “*Mal Blum is a non-binary transgender individual. Please use they/them pronouns or simply their name when referring to them.”
They’ve been making music for years, including the album, Pity Boy, released last year, and the 7” single release due November 20, titled “Nobody Waits.” However, their most popular songs have been around for some time. “New Year,” and “San Cristobal” were from their first album but are so popular “San Cristobal” was re-released as the B-side to “Nobody Waits.”
This video is from the You Look A Lot Like Me album, and is really cute!
Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers/ Against Me!
This is actually two bands with one person in common — Laura Jane Grace. She founded Against Me! and was the front woman for decades. It was with Against Me! that Laura recorded The Ocean, the first real hint of her being trans. After coming out, she went on to pen the songs on two more albums — -Transgender Dysphoria Blues and Shape Shift With Me.
It’s tempting to think of Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers as a side project, especially since the other two members have ties to Against Me! as well. Drummer Atom Willard plays the same role as in Against Me! and bassist Marc Jacob Hudson doubles as a sound engineer for Against Me! Grace writes and sings all the songs, but Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers’ sound is different from that of Against Me!
This is one of my favorite Against Me! tracks:
And this is one of my favorites from Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers: https://youtu.be/TeN8qunbF2o
Left at London
According to her website, Left at London (stylized as /@/) is the stage name of Nat Puff (she/her), indie pop artist, trans lesbian, poet, & comedian from Seattle, WA. Her best known songs are Revolution Lover, and I Don’t Trust You Anymore.
This is my favorite: https://youtu.be/6CQYdIDLL24
In case you thought trans punk groups were all perpetually serious WASPs, there is Schmekel to put you right. The word schmekel means “little penis” in Yiddish. Once you learn that guitarist, vocalist, and founder Lucian Kahn thought up the idea of an all transmasculine, Jewish band by that name, you are in on the joke. Two of his friends, bassist Nogga Schwartz and keyboardist/vocalist Ricky Riot joined the band on the spot, and Simcha Halpert-Hanson rounded out the quartet as it’s drummer a few weeks later. What’s my favorite song by them? Hard to say. Genderqueer Lovesong? New Men with Old Man Names? Probably this one, FtM at the DMV:
They’ve long since broken up, but you can still catch up with some of the members of the group at their Facebook page: Schmekel: 100% Trans Jews (https://www.facebook.com/transjews/)
Polythene Pam are Anna Dickenson, Coda Gardner, and Jenn Cuddigan. A unique country-folk-punk mix with some of the most hilarious lyrics I’ve ever heard. Although brilliant, they don’t seem to want any of us to take them seriously. Even their name is a play on the old Beatles song (“you should see Polythene Pam. She’s so pretty but she looks like a man).
Their Facebook page pretty much says it all:
Polythene Pam are a quirky, upbeat, super entertaining queer girl band. Think TMBG, Violent Femmes, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Magnetic Fields, and a dash of Beatles in a big ol’ eclectic musical stew. Laugh, dance, and sing along — fun times for all!
Hard to pick just one song to feature, but this one, off their album Just Listen, is one of my favorites:
Size of Sadness
A band out of Chicago, best known for their song “Trans Punx.” The song reminds me of a queer/trans telling of the Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare.” The first line is even almost the same!
Namoli is a singer-song wrier who has been around since the early thousands. How to describe her sound? I’ve always thought of her as the trans community’s answer to the Indigo Girls.
Here’s one of her best known songs: https://youtu.be/gPlnN6VbCdE
Those are my current favs. If this story gets any traction, I might put out more suggestions. In the meantime, get out and listen! If you are wondering where to hear any of these folks, I listen to all of them on my Spotify account, and you should be able to as well.