Trans people have created incredible music in every imaginable genre, but when I read lists of LGBT artists, trans musicians are too often nowhere to be found. Here are a few of my favorite songs by trans creators. I hope they give you strength to fight for our lives.
Jackie Shane’s “Sticks and Stones”
Few people deserve the title LEGEND like soul singer Jackie Shane. She was a pupil of Little Richard and toured with Etta James. Her stage show was compared to James Brown and George Clinton tried to get her to be a part of P-Funk. She is incredible and “Sticks and Stones” is a perfect trans anthem.
Billy Tipton’s “September in the Rain”
Billy Tipton was a band leader, pianist, saxophonist, and jazz star. His song “September in the Rain” evokes surprising sweetness and beauty, exactly the feeling we need to find right now.
Little Ax’s “You are My Sunshine”
Little Ax’s beautiful voice stunned the gospel world in the 1960s. Here he is with his group the Golden Echoes singing “You are My Sunshine.”
Laura Jane Grace and Against Me, “True Trans Soul Rebel”
Laura Jane Grace is the front-woman of punk band Against Me. Her album “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” made NPR’s list of 150 of the most important albums by women. Her song “True Soul Rebel” has heart-breaking, relatable lyrics and a punk rock-kick that will give you strength when you’re feeling low.
Venus DeMars and All the Pretty Horses, “God Dog”
If you like Laura Jane Grace’s work, thank Venus DeMars and All the Pretty Horses. They were serving us trans glam punk rock back in the 1990s. Venus is still rocking hard today.
Angel Haze’s “Dirty Gold”
Non-binary rapper Angel Haze is both a gifted lyricist and a consummate performer. “Angels and Airwaves” sends a message of support specifically to people contemplating suicide (content warning).
Vivek Shraya’s Part-Time Woman
Vivek Shraya’s electric voice, exquisite visuals, and piercing lyrics made this music video essential listening.
Wendy Carlos’ “Tron”
Wendy Carlos is one of the most important musicians of the last 50 years. If you have ever listened to a song with a synthesizer, you have her to thank. Her most famous album is “Switched-on Bach,” in which she played Johann Sebastian Bach’s classics on the moog synthesizer. She also contributed to the sound track for the movie Tron.
Shea Diamond’s “I am Her”
Soul Singer Shea Diamond’s video for her song “I am Her” feels like hanging out with your organizer buddies getting yourself all ready for revolution. This is the hymn to transgender liberation that we need right now. Shea Diamond is both a musician and an activist and it shows.
Jackie Shane’s “Any Other Way”
Will you forgive me for circling back to Jackie Shane? She’s my favorite. “Any Other Way” is the perfect song of self-acceptance and political defiance to end this list.