Musicians express gender identity

Through various forms of visual and audible expression, musicians in the trans, enby and gender fluid communities are vocalizing their pride and opening doors for the next generation of artists in the process.


Lots of sass…Performing with her band, SeeYouSpaceCowboy frontwoman Connie Sgarbossa screams into the microphone. The band played at Spinelli’s Downtown pizza in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Mat Schladen

As the struggle for transgender rights and acceptance continues, transgender, non-binary, and gender fluid musians across different genres are expressing their gender identity and reaching the ears of underground and mainstream listeners.
The recent death of Scottish pop artist Sophie Xeon, known mononymously as SOPHIE, has caused a new interest in her music amongst mainstream audiences.
“Sophie received a lot of posthumous attention but was pretty underground for most of her career and she was very important to me,” senior Collin Slade said.
Souderton alum and local activist Kaishon Gordon said that SOPHIE’s music will have a long lasting impact on her audience.
“I’m happy that her artistry is getting noticed more and enjoyed,” Gordon said. “She’s left a legacy [in the form of] an audible stamp that is living on after her and will continue to.”
Slade believes that the rise in popularity of indie music has been “benefecial to the upward movement” of transgender musicians.
According to Connie Sgarbossa, vocalist of hardcore punk band SeeYouSpaceCowboy, being within the San Diego independent hardcore scene has allowed her to freely express her femininity without much resistance.
“I don’t really encounter any resistance in the harcore scene since it’s very progressive, so it is pretty validating to be in that environment,” Sgarbossa said.
Sgarbossa believes that it’s important for her lyrics to cover a variety of topics aside from just being a transwoman.
“There is an expectation that if you are in a queer band you sing songs about being queer and that’s your identity. That never really interested me,” Sgarbosa said. “I don’t want that to be SeeYouSpaceCowboy’s only note. There is a lot more to my life than just being trans.”
According to Gordon, transgender, nonbinary and gender fluid musicians are reaching new levels of success and influencing the next generations to do the same.
“These artists are breaking the doors down for future trans, enby, and gender fluid artists. Their bringing awareness, their presence, their unique voice, and perspective. Paving a path for further opportunity in this field,” Gordon said.
According to Slade, the confidence and self acceptance that transgender artists show make them more appealing.
“Whenever I take note of a trans artist I like and their art, I see a pattern of acceptance over their body regardless of whether or not they receive gender affirming surgeries or treatments,” Slade said.
Sgarbossa believes that it is her duty to use her platform to help support and elevate other groups including LGBT+, people of color, or the working class.
“I told myself when we signed that if I was going to put myself into the music industry that I would always use my platform to help promote the beliefs I have and try to work to improve the standings of those marginalized or taken advantage of,” Sgarbossa said.