Trans & Nonbinary Musicians & Music

I’ve been blogging a bit this month about being on the board of International Pronouns Day. In the lead-up to the day in question, which will be October 16th this year (aka TOMORROW), I previously blogged about nonbinary and genderqueer pronouns in English and other languages, and I posted about trans, nonbinary, and queer science fiction and fantasy. This blog post is, of course, about music.

I’m a folk music fan — have been since high school, when my queer cousin sent me a mix of Ani DiFranco and Eddie From Ohio (a folk music band headed by the incomparable Julie Murphy-Wells), amongst other artists. So in my looking around for transgender and nonbinary works for International Pronouns Day, I went searching for music in my collection.

It turns out … I couldn’t find a lot. Here’s the music I did find, though, and some that was recommended to me so far.

Girlyman. Girlyman was flipping amazing. Their super-trans, super-queer song “Young James Dean” is exactly what I want in a song. Why doesn’t every band have a song as great as this one? Sigh.

Mouth of Babes (featuring Tylan from Girlyman) is also amazing. Here’s their song “In the Dark.”

Picture of Ro Colegrove playing his guitar outdoors, taken by Deej Bhulasar
Picture of Ro Colegrove, taken by Deej Bhulasar

Ro Colegrove’s song “Elephant Hearts” is an old song of his, and this recording of Ro is one he made for me as a KS backer. I love how openly he talks about being trans, and recording this song in his new voice. I ❤ Ro forever.

Heather Mae‘s music lifts me up, and her song “I Am Enough” has gotten me through many a rough morning. Knowing Heather, I’m confident many of those faces in the video are trans and/or nonbinary. 🙂

I haven’t seen Bethel Steele in a few years, so I don’t know what pronouns Bethel uses now, but last I heard, Bethel identified as transgender. My favorite song of Bethel’s is “Whiskey,” so that’s what I share with you. Here’s a video of Bethel singing a duet with Joe Stevens, “Words of Wisdom,” while we’re at it.

Skylar Kergil’s “Tell Me a Story” explicitly talks about the whole “are you a boy or a girl?” crappy binary question people ask.

Shawnee’s song “Warrior Heart” is gorgeous. Shawnee is two-spirit, and raises funds to prevent suicide of indigenous youths.

A bunch of my friends are into Against Me!, and now I see what they’re talking about… “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” and “True Trans Soul Rebel” are perfect.

“All Tan” by Sockpuppet is a bit more edgy than my usual music, but these lyrics sing to me:

Why do we all have to be tan
And just a woman or a man
Neither both or something in between
I think that would be pretty keen but
Everyone is just… tan

“Better Than Before” by Sockpuppet is also a song about struggling with dysphoria.

“New Men With Old Man Names” by Schmekel has some great lyrics!

There once was a girl whose name was Ann
He knew he was really a man
His brothers’ names were Mike and Dan
But he changed his name to Mordecai

Joe Stevens’ song “Daughterson” is pretty great, too:

I’m obviously a man
But I sit down on the can
I get shots in the leg by my lady’s helping hand
My scars run across my chest
Dr. Brownstein is the best
And ain’t no one can make me wear a dress

Updated to say: The Doubleclicks have the most adorable song video about coming to terms with being nonbinary, “I’m Winning.” The graphics are all done by trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary artists. “I’m using the right name finally…” Such a great song. Super geeky, too!

I also adore this Doubleclicks song “Wrong About Gender.” There’s an explicit singular they in the lyrics, too! “I never knew love til I looked in their face when they told me with tears in their eyes…”

And I don’t tend to use Spotify, but I’m told this Spotify playlist of nonbinary-ness is really great.

Please still feel free to help out, though! Tell me of your favorite trans and nonbinary and genderqueer musicians? Music about trans and nonbinary people? I’m especially looking for more songs that use “singular they” in the lyrics. Particularly folk and indie artists!
Photo taken by Crystal at a Sara Barielles concert in 2019.
Photo taken by Crystal at a Sara Barielles concert in 2019.

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