I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to do a Trans liberation playlist. While it’s been relevant for many reasons over the past year, there was always something else going on that seemed like a more fitting theme at the time.
Truth is, I’m so used to transphobia and the systematic stripping of our rights to live at this point, that I almost forget how much of a big deal it is to me and others. I’ve internalized this subconscious feeling that is unsurprised whenever it goes a step further, banning trans kids from accessing puberty blockers, closing down dedicated organizations that help provide trans people with the medication they need for their transitions, and trying to legislate all of us out of existence.
So while Caitlyn Jenner’s support of literal genital checks for school sports teams to make sure that only people with vaginas play against other people with vaginas is by no means the biggest obstacle trans people are facing with our rights at the moment; in the wider context of trans hostility, it is another huge step in the process to eradicate trans people from being allowed to exist alongside the cis.
On a personal level, I couldn’t give two shits about sport. But honestly, it’s hard to even consider this issue for more than 5 minutes without coming to the conclusion that separating sports by gender is arbitrary at best, and a reinforcement of archaic gender norms and sexism at worst. But if you are going to insist on making the boys play boys and girls play girls, what do you think is going to happen if trans kids are allowed to play with their actual gender – and not the one you think they should be by looking at their genitals?
Unfair advantage? – An outdated way of thinking about sports. There are more measurable and concrete ways to ascertain kids’ athleticism – assign the groups based on that. Most academic subjects separate classes by ability – why not do that here too?
Boys might pretend to be trans to sexually harass girls? – Then deal with that the same way you would any other incident of sexual assault or harassment. Trans girls are not more likely to assault cis girls than other cis girls – and it’s wild to me that you think the best solution to this is to ensure that if sexual assault does occur in PE – that it is at least from another cis woman.
Cis kids might be uncomfortable playing with trans kids? – Whatever your approach to this – trans kids still exist, and will be playing with cis kids. Oh you mean cis girls? Honestly in my experience most kids who are uncomfortable playing PE with other genders, are also uncomfortable playing PE with the same gender. Yes more should be done to tackle that – but this isn’t a cis/trans issue – this is a fundamental school format issue.
Whatever way you look at it, this is a stupid plan, and only achieves further suppression of trans people, continuing to delegitimize our existence. While this in and of itself isn’t a big concern as far as trans rights are concerned, the ‘Gender Critical’ will not be satisfied with this result, and will keep campaigning, until we have no spaces and rights left.
Their ultimate goal is to get rid of trans people.
Whether through legislation, conversion therapy or explicit violence is of little concern to them overall.
If you are a cis person – you need to fight with us. You can’t just stay out of the fight – either you fight for our rights, or you are complicit in their erasures. Write to your elected representatives, challenge bigoted views online – even if you don’t convince the bigots, you may be able to stop others falling for their hateful rhetoric. Listen to trans voices, support trans mutual aid funds, and stand with us against the bigotries.
Because alongside these seemingly innocuous steps that various states and countries are taking against the mixing of trans people with their genders – we are also having our access to life saving medical treatment restricted. We are unable to be our authentic selves in many legal contexts, and hate crime and suicide statistics are at an all time high.
These things are all connected.
They take the small steps they can get away with under the guise of common sense and women’s rights to hook them, then they keep moving forwards with repealing our rights until we no longer exist. Stand with us, or be complicit in our erasure.
So, with that in mind – here is my playlist for Trans Liberation. Anthems from Trans artists and vocal trans allies about our rights and liberation. This is much less rocky than my usual playlists, and features some more varied genres of electro, folk and soul – so anyone bored of my usual shouty music can have a break from that!
“You’ve got no cunt in your strut
You’ve got no hips to shake
And you know it’s obvious
But we can’t chose how we’re made”
This is something of a hatching song for me – Against Me! I think are probably many alternative trans people’s first exposure to trans music, and this entire album is a barrage of raw, authentic Punk about Laura’s experiences.
This track is one of the punchier ones on the album, and lets you know what you’re in for. A list of all the things she’s been told (or her brain has told her) before and during transition. Many trans people can related to not feeling trans enough, or not being legitimate because no matter what you do, you can’t ‘pass’.
If you feel like that, this song will speak to you as much as it does me. Absolute anthem.
“Don’t care too much what other people say
I get along swell by my goddamn self
Never asked for no-one’s philosophy
It’s obvious I’m proud of me”
If you don’t know Shea Diamond already, you are missing out. One of the most powerful voices in Pop at the moment.
Shea was imprisoned in 1999 for robbing a convenience store at gun point to pay for gender affirmation surgery (not a great thing to do, but if trans people had the support and access to healthcare they needed to live, this wouldn’t happen) where she faced more discrimination in a men’s prison, and where she wrong this song.
This is a slow and powerful ballad to herself and who she is. The repeated refrain “I am her” has a double meaning after all the lines it’s used in, and as a general reminder that she is a woman, like it or not. Fucking powerful stuff, check out her stuff if you don’t know her already.
“How many days have I spent feeling shame?
Where I said I was to blame for my circumstance?
What would you do?
If you couldn’t be you?
To yourself in a room and your whole life’s a play?
Maybe the issues that lie within are just the world shining in and showing her face”
Ah-Mer-Ah-Su is another artist who you should be checking out. Much more mellow and electro focused than Shea, but similar vibes and messages.
This song is about trans struggle (no, really?) and the unachievably high bars set on us by both ourselves and the wider world. The core message I took from this song is that while we will never be perfect and fully recognized as the gender that we are, nothing else in this world is perfect, and it’s okay to just be okay and to be you. I tear up every time.
We’re gonna show em up
We’re gonna show em up”
Another track that makes me tear up every time is this queer Millennial/Gen Z anthem. I’d like to have more trans-mascs on this playlist, unfortunately I was only able to find 2 that I thought fit the theme (please do contact me if you have more!).
Ryan Cassata is a young alternative folk musician who writes about their experiences as a trans man. While he has many more personal songs that would’ve suited this playlist, this dancey indie-punk tune is a must hear motivational track for all young queer and trans people.
We’re gonna show ‘em up, we got this, we are the cool kids, and our movement is not stopping no matter what. Beautiful.
“Baby it is so plain to see
I do not fuck with he or she
And there’s so many more like me”
Now this is an essential tune for any fellow non-binary individuals. A weirdly soothing trap/trip-hop beat with hauntingly mesmerizing lyrics and vocals about self discovery as a non-binary person and the experiences that entails.
Zand sounds like a much more queer Billie Eilish, and if you like her music, you will definitely like theirs. Another staple of my own personal playlists since I first discovered it.
“Caught up in the middle of society’s riddle
Who am supposed to be?
Boy, girl, how do I decide my identity?”
As trash as RuPaul’s Drag Race is, it has been invaluably helpful to some genuinely talented drag performers. Peppermint is one of these – with the added struggle of being an out trans women in the surprisingly transphobic world of drag.
Civil War is a powerful track about battling dysphoria in an identity crisis, then the discrimination she faced for being who she is. It’s a hard line to walk and a hard life to live, and truly every out trans person in the public eye are some of the bravest people in the world. Inspiring but they shouldn’t have to be.
Trans people just want to live, and the fact that every out trans person has this responsibility thrust on them is illustrative of just how long we still have to go with regards to trans rights. Trans people should not have to be soldiers to survive, but we do.
“It took a while to click,
But then I got the gist,
The girl by my side,
Was the guy I’d missed,
I took her for a beer,
To talk about old times,
Just to find that beer,
Was now a sweet white wine.”
The YouTube comments say it all here – this is surprisingly progressive for the 90s. Aside from less than ideal language (“Although I lost old Joe I got a new girlfriend”, “The girl by my side was the guy I’d missed”). It is a very cis outlook on what transitioning is.
But the overall tone of this song is that of acceptance and excitement that while their friend is changing, they’ve always been that same person, and that’s great. The friendship is the same, just different names and pronouns. Honestly it’s a very basic trans acceptance song, but for the time it’s incredibly cute and it makes me smile.
“We only live our lives and we can only thrive
Within the boundaries they have set
They’ll only leave us alone to do what they condone
And only till they raise our rent
We’re only free to be you and me to the degree
Capital and the state consent”
Now I wasn’t aware of this band at all until making this playlist – and this song in particular was written for our comedy and this playlist theme.
This punk onslaught critiques neo-liberal capitalism and unashamedly reminds us how important intersectionality is to both queer and working class struggles. The fact that it is now no longer strictly illegal to be gay, and marriage is a thing that gay people can do is moot when the economic system and political powers can just remove all our spaces through gentification, pride parades are acceptable only when done in a contained and strictly legislated way – with anything even approaching a queer rights protest subject to the same levels of police brutality that murders innocent people on a fucking daily basis.
The fact that employees of the BBC cannot attend protest for their own human rights because some neo-liberal CEO decided that impartiality means uniformity and allowing movements that are explicitly removing your rights to occur without scrutiny in case some centre-right freeze peach cunt threatens to stop paying his TV licence.
The fact that queer people often can’t afford to leave jobs which are hostile to them and their rights as they have no alternative, and Universal Credit is barely enough to tide us over, certainly not consistently, if they decide you left a job for an invalid reason or actually don’t need as much money as you claim you do.
Queer liberation is class struggle. I don’t have time for any middle class queers or heterosexual working class people who don’t recognize the overlapping oppressions. Our rights are only rights within the framework of a brutal capitalist system that values imaginary numbers over human lives and health.
Sure, I can suck your dick, but until I have the right to shelter regardless of my economic situation, we do not have Queer rights. And I’m saying queer rights instead of equality – as while the heterosexual working classes have things marginally better – the bar is still fucking low.
The queers don’t want to be equally oppressed as the rest of the working class – we want to dismantle the fucking class structure and capitalist system that oppresses us.
Equality is useless if the level for equality is still oppression.
“No, you won’t grow out of it
You will find the clothes that fit
And the images that fucked ya
Were a patriarchal structure
And you never will surrender
To a narrow view of gender
And I swear there’ll come a day
When you won’t worry what they say
On the labels, on the doors
You will figure out what’s yours”
There is nothing that makes me cry happy tears like cis lesbians standing up for trans rights. It’s not that it’s a rare occurrence, I’m fairly confident that a broad number of cis lesbians are trans positive – but the terfs do like the narrative that trans women in particular are a threat to gay women in particular.
Like that trans women are just cis men trying to find a convoluted way to trick cis lesbians into sleeping with them. This is of course bullshit – and terfs like to try and pull a ‘gotcha’ on us when they say, “So if trans women are women, and you’re actually a lesbian, why don’t you just date another trans women? Huh? Huh? ‘Cause you see, if you expect us to believe that you’re a lesbian despite being born with a dick, then surely you’ll be just as happy fucking a trans woman as a cis one? But you’re not, so that must mean you don’t really think that men can be women, you’re just a deluded creeper who is trying to deny lesbians of their agency!”
Meanwhile the trans woman this person is talking to is actually in a polyamarous relationship with 15 other trans women, and spends most of their time bottoming and sucking girldick going “What was that? Sorry I can’t hear you over all of the lesbian dick I’m sucking?”
‘Cause the truth is a lot of trans lesbians don’t date cis women. Not necessarily out of prejudice – but because they don’t know if they are safe.
Trans people in general are more likely to date other trans people, as it’s a shared experience that provides mutual understanding and protection. This isn’t a hard and fast rule of course, but the alternative is usually the exception to the rule – or in cases where people have came out whilst in a relationship and their partner has been cool with it and still attracted.
But I digress. Hearing Grace Petrie singing out publicly against Terfism and in support of trans rights, provides me with the strength I need to get through the day – no matter how bad my dysphoria is, or how many terf encounters I’m recovering from. I’ve been waiting so long to hear this song from someone like Grace, and now that I have I want to share it with the world.
Grace, you are a hero, thank you.
I had a lot of fun with this one, discovered some great new queer artists, and could really diversify my song choices – as previous themed playlists often overlapped, but this was a completely new approach.
And do get ready for our show on the 31st May with Bobbie Jones, James Ross, Tom Short, Kirstie Summers, Kitty Messalina, Ed Roworth and guest host Katie Mitchell!