Some of the greatest inspirations for gender non-conforming musical artists.
The world gets a little more interesting and inclusive every time a person in the public eye expresses their true identity, whether it's gender, sexuality or heritage. The queercore musical movement originated in the mid-80s but since then queer culture has found its way into every musical genre, and in a time where gender-normative ideals are being ever shunned, we look at the people making waves for their own non-binary or trans identities.
Here are the top ten gender-neutral and trans artists you need to know about:
Laura Jane Grace at Leeds Festival in 2015
1. Laura Jane Grace - The lead singer of punk band Against Me! spent many years as Thomas James Gabel despite her gender dysphoria before finally deciding to transition to womanhood while still married to her second wife Heather Hannoura. They sadly separated in 2014, two years after Thomas became Laura, but that was also the year Against Me! released the critically acclaimed album 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues'.
2. Ryan Cassata - He may only be 23-years-old, but this indie rocker is already a popular and extremely outspoken advocate for LGBTQ issues, taking lectures around the country on topics such as gender dysphoria and gender reassignment surgery. He even had a documentary film made about him called 'Songs for Alexis'. He also famously landed a spot on the Warped Tour 2013 after winning the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, becoming the first trans person to do so.
JD Samson embraces her non-binary identity
3. JD Samson - One third of Kathleen Hanna's band Le Tigre, and member of dance band MEN, JD was born Jocelyn and came out as a lesbian at the age of 15. There's some debate on the internet over what pronouns to use, but it seems to be the case that she is essentially non-binary, still uses female pronouns but doesn't mind people calling her 'he'. She might look startlingly male, but her facial hair is a result of her natural hormones, rather than transitional therapy. She is well known for having dated Sia Furler.
4. Rae Spoon - While Rae has spent many years time identifying as a transgender man, it was only in 2012 when a preference for the pronoun 'they' developed. Now it seems they identify in a more gender-neutral capacity, and it was that year they collaborated with spoken word performer Ivan Coyote for a music and poetry tour called 'Gender Failure'. Rae's last studio album was 2016's 'Armour'.
Mykki Blanco has experimented with her gender identity for years
5. Mykki Blanco - Having described herself as both transgender and multi-gendered over her career as a musician and poet, Mykki Blanco has been through so many labels and rejected them all. Inspired by the riot grrrl movement and queercore, she's used various pronouns and never proceeded down the typical trans route of having transitional therapy of any kind. Not just a stalwart of the genderqueer asthetic, she is also a huge advocate for HIV causes having been diagnosed as such herself. Mykki released her mononymously titled debut album last year.
6. PWR BTTM - A duo made up of gender-neutral artists Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins, this punk rock band unashamedly tears down gender and sexual stereotypes with their music and performance. They both prefer 'they' pronouns, with Liv specifically calling themselves 'non-binary'. A lot of their music is aimed at the isolated young closet-queers out there, recognising their own struggles with their identity as teenagers.
Anohni's 'Hopelessness' album was released in 2016
7. Anohni - Formerly known as Antony of the band Antony and the Johnsons, Anohni became the second openly-transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar last year with her Best Original Song 'Manta Ray' from the movie 'Racing Extinction'. 2016 also saw the release of her solo debut 'Hopelessness', on which she touches on a variety of issues relating to her transition. In March, she released the EP 'Paradise'.
8. Katastrophe - Largely credited as the first openly transgender hip hop artist, Rocco Kayiatos aka Katastrophe talks a lot about his gender identity within his poetry and music. He featured in the documentary 'Pick Up the Mic', released his first album 'Let's F**k, Then Talk About My Problems' in 2004 and went on to publish the first ever magazine by trans men for trans men called 'Original Plumbing'.
Jayne County at a charity benefit in 2006
9. Jayne County - Formerly known as Wayne County of Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Jayne is the world's first openly transgender rock star. Now aged between 69 and 70, she was an early influence on the likes of David Bowie, the Ramones and Patti Smith. She was also good friends with artist Andy Warhol, and appeared in a number of movies including 'The Blank Generation' and 'The Punk Rock Movie'.
10. Ezra Furman - This Chicago musician is a live performance god/dess who identifies as bisexual and gender-fluid. He rejects the label of 'glam-rock' and David Bowie comparisons that he often gets, feeling an affinity instead with The Velvet Underground's Lou Reed.
Ezra Furman is strongly influenced by Lou Reed