When Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE dropped last year, a queer-euphoria took over. Trans women, ballroom culture, and the queer community were called to the FRONT. In this metallic-studded era, came an ambiance of hope and forwardness to a community that endured so much strife in the last few years.
Artists’ like Honey Dijon and Shea Diamond have never been needed more, with so many rights of the LGBTQ+ community being taken away. Across the country, Republican lawmakers have fought to ban any resemblance of drag in schools, and performances altogether. Now, Montana has become the first state to ban people dressed in drag from reading to children in schools and public libraries.
But that didn’t stop icons from TS Madison and Big Freedia from continuing the party. The Bounce Queen in her own right doesn’t abide by any rules but her own, now, she’s worked with some of the hottest talents in the industry from Drake, the Queen Bee herself to most recently Lizzo. The way she lives by her own gender-fluid rules, answering to no one in the same respect, gives other people the strength to do the same.
However, from the outside looking in, it seems that there are only so many spots available because Black trans artists seem to be lacking in exposure. Their presence flies under the radar, even though we have stars like Honey Dijon and Ah-Mer-Ah-Su available to us.
We have seen more and more trans women come into the mainstream. Most recently, Kim Petras became the first trans woman to win the Billboard Women in Music Award and a Grammy for Best Pop/Group Performance within the same year for her song, “Unholy”, with music artist Sam Smith.
But where is that same exposure for Black trans women who continue to push their music forward, despite all of the prejudices and violence brought against them? It’s already hard enough being Black and a woman. And then you’re inside the queer community… Honey.
In an industry that is already prejudiced against Black women, or only deems their success based on profit, is it safe to say that in today’s industry, we’re only welcoming of what the collective deem as “acceptable?” So does that mean only artists like Kehlani, Janelle Monae, and Syd can be received by the masses?
Gabrielle Union spoke candidly to the entire Black community earlier this year after receiving the president’s award at the 54th NAACP Image Awards, “Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us,” she said. “Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized, and hunted in this country. Everyday. Everywhere.”
According to a leading LGBTQ+ advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, 38 transgender people were killed in 2022, and a majority of them were women of color. In 2023 alone, there have been 12 similar killings to date.
So despite everything they may and will endure living in a world such as this, here are some Black trans women artists who deserve the sun:
Using her influences of Whitney Houston and Tina Turner, Shea Diamond is a vocalist, trans-activist, and musician all rolled into one. She has used her musical platform to not only give a voice to her community but change the negative light that has been placed on them in the world today. Songs like, “I Am Her,” “Smile,” and “I Am America,” are just a few of her pieces that give the trans community the much-needed peace and comfort they deserve. She uses her voice to carry the tune and amplifies R&B and soul throughout her music.
A Chicago-born DJ, rapper, and producer who has been nominated at the Grammy’s for being a writer and producer on the RENAISSANCE Album. Born in the origin of House music she has 25 years in the industry. Now finally getting her stardom acknowledged, she’s performed and worked with some of the greats. She worked on Madonna’s, “Finally Enough Love,” and curated a club opening night for Grace Jone’s Meltdown festival. She’s spun worldwide, and always leaves the crowd wanting more. She is a force, bringing the essence of HOUSE music back from the dead.
This Oakland-based electronic princess doesn’t hold anything back with her performances. Her most recent performance at the Boiler Room in San Francisco brought out large crowds, and in her mix, the partygoers couldn’t stop dancing. She uses her range in voice-over electronic and EDM beats that bring out a new age of music. Most importantly, the girl can SANG honey. Hitting almost a high C in her most recent set, was nothing of a surprise because the control she has allows the music to speak for itself. My personal favorite is Heartbeats.
She’s a Canadian metal rapper. And don’t run away from it too quickly…because one thing this girl knows how to do is rhyme. Her pain from her journey being both trans and in metal is exemplified in her lyrics, she’s very straight to the point…. some would call her cutthroat because she doesn’t hold back. But in a way, her straightforward lyrics accentuate her sound’s uniqueness. There aren’t many Black women, Black people, in metal so having such a presence makes it even more brutal, but in the best way possible. She can’t be contained and in that, she struck gold.
Madison Hunt is a DC based writer. Her interests include exploring new culture trends and spotlighting Black artists coming up in the music industry.