6 Songs You Didn't Realize Had Trans Themes (and maybe a couple you did)

Lola- The Kinks
The Kinks were an English rock band during the late 60's and early 70's. In 1970 they released one of their biggest hits "Lola" a tale about a young man who has an encounter with a suspected crossdresser in q club in Soho,  London. The writer of the song, Ray Davies, claims the song is based on a real experience of the band's manager, though alternate versions of the tale claim it was based on a real life experience of the band's drummer.

Candy Says- The Velvet Underground
One of my favorite songs on this list was written by Lou Reed. Reed had a fascination with the underground community of crossdresser and transwomen.  "Candy Says" is a  song sung from the perspective of one such transwoman. She explains the dissatisfaction with her male body and how society imposed a male lifestyle as a result. The chorus is a hopeful outlook on her transition and alludes to the freedom she feels from living as her authentic self. Reed wrote and performed a number of songs with transgender themes both in his work in The Velvet Underground and in his solo career. But this song,  in my opinion, stands as one of the most beautiful musical representations of the transgender experience.

Dude Looks Like a Lady- Aerosmith
Probably one of the more popular and obvious entries on this list, it forever is ingrained into popular culture from its multiple appearances in many films involving transgender themes. Even without those inclusions, the lyrics speak for themselves...Dude looks like a lady. It apparently originated from a bar crawl between Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler who was having drinks with Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil.  The two were at a bar where all the staff were dressed as women, prompting Tyler to state "Dude looks like a lady".

Cherry Lips- Garbage
Garbage is a staple in 90's music. The band's discography is filled with song after song with LGBT themes. Among them, "Cherry Lips" is likely the most fun. It's operates as an anthem for a transgender woman to get out and strut her stuff and has frontwoman Shirley Manson instilling confidence and cheering her on.

The Look- Roxette
As far as I could find, this song doesn't really have any explanation or backstory that connects it to transgender themes. However, if you give it a close listen the lyrics strongly allude that the person being sung about is transgender. With bits like "walking like a man", "she's a juvenile scam", "she's a lover's disguise" and "she's a miracle man"... It's difficult not to assume that it's about a transwoman. Even if it isn't, it's a fun, poppy song with a fun beat. I like to turn it on while putting on my makeup every once in awhile to help accentuate "The Look"

Laid- James
Most people would recognize this song from it's inclusion in the movie American Pie. While it's catchy and upbeat, most people don't pay much attention to the lyrics. The second verse says "Dressed me up in women's clothes, and played with gender roles. Line my eyes and call me pretty". If that's not a blatant representation of transgender life, I don't know what is.

And that's 6 songs with transgender themes. Look for future posts like this one to expand your Trans playlist.

Trans 101: An Introduction to Transgenderism

There is a plethora of media attention surrounding the existence of transgender individuals, and a large portion of that coverage revolves around a lack of understanding and education as to just what being transgender means. It seems as though most of these stories revolve around transsexualism... that is, the desire to fully transition from one gender to another...socially and physically. However, there is so much more to what being transgender means.

For instance, there is quite a large variety of gender identities that fall under the umbrella term 'Transgender' and that list continues to evolve and grow. Gender non-conforming, trigender, two-spirit, agender, androgyne and transexual are just a few of the many labels people use to describe their gender identity. While each has differences from being a transexual, each "sub-category" encounters many of the same struggles and obstacles that people who identify as transexual experience. So, for the sake of simplicity, the rest of this post is going to explicitly focus on the transexual experience but will be referred to simply as trans or transgender.

Transgender people experience what is called Gender Dysphoria, a condition in which you are physically and emotionally uncomfortable with your assigned sex. They desire permanent transition to their desired gender, usually seeking medical assistance including hormone replacement therapy, psychological therapy and a variety of surgeries to confirm their gender identity.

Many trans people often encounter struggles in one or more avenues of public life, such as, public discrimination, abuse, assault, employment, housing, government assistance, healthcare, and even using public facilities. In 2016 it was estimated that 0.3% (around 700,000 people) of the US population identified as trans, however, the study was flawed due to it's failure to account for the number of "closeted" people who identified as trans. A more recent study conducted by the UCLA's Williams Institute estimates the actual number is around 0.6%, double the previous estimate (just shy of 1.5 million people).

Faulty statistics are actually a common occurrence when studying the trans community due to a variety of factors: the closeted effect, lack of relevance in local communities, lack of depth and accuracy in reporting, distortion of facts by biased officials, and the lack of education about the trans community in general. For instance so far in 2017, thirteen transwomen and one transman have been reported murdered in the US. All have been African-American. Though that number ​may be inaccurate due to police, CSI and coroner's services accidentally or intentionally misgendering victims and many of these cases have gone uncovered by local and national news outlets.

In 2011, The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported some staggering findings that 41% of transgender participants (2,644 out of 6,450) had,at some point, made a suicide attempt. The report cites the largest causes as job loss due to bias, physical assault, harassment in school and sexual assault was the most common cause.
Transgender people often experience violence at the hands of strangers. But also frequently experience it at home as well. in 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality teamed up with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to conduct a survey of transgender people, 19% of respondents said they had experienced abuse at home because of their gender non-conformity. Interestingly, male-to-females are more likely to experience family violence than female-to-males are.

And there is so much more to know! But this is just a foot in the shallow end of the pool. More to come in the future!

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Lili Elbe

Lili with feather duster- Gerda Wegener(1920)
 To the left is "Lili with a feather duster", a painting done by Danish painter Gerda Wegener in 1920. The subject of the painting is Lili Elbe, who had been formerly known as Einar Wegener, Gerda's one-time husband.

Lili Elbe was a Danish transwoman and one of the first confirmed recipients of sex reassignment surgery. In 1930 underwent three highly experimental surgical procedures to transition to female. A fourth surgery which was carried out the next year to implant a uterus, theoretically enabling her to have children. Complications occurred during the surgery. Afterward, her body rejected the uterus which led to an infection and subsequent cardiac arrest causing her death in June of 1931
. The Danish Girl, a movie based on a fictionalized account of Lili's experiences starring Eddie Redmayne, was released in December 2015.(It's a fascinating piece, totally recommended.)

Before Lili's transition, she sought medical help and advice from a plethora of sexologists and psychologists throughout Europe, mostly France, Denmark, and Germany. Most of these doctors viewed her gender dysphoria as a mental illness which could be "cured" through various forms of treatment that we now consider torture. She was labeled sick, demented and a schizophrenic spent a short time in a mental institution and underwent electroshock therapy.
Throughout Lili's journey, Gerda remained a loving and supportive companion. Even after Lili was legally considered a woman and her marriage to Gerda was dissolved they remained good friends. Lili was often  the subject of Gerda's paintings which were held in high acclaim in many circles of the craft at the time.

Dora Richter was another transwoman in Europe around the same time period. Though her case was not as high profile as Lili's. Not much is known about her, though her procedures were carried out around the same time as Lili's and by the same Doctors...which is reason enough for her case to contest Lili's as " the first transwoman to undergo SRS".

If it were not for these two brave transwomen, advances may not have been made in the medical community that would drastically change the lives of transgender people for generations to come.

Kristelle's Story: Intro

Hi, I'm Kristelle and I'm a transwoman. You may be one of the "normal" people and you're sitting there wondering just how one comes to the realization that they are trans. You may be confused as to what trans is or even merely curious at to what being trans entails. You may be trans yourself and seeking information, tips, and advice on one of a plethora of subjects that surrounds who you are. Well, that's kinda why I'm building this website. I'm putting together as much information on the trans experience as I can, building off knowledge from the medical and research communities, experiences of other transpeople in the LGBT community, and my own personal experience.

For now, I'm going to stick with a bit of my personal story. I'll start at the beginning and label each post "Kristelle's Story", that way you can catch up whenever you like.|

So my story begins in 1987, the year in which I was conceived. My mother was around 22 at the time, fresh off a failed marriage and in a steady relationship with my father who was 49. When my father was told that my mother was pregnant, he denied being the father. He had been told by a doctor he was sterile earlier in his life and had two childless marriages to back that argument up. This caused a lot of unneeded stress for my mother, who is already a relatively stressed person. My mother likes having her way and is very prudent, and uptight and very much into being prepared for any situation...but she wasn't ready for this one.

I was born March 10, 1988, in Newport News, Virginia, and given the name Christopher. And boy was my Mom very specific about that. Any person that tried to call me Chris was scolded and sternly told "It's not Chris...It's ChrisTOPHER!". And I do mean anybody. A blood test was done and I was proved to be my father's child. He then wanted to be a part of my life, but due to my mother's stubbornness and her definition of my best interests, he was eventually pushed out of my life instead. By November of 1989, she had met and married my sister's father and had my sister.

After my sister was born, her father and my mother confronted my father, asking him to sign away his legal rights as a parent. This is something he eventually agreed to, and it was followed by my sister's Dad adopting me as his own and being assigned his last name. This information was kept and hidden from me and my sister for a long time, a choice that would later rip our family dynamic to pieces.

My earliest memories of life involve my trans identity making itself present. The first of which happened sometime after I had been potty trained. I woke up in the middle of the night and went to the bathroom by myself(hence how I know I was potty trained). After doing my business and washing my hands, my attention turned to an interesting contraption on the floor. I didn't know exactly what it was but based on its shape...I knew where it was supposed to go. It was my mom's bra of course. After struggling with it for awhile I finally got it on. I admired it and liked it. I couldn't wait to grow up and "be like Mommy". Just then she came in saw what I was doing and spanked me for it. I remember being really confused as to why she did it. And I suspect that moment gave weight to the reason I avoided coming out for a very long time.

The second memory I have that involves my trans identity is harder to place. It may have happened before or after the previous one, I'm not certain...but I feel they were close together. Anywho, I wake up one morning and I felt much more self-aware than normal. I started checking my body out. It wasn't until I reached my groin that I started to panic. "What is this thing?! Why is it there?! Mommy will have the answer!" So I run downstairs nearly in tears and find my Mom in the kitchen, sitting by the counter on the phone. She sees me standing there and she  says "Christopher what's wrong?" I replied by swiftly pulling down my pajamas, pointing at my junk and saying "Mommy what's this?"

Her face was unforgettable. Just sheer shock and disbelief at what her kid just asked and how they asked it. She told the person on the phone she would call them back and then proceeded to explain the situation as best she could to a child my age without going overboard. I understood but was not happy about it. I wailed like a banshee for the rest of the day.

The rest of my life before age seven is pretty much a blur. With the only definitive thing that I can say is that my mother was very strict and very protective over me and my sister, while at the same time distant and ignorant of us as individuals. This has always been true of my mother which created a disconnect between her expectations and reality, She saw herself as a good parent because she did her best to provide what she could for her children... Which is true. We rarely went hungry, we were clothed fine, and we never really worried about her bills not getting paid. So she did do something for her children. But she never let us just be kids, she was to protective for that.

And it only got worse as time went on.

Kristelle's Story: Table of Contents