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Israeli singer-songwriter Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest with her song "Diva". She is arguably one of the most famous transsexual celebrities in the world.

Transgender musicians have popularized songs that more specifically address their community's concerns as well as their own personal, political, social, and religious interests.

According to an Internet article concerning these performers, their music bears a message, and they want to "entertain but also inform": "transgenders have their own culture and voice, and this is what many trans artists aim to share".[1]


Adèle Anderson

Adèle Anderson is a member of Fascinating Aida, a cabaret trio, consisting of (at various times) Adèle Anderson, Dillie Keane, Marilyn Cutts, Lizzie Richardson, Denise Wharmby, Glenda Smith, Charlotte Nytzen, Issy van Randwyck and Liza Pulman, which has existed since the early 1980s and has "retired" twice during this time.

Anderson also performs alone and has appeared internationally in concerts, in theatrical plays and in TV and film. In addition, sometimes with Dillie Keane, Anderson writes lyrics to most of Fascinating Aida's songs and has contributed to the songs of several hit musicals, including The Challenge (Shaw Theatre) and The Ten Commandments (The Place).

All the Pretty Horses

Minnesota's All the Pretty Horses is one of the few rock bands in the upper midwest that includes transgender members [2]. Founded by in the mid 1990s by transgender vocalist and lead guitarist Venus DeMars, ([3],) who was the subject of Venus of Mars, a 2002 documentary by director Emily Goldberg [3], the band's punk-glam flavor is more influenced by Bowie and T. Rex than Metal glam [4]. Venus was inspired to become a musician after seeing David Bowie on The Midnight Special.

Buck Shot and Bebe Gunn

The musical drag duo, Buck Shot (transman Anderson Toone) and partner Bebe Gunn (Shana Scudder), are considered the Sonny and Cher of Americana country music [4]. Their music is inspired and influenced by Gospel as well as rockabilly, punk and country music [5].

Engaging and humorous, these performers deliberately play up the campy aspects of transsexual and transgender life. They were called the best of transgender performers in the East Bay Express: " of all, the honky-tonk husband-and-wife drag duo Buck Shot and Bebe Gunn, who play most of their songs in only one chord and deal with one theme exclusively – they even cover Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man", changing the hook to "Stand by your trans/Give him all the T [testosterone] you can." While singing the line, Bebe mimes poking a gigantic needle into Bucky's ass.[6].

Anderson Toone was known pre-transition as Annie Toone actor, singer, musician and drag king pioneer. As well as being a founding member of New York no-wave cult band The Bloods in the 80s, he penned the songs and co-starred in the first original drag king rock musical Hillbillies On the Moon with Elvis Herselvis in the 90s, was featured in the drag king book and is considered the grand daddy of drag kings. Before creating Bucky & Bebe he fronted the all drag king band Frankie Tenderloin & the Rent Boy$ in San Francisco.

Bambi Lake

Bambi Lake tells her life story in her book (co-written by Alvin Orloff, The Unsinkable Bambi Lake (1996). Her book includes an account of her evolution from Johnny Purcell into Bambi Lake. Ms. Lake currently resides in Northern California. Bambi Lake fan's website:

Canary Conn

In the 1970s, Canary Conn appeared regularly on the syndicated Merv Griffin Television Show and often on Tom Snyder's NBC Tomorrow show. Before she became Canary Conn, Canary was Danny O'Connor. Her autobiography, Canary (1974) was a best seller. It tells the story of an aspiring young singer-songwriter, who first lived as a young man before living as a woman.

Competing against 10,000 others in a nationwide talent contest in the late 1960s, Danny won first prize, was named "Best Teenage Male Vocalist in America", and landed a recording contract with Capitol Records in the late 1960s. Judges included Dick Clark, Quincy Jones, and Mason Williams.

Realizing that she was miserable as a man, Danny separated from her wife and decided to undergo the first stage of a sex-change operation. She had the procedure performed in Tijuana, Mexico. Two years later, Canary could afford the second-stage procedure. However, living as both male and female and, at the same time, as neither, coupled with working many jobs to save money, and being alone nearly led her to commit suicide.


Dallas/Marie is a D.I.Y. country-punk folk singer from Michigan. She started singing in the bands The F.U.C.T. and WiseUpJanet around 2003, but soon after 2005 she started performing as a solo act. In January 2005 she was signed to DeadWait Records and released two full length albums (27Remastered and In Case You Haven't Heard) under the name VanessaMarie. In 2007 she teamed up with Brandon "Like The Bird" Crane (Guitar), Matthew M. Moakes (Bass), 'Silent' Robb (Producer), and xBrentx (Toboggan) to form VanessaMarie and the Boys and recorded the album 'Your Last and Final Mixtape...". It was recorded at The Doll House in Midland Michigan and was released (only) in Canada at the Toronto Pride Fest. Soon after the album was taken out of circulation, and has now been re-released with some songs removed. That summer 'Autoshow 1963' was released and was the first album under the new name Dallas/Marie. In December of 2008 she released "Opening Your Mouth Once Again" and then in June her album "A Young Patriot's New Anthem" was released. In the winter of 2008 she released the album 'Until We're Good and Ready'. Said to be her best album to date it has sold over 1,000 copies, which for a D.I.Y. artist is a huge accomplishment. Since then she has toured the country with The Tranny Roadshow, a artist collective of transgender artists that performs at university and college campuses across the United States. In the Summer of 2009 she moved to Chicago to focus on her Masters degree in Women and Gender Studies, but continues to perform, write, and record her music.

Dana Baitz

Toronto-based musician and musicologist Dr. Dana Baitz began recording and performing in the early 1990s. Her music, some of which is heard in motion pictures and videos, focuses, in general, on transgender and transsexual experiences.

Baitz's debut album, Not So Blue (1995), which she released under her given name, before she transitioned, featured rock and roll music.

After she began her transition, her music began to reflect a more feminist perspective.

In 1998, Baitz released her Flower CD, which described her transgender and transsexual experiences. After Flower, Baitz released Estrofemme (1999) and, at times, recorded and performed music with Ember Swift.

A recipient of a TransPlanet award for imminent artist, Baitz later experimented with folk music instead of her more aggressive signature rock. She began to play the bass guitar, and her music included drum loops and steady, mellow grooves. She focused less on political struggles in favor of personal concerns, although she continued to appear on rock albums such as Skarlet O'Hara's Picket White Fences even as her own music became more soulful.

Baitz contributed musical scores to such independent films as Alec Butler's second installment of The Misadventures of Pussy Boy and, later, Girl on Girl. Her own independent video, Flat Simple Girls, appeared at queer film festivals.

Her rewrite of The Kinks' 1970 hit "Lola" retells the story of a man's attraction to a transwoman he meets in a bar from the transwoman's perspective.

In 2005, the National Library and Archives of Canada added Baitz's to their holdings, and her music was featured in a documentary concerning San Francisco's Transcendence Gospel Choir. Today, she performs in Toronto, New York City, Baltimore, Chicago, Michigan, and Philadelphia. In 2006, she wed Shauna Lancit, a Toronto-based poet and English scholar. The same year, she released her CD Pretty Little Shape Shifter.

Dana International

Dana International is an Israeli transsexual pop singer of Yemenite origin who won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest for her song "Diva." She was the first Israeli artist to be interviewed on MTV. To date, she has released eight albums and three compilation albums.


Deckard formed when Gen Masters (Jesus Jones) joined the three remaining members of Baby Chaos to record for Reprise Records. The band next recorded songs for Dreamworks Records before producing the album Dreams of Dynamite and Divinity, which their own Chris Gordon (vocals and guitar) produced for release in 2004. The band's original drummer, Davy Greenwood, left after concerns over his health, to be Gen Masters. The other members of Deckard are Grant McFarland (vocals and guitar) and Bobby Dunn (bass).

Georgie Jessup

Three-time Washington Area Music Award (Wammie) nominee Georgie Jessup is a Native American transsexual singer whose music often deals with the difficulties of the American Indian. A Native American activist, she often plays at Native American powwows.

Her CD, American Holocaust, is dedicated to her passionate interest in the plight of the American Indian. Her use of "holocaust" in the title proved controversial.

Concerning the controversial CD, Jessup herself declares, "There's not a lot I can add to this song. A Holocaust really did take place in America! No one except Native People, and those whose liberation is bound up with theirs, really understands this. Indians are certainly not the only ones who suffered a Holocaust but it certainly is more poignant when it happens in a country that touts freedom and justice for ALL!" [7]

As a transsexual, Jessup is also interested in creating music that deals with transsexual issues. One of her albums that deals with being transgender is Woman in a Man's Suit.


Harisu is the stage name of Lee Kyung-eun, born on February 17, 1975. A singer, actress and model from South Korea, she has become particularly well known in some Asian countries after being the first Korean entertainer to come out as being transsexual.

Jayne County

Jayne County was born Vernoy Wayne Rogers on July 13, 1946 and adopted the name "Jayne County" as her stage name when she played in Femme Fatale. County names Jackie Curtis as her biggest influence. She first performed at Atlanta, Georgia's Looking Glass Club. The first band in which she played was Queen Elizabeth, which debuted in 1972 at New York University. County has released the following albums: The Electric Chairs, Blatantly Offensive, Storm the Gates of Heaven, Man Enough To Be a Woman, Things Your Mother Never Told You, Rock 'n Roll Resurrection, The Best of Jayne and the Electric Chairs, Amerikan Cleopatra, Betty Grable's Legs, Goodness of Wet Dreams, Rock 'n Roll Cleopatra, Deviation, Let Your Backbone Slip, So New York, and numerous compilations.

Jenny Slater

Originally from Liverpool, Jenny Slater has played in various types of bands, duos, trios etc, performing in venues all over the country and on the continent since the age of 15. She has also appeared on local radio and regional television programmes in North West England as well as playing at the very first International Beatles Festival in Liverpool.

Jenny is also a post-op transwoman who transitioned nearly twenty years ago and, after overcoming the obvious hurdles along the way, got back on the road some years back. She played in various bands often taking on the role of lead vocals, then in recent years played covers up and down the country as a solo act.

Lately she has been focusing on writing/recording her own material and has recently released a CD Album entitled Zodiac, which is available via her website and digital downloads.[8]

Jesse Xavier (Femme Messiah)

Transwoman Jessica Xavier is an activist for transsexual causes. As such, she is dedicated to organizing and politicizing transsexuals on a nationwide basis. She is also active in monitoring the media to expose transphobia [9]. She is also interested in improving transgender people's self-esteem, seeing their "shame and fear issues" as being "of paramount and continuing concern" [10]. These feelings, she says, explain, in part, why the transgender community lacks an interest in social issues and has little political power.

However, she also blames the lack of the transsexual community's politicization on the nature of transgender people themselves: "Transgendered people are inwardly focused on our self-identities, producing a different group dynamic, one which has not helped to build a sense of cohesiveness within our new community. We transgendered are indeed very individualistic persons, with strong opinions and an inherent distrust of any authority and all rules, two key components of politics" [11].

Finally, she suggests that transgender people "shy away" from political issues because they fear that the demonstration of an interest in such concerns may imply that an individual has "too much male energy” and “smacks of patriarchal mindsets and male egos that are anathema to feminism" [12].

Her solution to these problems is to have transgender organizations "loosen up" and "unlearn male behaviors by teaching a new way of relating to one another in our groups." She argues that transgender people need to "drop. . . titles", and she urges them to "ditch the hierarchal thinking, lose the Robert's Rulebook, loosen up that iron fist of control, stop obsessing about credentials, and start thinking about the future. Our future."

Jessica is also a transgender musician who, with her band, Femme Messiah, released her first CD, Changeling, in 1999. In 2005, the band released Orchids in the Arctic [13].

She is the winner of a Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) Distinguished Achievement Award [14].


Trans man Katastrophe (Rocco Kayiatos), who was a featured youth slam performer in the documentary Poetic License), was named "producer of the year" by Out Music Awards.

His struggle as a trans man provides the basis for his music's presentations of the "larger issues of community, space, privilege, sex and self-worth", he says.[15].

His 2005 CD, fault, lies, and faultlines, "features collaborations with. . . queer-positive lyricists, including spots by quaketrap's shaggy manatee, scream club, juba kalamka and jb raps of deep dickollective, aggrycyst, and romanteek's ruby valentine."

katastrophe is featured in the feature-length documentary Pick Up the Mic: The (R)evolution of Queer Hip Hop, which premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.

Lipstick Conspiracy

Lipstick Conspiracy debuted in 2003. A year later, the San Francisco Bay Guardian named this all-transwoman group the “Best Girl Band” in 2004, following the release of their first CD, Don't Tell A Soul. The band consists of guitarists Marilyn Mitchell, Sarafina Maraschino, and Shawna Love. The newest line-up of Lipstick Conspiracy has changed in 2009. Syndirella Heart is now the drummer for the band. Her style is like no other drummer that has taken the drummer seat. She is best described as the “Neil Peart in a skirt”.

The band's name is meant, on one hand, to "embody a shtick that combines '60s mod style, Nancy Drew, J. Edgar Hoover, or ‘James Bond in a skirt,’" as Sarafina puts it, the word "conspiracy" suggesting “images of cat burglars, jewel thieves, spies, and the like, while ‘lipstick‘ softens them.” On the other hand, "there's a more personal dimension to the theme", as well: "Two of the band members are undercover agents. By day, they appear as men. By night, women. It's a secret they've managed to keep for years." [16]

Lipstick Conspiracy eschews the transgender-laden jargon that is typical of many transgender songs: their music, instead, is devoted to "conventional songs about falling in love and being jilted" [17].

Lisa Jackson (Girl Friday)

Lisa Jackson, of Girl Friday, began her singing career imitating Blondie and singing in Manhattan nightclubs. The band's latest CD is I Am AOK.

Michelle Alexandria Vaughn

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Originally born in Tampa Florida, Currently resides in Los Angeles Ca. an accomplished Transsexual Singer/Songwriter/Producer All natural vocals with a whopping 3 Octave versatility. Stunning lyrics, Ms Vaughn is well known for her writing abilities threw the use of humanitarian venues to create awareness After Composing Fly On Broken Wing (a dedication for the Transgender Day Of Remembrance Nov 10 annually) Ms Vaughn's Dedication is being utilized through out the Country at many T.D.O.R. ceremonies and has been well received. You can find her work on I-toons, Napster, Rapsody, Amazon mp3 LaLa music and many others Music downloading sights just remember her name "Michelle Alexandria Vaughn" check her out also at


Jordan L'Moore (vocals),Princess Kennedy (Lead) Peter Fogel (guitar and vocals), Swirly Rat, Jr. (bass), Stony Kurtis (drums), Duane Eduardo (guitar), Precious Moments (vocals), and Peggy L'Eggs (keyboard and vocals), are known, collectively, as Pepperspray. This band is described by the San Francisco Examiner as "a combination of The Spice Girls and The Sex Pistols." Pepperspray has opened for Cher and the Scissor Sisters.

Space Pussy

According to Brett Milano, author of "The Peecocks and Space Pussy lead the local gay-band scene", Space Pussy hails "from a rock tradition that would include Little Richard, the New York Dolls, and the Cramps in their glitter phase."[18].

Space Pussy consists of "front man" Ryan Landry, Goldberg, and Rikki Bates (drummer), "whose impending sex-change operation really freaked out his last band, the Incredible Casuals." Their songs include "Cherry Bomb" and "The Whole World's Turning Dyke, Thank God."

Syndirella Heart

Syndirella Heart is a member of Lipstick Conspiracy, consisting of Sarafina Maraschino, Marylin Mitchell, and Shawna Love. The band has been together for 6 years when Syndi joined the band. She is now a part of the history of San Francsico transgender music. She plays Pearl drums and has been transgender all of her life. It just took a wonderful local San Francisco band to free her and break the spell of having to hide herself. Today she is empowered to become the best transgender drummer the San Francisco GLBT community ever had. She wants to be a role-model for young transgender people world wide. Been called "Neil Peart in a skirt" since the day she arrived in California.

There She Was

Named after the Scritti Politti track 'Boom! There She Was', the band, formed in Birmingham, England in 1996, consists of Chris Turner (guitar and vocals), Katalina Giacomelli (guitar), Naelejhon Jaszczun (bass), and Sarah Corruair (drums). Sarah Corruair (the only transgender member), born Harry Sutcliffe, was the band's original crossdressing rhythm guitarist however due to continuous ridicule on the gigging circuit coinciding with Harry becoming Sarah full-time, she switched to drums after original drummer Chris Smith left the band to join fellow Birmingham band 'Rachell'. In more recent times, Sarah has come out from behind her drum closet and plays guitar in There She Was's acoustic sets.

Tina Benéz

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tina Benéz performs both in New York City and on the West Coast and occasionally tours abroad. Her most recent CD is Love Me or Die, which was released by VMP/Rock Records. Thailand's radio host disc jockey Bee reported in The Nation that "Tina Benéz is a glamorous trans-Atlantic tranny, more Divine than RuPaul,” and Will Grega, author of Gay Music Guide and a Billboard Magazine contributor, says that "Tina Benéz is drag queen goddess, with pop smarts, chart savvy, unlimited ambition, and a fervent following all too willing to propel him/her to superstardom" [19].

Transcendence Gospel Choir

The Transcendence Gospel Choir, which formed in 2001, describes itself as "a music ministry for the transgender community" which "performs gospel music in worship services, at pride events, and as outreach to the community itself" as a means of challenging "misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance of diversity. . . WITHIN a place of faith" [20]. The band's first album, Whosoever Believes, won a 2004 Outmusic Award and was considered for a Grammy Award. This album contained such songs as “Jesus, Be A Fence Around Me,” “In The Sanctuary,” and “Divine Image”. They have been featured in several documentaries at LGBT film festivals.

Veronica Klaus

Veronica Klaus, is a transwoman who sings and acts. Her first album, All I Want, was nominated for a Gay and Lesbian American Music Award (GLAMA) for Best Recording by a Female Artist. She has since released her second CD, Live at the Lodge.[5]

Vicki D'Salle

Transgenderist Vicki D’Salle, who identified with herself as a girl from a young age, is a pianist and vocalist with what she calls an androgynous voice. Although usually a solo performer, D’Salle also plays as part of a duet or a quartet at times, welcoming accompaniment during because, she says, it "takes the load off me and lets me relax" [21]. She has played music since the age of five, specializing in "blues (some of the double-entendre variety), ballads, boogie woogie and New Orleans music" and has played "60's voodoo garage music. . . and country" as well. Her most recent CD is My Heart's In New Orleans. Her regular venues includes the Universal Grill and Jacob's On The Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has performed the last five years at the annual Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta. She does not intent to undergo sex-reassignment surgery, being content to "to 'stick it out there' and be affirmative about my gender makes me sad when I see sisters that are tormented by crossdressing- the shame, the guilt, the purging...relating to a different gender is something that I see as a positive thing- a balance."

Wendy Carlos

Wendy Carlos is the famed composer of many motion picture soundtracks, including A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.

Other transgender musicians

Other transgender musicians include:

Transgender radio

Although TransOwl Radio [23] and Outlet Radio [24] do not play transgender music exclusively, both regularly feature transgender news, commentaries, interviews, and guests and occasionally play music by transgender bands.

Marlene Bomer hosts TransTalk, a weekly show on WFAL [], moving from Thursdays to Mondays from 4-5pm ET. The show has the features TransHistory, TransTunes, TransNews, and TransCommentary.

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Chris Roberts, "Venus of Mars" Minnesota Public Radio June 2, 2004 Minnesota Public Radio
  3. ^ Venus of Mars
  4. ^ John Ervin, "All The Pretty Horses' Venus DeMars recounts glam band's history" City Pages 4 May, 2009 City Pages
  5. ^ [2]

External links

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