10 trans women musicians who are changing the world of punk rock
These punk icons are bringing much-needed representation to the scene.March 8, 2021
The punk community has notably provided refuge for society’s outcasts since its early foundations in the 1970s. Unfortunately, representation has been historically lacking across the scene, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+ participation.
While queer musicians as a whole seem to exist as a minority in punk rock, transgender artists are a glaring rarity. But don’t think that means that they haven’t exerted marked influence onto the scene. In fact, they continue to do so.
In celebrating Women’s History Month, we compiled a list of transgender women who are making pronounced contributions to the punk-rock community. Read on for 10 of them.
Mattie Jo Canino
In addition to playing guitar for the band, Mattie Jo Canino is one-half of the vocal force behind RVIVR. Prior to joining the hard-hitting punk outfit, though, she’d played under post-hardcore outfit Latterman. And as if those credentials aren’t impressive enough, she just debuted her first solo EP last year via Bandcamp. Just a smidge softer than most of her early work, the record showcases every last ounce of her eclecticism and talent.
If you haven’t heard Tears For The Dying yet, we encourage you to check them out as soon as possible. The band navigate through entrancing waters of goth-laced post-punk with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Adria Stembridge at the helm. Her experience as a trans woman in the punk community goes back to the early ’90s in Athens, Georgia. She credits her involvement in the scene as a bridge to figuring out her gender identity.
Drew Arriola-Sands is a notable presence in the modern hardcore scene with her band Trap Girl. However, the extent of her influence doesn’t end with putting out seriously kickass, aggressive and politically motivated tracks. The frontwoman is also the founder of Transgress Fest, a SoCal-based festival that uplifts the transgender and nonconforming punk scene.
SeeYouSpaceCowboy are a powerhouse in metalcore, drawing likenesses to many of our heavy-as-hell mid-2000s favorites. While their intricate instrumentation is undoubtedly awe-inspiring, it’s Connie Sgarbossa‘s screaming that really sells the experience. In a 2019 interview with Alternative Press, Sgarbossa explained how she’s used the creative outlet to explore her own personal trials, including her identity as a trans woman in the punk scene.
Evan Greer graced the scene with a collection of catchy and evocative pop-punk anthems when she dropped her album she/her/they/them in 2019. That’s hardly the extent of her inspirational presence within the trans community, though. Greer also serves as a net neutrality activist and an organizer for the Boston-based queer dance event Break The Chains. If that doesn’t sound like a punk, nose to the grindstone mentality, we’re not sure what does.
Jayne County has been deeply involved in the punk-rock scene since the ’70s. That’s not where her trailblazing stopped, though. In fact, the singer-songwriter started hormone therapy in 1974. She changed her name and came out as transgender in 1979, becoming the first-known rock artist to do so. Now at 73 years old, the punk legend dropped a new single, “I Don’t Fit In Anywhere,” in collaboration with Am Taylor.
The Brooklyn-based Aye Nako have been making waves in the political punk scene. They’re in prime standing to do so, given their incredibly diverse lineup and perspectives. The only trans woman drummer to place on this list, Sheena Mcgrath quite literally sets the rhythm for their gritty anthems, driving their pop-punk energy.
Emma Grrrl fronts the aptly named band She/Her/hers. The group refresh the emo-leaning variety of pop punk that we’d come to love by the turn of the 2010s while touching on themes pertaining to gender identity. However, the project isn’t her only contribution to the punk scene. Grrrl also performs in Grey Matter and RENT STRIKE.
As if being on the Vans skate team isn’t inherently punk rock enough, Cher Strauberry has also been showing off her musical talents for over a decade. She’s perhaps best known for her recent riot grrrl-esque releases under Twompsax. However, prior to transitioning, she was also one-half of Evil Twins. In February, she dropped her first single under her own name, “Down N Out,” which comes ahead of her debut album, Chering Is Caring.
Laura Jane Grace
You didn’t think we’d round out this list without mentioning Laura Jane Grace, did you? The Against Me! vocalist stepped up as a transgender icon within the punk-rock community when she came out in 2012. Since then, she’s served as a notable activist through both creation and volunteer work.