This week is Trans Awareness Week, a time to shine a light on the continued struggles trans and gender diverse people face in their day-to-day, and a time to celebrate the lives of trans and gender diverse people, both in the community and the world over.
In music, trans and gender diverse folk have consistently played integral, yet often overlooked, roles in driving the industry forward. Ball culture, formed and accelerated by queer people of colour in America, helped shape large parts of pop and electronic music that permeate your radios and your playlists today. More recently, trans and gender diverse artists like SOPHIE and Arca have been instrumental in inspiring other musicians, like Kanye West, Björk and Charli XCX, to create their best work to date.
In Australia, the music coming from trans and gender diverse artists is continually exciting, refreshing and deserving of your love (and your streams). Here are some of the names you're going to want to be across, lest you become the only one out of the loop.
June Jones' voice is one that envelops you and never lets you go. The emotion she lacquers every word with becomes your emotion; her world becomes your own. She's just announced her second studio album, Leafcutter, due out next year, and this week we saw the release of its second single "Therapy". It's a woozy and soulful endeavour, sparked with distorted brass and full of lyrics that both ponder millennial quirks and desperate heartbreak – "Do scented candles count as medicine?"
Western Sydney's flowerkid – Flynn Sant – is only two songs into his career, yet his songwriting matches and surpasses many veterans who are several albums down. His latest cut, "miss andry", reaches into your chest and creates a tight stranglehold around your heart. You feel what he feels. "I never hated you, I don't even hate them, I just hate myself," he sings in the chorus, voice cracking. It's a haunting and understated ballad that leaves your jaw tight and your throat dry with its melancholy and its beauty. He's also just signed to Billie Eilish's management, which means you know he is destined for the greatness he already so justly deserves.
It's boggling how two people can create music that punches with the force of an entire army, but Wollongong's Cry Club pull it off with ease and a twinkle in their eyes. Heather Riley and Jonathon Tooke of Cry Club pull elements from pop, rock, punk and everything in between to deliver candid, electrifying bangers. Last week, they released their highly-anticipated debut album God I'm Such A Mess and it is, from top to bottom, an assault of earworms and hooks that you won't be able to forget about. Nor will you want to. Opener "DFTM" is the frankest call-out of sexual assault and harassment we've heard in recent memory, while songs like "Wish" and "Obvious" are glittering, starry-eyed pop jams.
Lonelyspeck, the stage name of Adelaide's Sione Teumohenga, isn't exactly a new artist. In fact, they've been a key part of helming some of the most progressive new artists for a while now. They've worked with Allday, produced for up-and-comers like Daine, and have delivered their own stunning and unique take on the nu-metal renaissance that the world is seeing right now. Their most recent EP, Abyssal Body, celebrated its first birthday this week, and it is one to really sink your teeth into. It beautifully fuses worlds together in a way that so many other artists would've been too scared to attempt, let alone pull off.
Sydney band Sports Bra have been quiet for the past year or so, but there's no rush when their 2019 album Talk It Out still echoes throughout the music community. It's a searing onslaught of sun-drenched punk that will have you begging for a speedy return to live music. From the desperately optimistic "Little Beast" to the woozy and brash "Sparkle Heart Emoji", Sports Bra are a band that have helped usher the Sydney emo and punk scene into a new era, and will surely be the ones to take it to places we can't even conceive of.
Arguably the most high profile Australian trans artist working today, Miss Blanks hasn't ever, and will probably never, give a fuck. This Fa'afafine artist's music stands out on its own among the Aussie hip-hop scene, diving into areas of house and electronic music with ease. Her lyrics have the brazenness and delightful vulgarity of Lil' Kim and CupcakKe, while her delivery has the fire and conviction of Azealia Banks. While it's been over a year since the release of her last song – the 90s-inspired anthem "Tommy" – Miss Blanks has been busy. This year, she raised enough money to finally undergo a life-changing surgery to give her the body she belongs in – a process that she's explained is entirely too inaccessible for everyday Australians.
imbi makes music for the soul. Their voice feels like honey dripping into your ears, and it always comes back with rich, silky melodies. Their music has an irresistible sensuality and innate warmth that comes naturally for imbi – it cannot be taught. They had one of their biggest breaks to date this year with a feature on Alice Ivy's second studio album, Don't Sleep, but they've also began another endeavour; life-changing, and life-saving, surgery. They've started a GoFundMe, and at the time of writing, are just $500 away from their goal. Help imbi reach their goal here.
If you want to learn more about the issues facing trans and gender diverse Australians and make donations of support, the following organisations are great places to start: Black Rainbow, The Equality Project, Minus18, Transcend and BlaQ.