On September 12, New York hip-hop DJ Mister Cee made headlines for picking up a transgender woman for sex, at once outing himself and rocking the hip-hop world. But what about the person on the other side of that headline? The stories of trans* (queer shorthand these days for transgender, transsexual and other gender non-conforming identities) folks in pop music history have all too often been limited to the occasional blaring headline, the frequent dirty little secret, the shocking post-mortem "reveal." But what if we shifted the focus so that trans* people became the protagonists in pop music history?
This playlist is an attempt to do just that: to shine the spotlight on the small but growing number of artists who have been courageous enough to brave the serious social obstacles, often extreme cultural castigation and mighty career roadblocks that trans* and other gender-queer people face: Jazz musician Billy Tipton (whose transgender identity was "revealed" upon his death), Israeli pop star Dana International (who won the Eurovision song contest), out-and-proud hip-hop artist Katastrophe (who also founded groundbreaking trans* publication Original Plumbing), Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace (previously known as Tom Gabel before she bravely came out as a trans* woman last year) and more. Simply by being themselves, these artists are not only helping to open up our often rigid social parameters of sex and gender, they're also changing pop history by making some damn fine music doing it.