Skip to the main content
“Even though I started to become more comfortable in my body, my guitar began to feel like a phantom limb.”
March 24, 2017

Ever since I picked up my first guitar at 16, music has been a core part of who I’ve been. Coming from a small town in Michigan, I didn’t always feel like I belonged and craved to find a way to connect with others. Music is that medium for me. It almost has an ethereal power that tears down barriers. It is not just about playing an instrument, it is an area I can fully and emotionally dive into.

Reflecting back, maybe that is why it was so hard to play music when I came out as a woman. Transitioning can be a scary experience. You don’t know how people—from strangers to your parents—will react.

There is one thing that made coming out easier: The fact that for more than 11 years, Washington has had a law on the books that protects transgender people like me from discrimination. That means that even though I didn’t know if people would accept me for who I was, I did know that I couldn’t get fired from my job, or kicked out of the bars and clubs where I used to play music, just because I’m transgender.

But coming out was still an act of vulnerability—and I was having a hard time dedicating myself fully to making music. So while I was opening up to everyone around me, I held off on playing. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was afraid of being taken less seriously as a musician or seen as a joke.

So I bottled that part of myself. Even though I started to become more comfortable in my body, my guitar began to feel like a phantom limb. Only it wasn’t missing—it was sitting there collecting dust.

“But coming out was still an act of vulnerability—and I was having a hard time dedicating myself fully to making music. So while I was opening up to everyone around me, I held off on playing. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was afraid of being taken less seriously as a musician or seen as a joke.”

Finally, my best friend Steven was playing for an open mic night and asked me to join him. It was his first time playing and I wanted him to feel supported, letting go of my fears in the process. After six months, an eternity in guitar years, I played in public again [you can see this performance here].

In a lot of ways, this was the rebirth of my music.

I now have a YouTube channel where I am now completely open about sharing my music and my personal experiences as a transgender woman. This openness has led me to a sea of friendships across the globe.

It has now been over two years since I’ve openly come out and I didn’t know I could find such relief. I used to constantly think about how I should act based on others expectations. Now I don’t have to think, I just am. It took me a while but I’ve started to understand that only you can decide who you are.

“It has now been over two years since I’ve openly come out and I didn’t know I could find such relief. I used to constantly think about how I should act based on others expectations. Now I don’t have to think, I just am.”

But unfortunately now, transgender people like me in Washington have real reason to be scared again. Why? There’s an effort underway right now to repeal our state’s non-discrimination protections that have ensured fair and equal treatment for transgender Washingtonians. Right now, signature gatherers are hitting the streets to collect petitions for I-1552, a discriminatory ballot initiative that would put the repeal of transgender protections on the ballot this November. This means that even though I’m accepted by my friends and family, and I’m playing music again, if I-1552 passes, I could be denied access to public facilities simply because of who I am.

Right now, the proponents of I-1552 are trying furiously to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot this fall. But fair-minded Washingtonians are standing up for fairness and freedom—and you can join them by signing up with the Decline to Sign I-1552 campaign.