Transgender Artists to Look Out For
I was scrolling through my Instafeed the other day when I came across a video of Casper Purtlebaugh, who currently goes by the artist name Jakk Fynn, performing a cover of Blackbear’s “Do Re Mi.” It was the coolest underground music find I’ve had in a while, and it got me thinking about how many awesome transgender artists and musicians there are out there who don’t receive the media attention they deserve. So, for this article I’m going to highlight some really talented transgender people that I wish were popping up in my Snapchat adds and on my Twitter dash.
Seeing as he was the inspiration behind this article, it seems fitting to put transgender musician Jakk Fynn at the top of the list. At the time the video that caught my attention was posted, Jakk Fynn was going by the artist name Baughleon, but he has since decided to let go of this name—it was adopted before transitioning, and “Jakk Fynn” offered the opportunity to start fresh. You can find the stunning, jazz-pop cover on his YouTube channel. With his intoxicating voice, which slides effortlessly up into the falsetto range and back down to a more sultry range, Jakk Fynn created such a dope version of this song that I didn’t feel the need to even go check out the original (still haven’t given it a listen–sorry Blackbear, I stan Jakk Fynn). The “Do Re Mi” cover was one installment in the three-part “Loveless Series,” which also included a cover of Halsey’s “100 Letters” and Dua Lipa’s “New Rules.” Before going solo as Jakk Fynn, Casper Purtlebaugh was the frontman for the post-hardcore band, Boigirl. If you want to learn more about Jakk Fynn or stay up to date on the cool stuff he is making, check out his website and his Insta and Twitter: @jakkfynn.
If you haven’t yet seen photos of Andreja Pejic serving looks on Instagram that make you feel inferior about yourself, or staring out at you from the pages of Vogue, do yourself a favor and look her up asap. This 27-year-old model was born in Bosnia and was forced to flee the country during the Bosnian War, settling at a refugee camp in Serbia with her brother, mother, and grandmother, and later in a village called Vojska. Ultimately, due to lack of safety, Pejic and her family moved to Australia, fleeing a war zone and becoming a refugee at such a young age—talk about a badass underdog story. Throw in there the fact that she was figuring out her identity, and eventually becoming one of the most well-known faces for transgender representation—this surpasses badass and enters into an unreal realm of inspiring. Before transitioning, Pejic walked in both men’s and women’s shows, and there was a period of time in which she identified as gender fluid. She has appeared on the cover of ample notable fashion magazines, including Elle, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ. Additionally, Pejic has won several honors, including being ranked number 18 on 2011s Top 50 models list. In 2013, she began the process of sex reassignment surgery, and in 2015, she became the first openly transgender model to be profiled by Vogue. Her Instagram and Twitter: @andrejapejic
I found ALOK on Instagram while perusing the hashtag #transgenderartist, and I am shocked I hadn’t heard of their work as a poet, performer, and LGBTQ+ activist sooner. With 129 thousand followers on Instagram and the huge honor of being the youngest recipient of the Live Works Performance Act Award, Alok Vaid-Menon is a force to be reckoned with. To be clear, while ALOK’s identity falls under the umbrella of transgender, they specifically identify as gender nonconforming and transfeminine. ALOK has appeared on the HBO documentary The Trans List, has performed at nearly 200 colleges across the world, and has authored a poetry book titled FEMME IN PUBLIC that was published in 2017. Check out ALOK’s website and social media channels (Instagram and Twitter: @alokvmenon) to learn more about the diverse accomplishments and extraordinary career they have fostered.
Okay, so remember how I found ALOK on Instagram through the hashtag? It was actually a hashtag on one of Rae Senarighi’s posts of an absolutely stunning painting he had made of ALOK. Senarighi is a transgender artist currently based in Portland who recently created the portrait series “TRANSCEND,” which highlights non-binary and transgender people across the world living their truth despite the very real dangers of being openly transgender. Senarighi was featured on the Netflix special First Time I Saw Me, which addressed how the transgender community is significantly underrepresented in media. Senarighi sells prints of his work online, and visits universities and other events as a public speaker with several discussion topics, including “Radical Self Love” and “Tools For Authenticity in Fine Art.” Rae’s website, and Instagram and Twitter: @transpainter.
Asia Kate Dillon
Many will recognize Asia Kate Dillon from their appearances in Orange Is the New Black as the character Brandy Epps, but what many don’t know is how far-reaching their impact on transgender representation in media has been. Dillon identifies as non-binary, and takes every opportunity they can get to proudly discuss what this means and why it is important for people outside of the gender binary to be represented accurately in television. Dillon made history last January when they became the first actor to play a non-binary character on American primetime television. The role was Taylor Mason in Showtime’s Billions, and earned Dillon a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the Critics’ Choice Awards. Dillon’s rhetoric around the gender divisions in award shows inspired the MTV Movie and TV Awards to make all their categories gender neutral. You can see them on screen next in John Wick 3. Asia Kate Dillon’s Instagram and Twitter: @asiakatedillon.