Something undeniable is happening. Social media is vibrating with an impending sense of revolution, and the inescapable results of this can be found in hidden pockets of our youth culture. Slowly but surely, people are finding themselves, they are coming out of hiding for all to see, and they are not compromising. They are they. They are genderqueer, genderfluid, genderquestioning. Whatever you want to call it, the way we see gender is finally changing.
We are in the fledging stages of this revolution---this mass awareness of the gender question---and still working out what the right words are. Before I present this list of artists who are paving the way, I want to help the reader understand what I mean by "non-binary."
Designed by It's Pronounced Metrosexual, this handy chart helps to break down various gender identities, expressions and attractions into the spectrums that we are coming to accept as "the norm." This chart presents the idea that these facets of gender are not a "binary"---a system that places people into a "yes" or "no" category. Typically, the binary is a belief that is adopted by "cisgendered" or "heteronormative" peoples.
Is it making sense yet? So if gender is on a spectrum, wouldn't that mean that everyone is non-binary? Yes, it would, even if it's unbeknownst to you. But for the sake of our list, we are counting artists who have fully accepted the non-binary, who identify as non-binary and are working actively to dismantle the binary system of gender categorization.
- Cute Puke
Formerly Girlsloth, this Atlantan trio opted for a gender fluid name with the release of their 8-track demo, a delightful assortment of sad songs with a sweet delivery that is making twee cool again. For the music savvy, think Field Mice meets The Frumpies or Sleater-Kinney meets Belle and Sebastian.
- Antony Hegarty aka ANOHNI
The only transgender person to ever be nominated for an Academy Award, Antony or Anohni has explored pieces of their own gender dysphoria through sorrowful ballads and beautifully rendered orchestral pieces. With a passion for ecocide and a very vocal stance on the U.S.’s obsession with cashflow, Anohni is an opinionated role model for anyone with a pulse.
- Juliana Huxtable
JULIANA HUXTABLE from Pierce Adler on Vimeo.
Cosby Show-alluding internet it-girl and trans icon, Huxtable is a DJ, photographer, model, poet, you name it. Belonging to the art collective, House of LaDosha, art seems to ooze out of her in all directions.
- Christeene Vale
CHRISTEENE "African Mayonnaise" from PJ Raval on Vimeo.
Vale is a Texas queen who is transforming the way you view drag. Where RuPaul does “queen” drag, here’s Christeene, accessorizing with black garbage bags. She’s toured with Peaches, writes intentionally seedy and satirical raps, and describes herself as a genderqueer “drag terrorist.”
If you’ve missed old school political punk---think Au Pairs, ESG, Eve Libertine---then Shopping is for you. Political by natural and not by purpose, the UK-based post-punk group is making waves for their anti-capitalist message, and for picking up where radical second-wave feminism left off.
- Rae Spoon
Having grown up in Canada as transgender, Spoon has been writing folk country since the 90s. Their story was considered so vitally significant to the nation of Canada that the National Film Board shot a documentary about their life and music. Titled My Prairie Home, the documentary shares names with an album that was composed to play throughout.
- Tunde Olaniran
Usually categorized under rap, Olaniran is a one-man R&B machine sans instruments. An LGBTQ activist with a vocal range that extends across four octaves, Olaniran’s 2015 Transgressor is as preoccupied with gender identity as it is 808 kicks.
- Them Are Us Too
Seeming to have appeared fully-formed out of nowhere, TAUT presents lush, shimmering down-tempo pop that reinvigorates the 80s new wave sound---think Chairlift before “Cha-Ching.” Clashing Cocteau Twins with Creation Records, 2015’s Eudamonia from Dais Records plays like an tropical goth dream.
Formerly of The Measures, Lauren Denitzo heads this Brooklyn-based pop-punk outfit. Straightforward and fun, Worriers makes feel-good music with the oversight of Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace.
- G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society's Shit)
A hardcore punk band from Olympia, WA who has garnered underground success for vocalizing queer and trans experience with unapologetically brutal honesty. Despite transphobic remarks from contemporaries---see band Whirr, who was dropped from their Savannah label as a response---their recent demo has been hailed as one of the best punk releases of the year.