Port Lucian Uses Twitter to Curate ‘Trans Musicians and Allies for Change’ Compilation

Photo Credit: Julia Leiby

We all know that the internet can be a dark, scary place. But sometimes, it can also be a catalyst for beautiful projects that inspire change. Twenty-one year old college junior Portia Maidment (of Port Lucian) harnessed the power of the internet and used it to create a new compilation, Trans Musicians and Allies for Change, out via Ztapes on March 5th. The comp is made up of nineteen different artists from around the world, ranging from an acoustic Diners ode to chilling out, to the watery shoegaze of Floor Cry. All proceeds from the cassette will be donated to Trans Lifeline, a 24-hr hotline dedicated to offering support to trans and gender non-conforming folks.

Maidment, a pre-med student at Case Western Reserve University, was first inspired to make this project after taking a class on transgender literature. “That [class] sort of boosted my interest in transgender rights,” says Maidment. “So, I’m actually applying to medical school so I can eventually perform gender affirming surgeries and things like that.”

If you’re wondering how a pre-med student managed to organize an entire compilation album in the midst of a pandemic, you’re not alone. But Maidment said it was actually pretty easy. “I would hit people up on Twitter and ask if they were interested in this comp,” she says. “That’s honestly how I did the whole thing. A lot of people that are on the comp, I don’t know, but because I had support from a label and a cohesive idea, it just sort of came together.” And the power of the internet prevails.

Maidment’s patchwork approach to choosing the artists is evident in the diversity of sound on the record. Whether it’s an acoustic Joni Mitchell track from Philly indie pop band 2nd Grade or a trademark conversational narrative from Fred Thomas, all of the tracks are either previously unreleased demos or written specifically for it. While all of the songs feel vulnerable and personal, some speak specifically to the transgender experience.

Toronto-based indie group Little Kid explores the importance of defining your own identity in “What’s in a Name?” In the most gentle of voices, singer and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Boothby distills the emotional fallout that can occur after a person chooses to change their name. “Oh babe, what’s in a name?/Grew tired of the one that your parents gave/They heard that you wanted to change it like trumpets on judgment day.” Many transgender and non-binary folks experience pushback from friends and family members when announcing their name change, making the transition harder than it needs to be. Aside from the administrative cost of a name change – ranging from $150-$450 – the emotional cost can be huge. Having to remind your friends, family and strangers of your new name over and over again can be emotionally exhausting and invalidate your identity.

Boothby goes on to support the sentiment that these type of dismissive of reactions usually have nothing to do with the person they’re directed at, but rather, a deep-rooted resistance to change or anything outside of what they know. He sings, “Guess they still don’t know how to behave when they can’t place you anywhere.” The song is a validating, soothing reflection on affirming your identity, and an ever so tender fuck off to those who don’t respect it.

Unfortunately, the theme of people not respecting transgender or gender non-conforming folks’ pronouns, identities and safety is a global epidemic. This threat to safety and selfhood can undoubtedly drive people into dark places. And while organizations like Trans Lifeline are an amazing resource for folks that are struggling, sometimes it’s extremely difficult to take the first step in reaching out. In their song “Are You Doing Alright?” Kennedy Freeman of Highnoon addresses anxiety and depression and encourages listeners to reach out to their friends. Freeman says they wrote the song in December, a time when they were especially feeling the effects of being isolated during lockdown.

Although they tried recording the song a few different ways, they say that a voice recording felt the most natural. “Phone audio can feel really familiar and comforting in a way for me too,” says Freeman. “I wanted it to feel like a close friend reaching out leaving a message or something.” The feeling definitely comes across and feels poignant to this project in particular. “This song felt applicable to the compilation,” says Freeman, “specifically the idea of a lifeline people can access when they’re struggling and how important queer friendships and mutual support can be to gender non-conforming people.”

Much like the community it aims to support, Trans Musicians and Allies for Change is colorful, varied, and refuses to fit in any one box or description. The funds from this compilation will go straight to Trans Lifeline, where they will be used to provide direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. Grab yourself a copy – today is Bandcamp Friday, so the streaming platform is waiving their revenue share – and proceed to listen in awe.

You can reach Trans Lifeline at US (877) 565-8860 or Canada (877) 330-6366. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255

ALBUM REVIEW: Shawna Virago “Heaven Sent Delinquent”


Released late last year, Heaven Sent Delinquent is the must-hear folk punk record from “transgender trickster” Shawna Virago. The album is composed of 10 solo acoustic tales, that true or spun from Virago’s brilliance, give us plot lines to how she got to her current hometown. “These are the stories of my generation – a generation of transgender people who came out long before the internet, before transgender celebrities and reality TV stars … before anybody gave a shit about us,” she writes in a press release.

Based in San Fransisco, Virago has performed as an out transwoman since the early 90’s. The artistic director of San Fransisco’s Transgender Film Festival, she’s an artist of many skill sets, and if you are unfamiliar with her work, Heaven Sent Delinquent is a perfect place to start.

When we hear terms such as “Americana” or “folk music,” we’re often flooded with images of cowboys or Bob Dylan – cisgender men. The year is 2017, and it’s time to hear new stories that are more interesting than that you’re used to in the realm of telling tales with a voice and guitar. With queer rebel heroes, with “flame-colored hair, and rhinestoned suits,” Heaven Sent Delinquent paints the landscape of your mind with a cast of outsiders on road trips and love stories, enjoying escape with whiskey out of paper cups. “Too many of us were runaways, survivors. But we never gave up. These songs are the stories of myself and my friends. How we managed to find each other in an unfriendly world, fought together, loved each other,” writes Virago’ in a press release.

From crashing cars through the gates of heaven in a gender rebellion to calling out a lover’s fear and vanity, Virago’s vivid story-telling abilities and haunting voice are perhaps best introduced on the album’s first single, “Gender Armageddon,” a song penned as a “tribute to the desperate camaraderie of queer outsiders not afraid to punch back against a hostile world.”

Yet don’t stop there. The album slows down to make way for melancholy on “Last Night’s Sugar,” and she’ll strum your range of emotions on the title track “Heaven Sent Delinquent,” an anthem for “outsiders too timid or shackled by family and economics to make it out of the oppressive towns where they were born” Perhaps one of Virago’s most apt gifts on the album is an ability to blend emotions into song as complicated as they sit within our hearts – and not only make sense out of them – but art. Such skills are evoked on “Anniversary Song,” that celebrates love as much as her own independence.

In our current political climate, there’s been a lot of discussion on how to be an ally and the validity and importance of turning pain into art. If you’re looking for a place to start, support trans artists like Shawna Virago, but not simply for her gender, but because her music is dope.

Stream Heaven Sent Delinquent below.

LIVE REVIEW: Laura Jane Grace @ The Silent Barn


Last summer, when Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender, headlines exploded as if the world had never seen a trans celebrity before. But meanwhile, Laura Jane Grace, the front-woman of popular punk-rock band Against Me!, had been out for three years and had long been making music about trans issues. Even before they came out, her struggles with gender identity found their way into her songs, she told a jam-packed room in Bushwick art and performance venue The Silent Barn Thursday night. “Every single Against Me! record has songs that are just me dealing with gender dysphoria.”

She was in Brooklyn for a benefit concert hosted by Gender Is Over, a group she has supported by sporting and raffling off a T-shirt with its logo to raise money for organizations that assist the trans community. The proceeds from Thursday’s show went to help undocumented immigrants gain representation, which is disproportionately difficult for LGBT people.


The whole night centered around social justice. Brooklyn-based artist, writer, and Worriers front-person Lauren Denitzio performed songs like “They/Them/Theirs” that critique the gender binary. Singer/songwriter David Dondero sang “New Berlin Wall,” which calls on the government to help immigrants with the resources it currently uses to keep them out.

The shaky tenor of Dondero’s voice would make you think Conor Oberst inspired his work, but it’s the other way around: Oberst has cited him as a major influence. Given his poetic storytelling, it’s easy to see why. His music’s candid autobiographical vignettes are well worth a listen.


But even during these performances, the audience yelled for Laura Jane Grace to come on stage. Gender Is Over didn’t list her among the evening’s performers — they only named a “special guest” by the pseudonym Clarice Starling — but most attendees had caught who the headliner was through word of mouth. When she finally got on stage, she misheard “I love you, Laura” as “Fuck you, Laura” but didn’t seem to mind. “I’m flexible,” she reassured everyone.

With her new act Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, she played Against Me! favorites like “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” and “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong.” She sang her old lyrics the way she originally wrote them, before she revised them to hide her gender while living as a man. In “Pretty Girls,” she added the line, “You wouldn’t think something like gender identity would complicate something like asking for some company.” What seemed like a tribute to the nerves associated with asking someone out was in fact a confession about how Grace’s gender impeded her romantic relationships.


Grace also read passages in progress from her upcoming book, which documents everything from her childhood identification with Madonna, who she thought she was singing “Cheerio girl,” to the pressure she felt to stay silent when her colleagues made transphobic remarks, her spontaneous proposal to her ex-wife, and her decision to stop caring whether or not she passed. All these stories, in different ways, called for smashing the patriarchy and gender roles.

The mainstream media still present Caitlyn Jenner as the go-to authority on trans issues. But unlike the politically conservative Jenner, Grace has long been advocating progressive politics in her music, and she has never advised any trans woman not to “look like a man in a dress.” Based on the screaming crowd’s reactions to the powerful words she spoke and sang, she’s the role model the trans community is rallying around.