This artist is creating a space for trans people to make music, together
WARNING: This story mentions suicide and suicidal thoughts
CBC Quebec is highlighting people from the province's Black communities who are giving back, inspiring others and helping to shape our future. These are the Black Changemakers.
Blxck Cxsper, a non-binary Montreal-based producer and rapper, says people who aren't trans will never truly understand what their life is like.
But they're not trying to make others understand. What they want is for people to be able to relate — and they believe music is one way to achieve that.
"You don't need fancy words, and to talk about, like trans or queer theory, you know? You just need to be like, hey, do you see me now? I'm trans. I'm about to sing you a song about how I got my heart broken, and it's going to make you cry. And then you're going to look at me and you're going to be like, 'holy shit, we're the same person,'" they said.
Blxck Cxsper has been making music since they were a child. They put out a few albums before coming out as trans.
But once they came out, they found that they weren't being booked for shows, had access to fewer opportunities, and were the only Black trans person in the room when they did get opportunities.
Fed up of feeling alone, they reached out to other trans people and produced a mixtape called Trans Trenderz that featured 14 artists on it. The experience was so empowering that Blxck Cxsper decided they didn't want the project to be a one-off.
They created Trans Trenderz, a record label with a mission to help transgender artists achieve mainstream success while feeling empowered and respected for who they are, in 2017. The name is a reappropriation of a slur used to delegitimize transgender people and their experiences.
Last summer, Blxck Cxsper offered to provide Black transgender artists with free beats. They wanted to make sure that anyone who wanted to express themselves through music could make some money. That social media callout became the Ghostly Beats project, which pairs Black transgender artists with Grammy award-winning engineers and Grammy caliber facilities.
Blxck Cxsper says what motivates them more than anything else is the fact that they want to kill themselves. But their suicidal thoughts aren't brought on by self-hate; rather, the thoughts come from living in a world they feel doesn't value them.
"For me, the alternative to killing myself is changing the world so that I don't want to kill myself anymore," they said.
"I'm tired, and I don't want to live in a world where I'm tired … all the time."
A report released last year on the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary people in Canada found that racialized respondents reported high levels of discrimination, violence and assault. And at least 37 transgender and gender non-conforming people were victims of fatal violence in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Music, they said, has always been a source of spirituality and healing for Black people, and they have seen, with their own eyes, how music can help humanize transgender people.
"I have had shows where, you know, you see a couple of guys in the foreground and they're all looking at me like, with disgust in their eyes when they find out I'm trans," they said.
"But then three songs in, they're on stage with me turning up because they're like, 'OK, you made me feel something,' you know? And so if I can feel what you feel, then you're a human being, you know what I mean?"
If you are in crisis or know someone who is, here is where to get help:
- Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text, 4 p.m. to midnight ET only) crisisservicescanada.ca
- In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at kidshelpphone.ca
- Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre
- Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366 or translifeline.org.
The Black Changemakers is a special series recognizing individuals who, regardless of background or industry, are driven to create a positive impact in their community. From tackling problems to showing small gestures of kindness on a daily basis, these changemakers are making a difference and inspiring others. Meet all the changemakers here.
Written by Kamila Hinkson, with files from Rowan Kennedy