LGCSF singer Pax Ahimsa Gethen reflects on gender transition, voice changes, and the role of trans people of color in the Stonewall Uprising.
Hi, I’m Pax. I sing in the bass section of LGCSF, but when I first joined our chorus in 2013, my voice was in the alto range. While singing in the alto section, I came to realize that I was transgender. Though I’d been assigned female at birth, I’d suspected for some time that I was not a woman. I’d always preferred to sing songs written for male voices, and felt out of place in a section that was, at that time, all women. I switched to the tenor section, and soon afterward started on testosterone therapy, which gradually lowered my voice to the baritone range.
I also sing with New Voices Bay Area, a new chorus hosted by the Community Music Center specifically for transgender, intersex, and genderqueer singers. This February, we hosted a symposium, Trans and Singing, which was a great opportunity to educate singers and voice teachers about the unique talents of, and challenges faced by, singers in our community.
Being transgender, I feel a special connection to the Stonewall Uprising. Trans and gender-nonconforming people, particularly people of color like myself, were on the front lines of the riots, and were the most likely to be harassed by the police. Fifty years later, there is a lot more awareness about our community, but we are still facing discrimination and violence.
One of the songs in our upcoming concert, “Glorious Beauties”, was written by Our Lady J, a trans musician known for her writing for the TV shows Transparent and Pose. One of the lyrics reads, “Some say we’re freaks, we’re monsters. We say we’re nothing new.” Indeed, trans people--under various names and faces--have always existed. We will continue to exist, persist, and resist. “No, we won’t back down.”
Video and audio editing by Pax Ahimsa Gethen and Ziggy Tomcich
“Glorious Beauties” music and lyrics by Our Lady J
Sign up for information about the Community Music Center Trans and Singing symposium: http://tinyurl.com/trans-and-singing
LGCSF will be performing "Quiet No More", a brand new choral suite celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, at our OUT in the Streets concert on May 31. Get tickets at https://stonewall50.brownpapertickets.com/.
joined the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in August of 1984, after seeing them sing in the Pride Concert the previous June and their director, Matt O'Grady, announced that if anyone in the audience wanted to join the chorus that auditions would be coming up so he joined. During his time in the chorus he has always sang in the bass section. He has served as Music Librarian, on the Production Committee, the Artistic Advisory Committee, as a bass section leader, as the GALA liaison and currently as chorus historian. He is glad to create this blog for the chorus to get the history out to anyone who looks at our website.