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These Trans Icons Spearheaded Queer Culture

Trans culture lies inextricable from queer culture. Yet within wider queer spheres, despite the known fact that it is most often the trans community who throws the inaugural bricks of change, they continue to experience exclusion, with trans icons receiving notedly less recognition than their cis peers.

The frame is improving, however. Presently, in the media, trans representation is heightening. Depending on your algorithmic alignments, perhaps radically so. Nowadays, trans representation in the media is less frequently an intrusive, offensively simplified dissection of transness. A curative alternative, we instead see celebrations of culture, lived experience and community. This article will continue along that line, documenting the euphoria, authenticity and leadership of five trans icons throughout 2022. Spotlighting the issues and projects they choose to centre and the quietly – or loudly – revolutionary lives they lead.

List of Trans Icons Spearheaded Queer Culture

Kim Petras & Sam Smith

Kim Petras is a 30-year-old German singer-songwriter whose sound centres on pop and EDM. A collaborator with industry names such as Juicewrld, Charli XCX, and Kygo, she, alongside Smith, reached the prime spot in the Billboard Top 100 last year. Sam Smith, for most queers, is a household name. Holding, to name the minimum, four Grammys and three Brits, Smith continues to thrive, providing necessary nonbinary representation in the mainstream.

The song is epochal in itself – and in the history it made. With its chart-topping, Petras became the first transgender woman to reach number one in the United States. Smith, her nonbinary counterpart in this feat. “Unholy,” a song outing infidelity and the falling ideal of monogamy, struck resonance with the world in 2022, whether for beat, content or perhaps both. 

Yasmin Finney

Finney, representing the experience of trans youth in the British school system, captured hearts with her 2022 Heartstopper Season 1 performance. To be continued this year with Season 2. Within, she is a girl living her life, her transness at her disposal to discuss and celebrate, not that of self-congratulatory cishetero desires. 

On another screen, that of TikTok, she is similarly inspirational. Near daily, she documents her experience as a young trans woman in Manchester for over 2.9 million avid followers. 

Elliot Page

In 2022, Page mastered the art of the trans boy thirst trap. A cultivated art which, when catered to the female gaze, and I speak from personal experience, never misses. 

Alongside such noble pursuits, Page incorporated his transition into The Umbrella Academy. Speaking to Seth Myers, he is introspective and radical in his vulnerability. “What I want to focus on right now, and has been so extraordinary, is the degree of joy that I feel, the degree of presence that I feel. I feel a way that I really never thought possible for a long, long time.”

Shon Faye

Faye stands as an icon for her capacity to pursue all endeavours in the name of trans liberation.

In 2021, Shon Faye published The Transgender Issue: An Argument For Justice. This work explores how issues across the board e.g. housing, employment and class affect the trans community and their hopes of liberation. Following this debut, which sparkled worldwide, Faye then graced our screens with look after look on her book tour.

This past year, in prerequisite to her 2025 due book Love in Exile, Faye launched her advice column “Dear Shon” at Vogue. The column proffers needed sex and dating advice. Actioning questions such as “Can I Consider Myself Queer If I Have Only Been With Men?” and “Should I Get Back Together With The Ex Who Won’t Leave Me Alone? – Shon leaves no less than healthy dating tendencies unexplored.

While researching this article, I encountered the HER blog. Within the infamous queer dating app’s blog, peppered with resources on trans dating, friendship and general well-being, Robyn Exton muses, “trans people in our community encounter barriers to healthcare and experience harassment, assault, and discrimination that contribute to and predict mental health issues.” You can download the HER app and check it out for yourself.  

To deny the truth of the trans contribution to our culture and to deny the trans community aid and honouring in equitable parts is an aggression to not only the trans community. It is an assault on the health of our queer culture and the trueness of the values we hold. 

In 2023, let us strive to overcome statistics such as approximately half of the trans community experiencing depression or anxiety. 

Let us do better in celebrating, honouring and aiding our trans siblings.

Team Nonchalant x

Maedbh Pierce
Maedbh Pierce

Currently living in Berlin, yet tragically, not a fan of techno, Maedbh (she/her) is an English and Philosophy graduate (UCD, Dublin) and freelance writer. To date, her writing explores and celebrates queer identity, life and culture.

Find me on: Instagram

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