Kim Petras says the road to fame while trans was twice as long

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Musician Kim Petras recently opened up about the challenges she faced as a trans woman trying to make it in the music industry.

Petras’s fame has skyrocketed as of late due to the song “Unholy,” her hit with nonbinary singer Sam Smith.

The hit single broke ground last October, becoming the first song by out trans and nonbinary artists to reach the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. And in early February, the song won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, making Smith and Petras the first trans and nonbinary artists to win that award.

“It’s cool that people are catching on,” she told Billboard, explaining that for so long she has been “hustling and playing clubs.”

“[Before] it was like, ‘Oh, the gays love her,’ but people didn’t want me on their songs. I didn’t get budgets approved. It was rough… and now different people are hitting me up to collaborate and get in the studio.”

She said the industry’s attitude toward trans artists has changed significantly in the past five years.

“When I tried to sign to [labels] in the beginning of my career, it was like, ‘What is the fan base going to be? How do we market this? There isn’t a place for you.’ Then I went to gay clubs and built a solid fan base and showed everyone it’s possible. Now they have to accept it. I’m happy there are more trans artists now that are being taken seriously. I just don’t want to be the last.”

Petras also gave a shout-out to some of her pop idols, like Cher, Madonna, and Lana Del Ray.

“Women in pop music were my only friends in high school,” she said, adding that they gave her the strength to transition and “live my life authentically.”

In her speech after her Grammy’s win, Petras also thanked the trans artists who paved the way for her win, with a special shout-out to producer and songwriter Sophie, who died in 2021.

“Sophie, especially,” Petras said. “My friend who passed away two years ago, who told me this would happen and always believed in me. Thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie. I adore you and your inspiration will forever be in my music.”

Petras also delivered a poignant tribute to her mother: “I grew up next to a highway in nowhere Germany, and my mother believed me that I was a girl and I wouldn’t be here without her and her support and everyone who believed in me to this point.”

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