Kokumo: Transgender Recording Artist and Activist Talks About Her New EP and What Empowerment for T.G.I. People of Color Means

Can you talk a bit about working in the tradition of African-American artists who are also activists for social justice and how those two things feed each other in your work?

Most definitely. This is my testimony. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I’m from the South side of Chicago. You know from a lower-middle-class family. I’m dark skinned. I’m plus-sized. I’m afro-centric and therefore I’m marginalized even within the margins. There aren’t many transgender women like myself. So for me I can’t separate the two [art and activism]. Before I knew I was transgender I knew I was an artist. Before puberty hit and before everyone was telling me, “You’re a boy.” I wanted to be Whitney Houston. I wanted to be Brandy. Then I found out I was trans and people told me I couldn’t be a musician. I had this period of adjustment, this period of not understanding, this period of giving up on my dream. That’s when the activism came in. I am an artist and I feel like my contribution is just as important as anybody else’s. Therefore, me being transgender shouldn’t stop that. That’s why as an artist, as an activist I believe in creating space through my company Kokumomedia Inc. for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people to create media the way they see fit. That’s why I can’t separate the two. That’s why they have to go hand in hand. Because I’m a trans person, I don’t have the social privilege. I have to educate as well as create my art. And it’s necessary for me to educate via my art.

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You can download Kokumo’s EP at http://kokumomedia.com/kokumo-music-2/

Kokumo is hosting the Trans 100 Launch March 31 in Chicago https://www.facebook.com/Trans100?fref=ts

For more information on T.G.I.F. go to: http://kokumomedia.com/kokumo-philanthropy-2/