To kick off my reviews of trans artists, I’ll be starting with Twompsax: a punk band based in Oakland, CA., whose purpose is to “Play music to inspire transgender people to do whatever the f*** they want.” The band consists of pro skater Cher Strauberry and three of her best friends Izzy, Tris, and Ian.
I first heard Twompsax’s debut album I H8 ME in my room a couple years ago & ever since then, it has continuously fueled an anger that I’m not afraid to have anymore. It’s a short, 12 song album that includes 9 minutes of dysphoric rage, existing as a trans skater, and other daily pressures. Cher Strauberry, although she now plays with 3 others, recorded it on a walkman in her childhood friend’s bedroom. She played all the instruments herself.
The album starts with the track “dysphoric.” It’s exactly what dysphoria feels like the second you wake up. Like your head’s going to cave-in, chest-on-fire, body screaming til' you’re dead tired, but leaves you with enough energy to stay alive… and by the next song I am reminded just how alive I am. Twompsax pulls their inspiration from punk groups that used to be, and rather than taking them and putting a pop twist- like most groups today tend to do- they keep it hardcore. I’d argue even more so than their predecessors. Their existence within the punk scene is radical enough in and of itself. That’s why "trap" is one of my favorite songs on the album. Cher takes transphobic slurs and “makes them her f****** anthem.” It’s arming yourself with the very words that have oppressed you, reclaiming them, and existing within the spaces that you never thought you’d feel safe in. Because the punk scene/skate scene has never held their arms open to women, BIPOC, etc… Twompsax exists to create that for younger generations. They are the one of the first bands to do it. But, like any riot grrrl would, Cher makes music for herself. Songs like "eight" and "pop s***" have lyrics regarding the places inside your head and wishing they didn’t exist altogether.
But personally, what I like about Twompsax is that it all juxtaposes for me. It’s listening to “Mistake” and feeling like you are the biggest, walking disgrace, but throwing on your binder anyway. It’s the actuality of your living, breathing body- no matter how badly it feels like it’s dying. Their music has sountracked my dysphoria for so long, that it has started to relieve it. And although Cher and Tris are both femme presenting women, they’ve taught me to sink my hands and heart into my masculinity and throw the word trans in front of it. I’ve learned to embrace wifebeaters, boxers, baggy jeans, and my beaten boy-girl body. It’s the reinvention of my transness that was crying on the bathroom floor and so now I push it into the pit to riot and rage. So instead of avoiding dysphoria blues, I revel in them. I’ve learned to grasp so tightly to being trans, that I’ll never know how to be perceived as anything but. I H8 Me is mine, yours, Cher’s… It’s liberation.