Elevating Trans Voices: New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus

Creating community through music, especially through singing, is an incredible gift that we all possess. We have this amazing ability to connect through communal music-making, communal creation, and shared purpose, and it’s something that is perfectly encapsulated in choir and choral settings.

It’s such a refreshing and soul-releasing opportunity that we have, becoming an amazing community space that people not only enjoy but in many cases truly need as a place to connect with other trans people, to collaborate with other trans people, and to create something new with other trans people. Whether that creation is something beautiful or something raw and powerful—whether it’s grieving, protesting, or simply being—it’s incredible that we can come together and achieve that through music. Jessalyn Levine, co-director; New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus

The International Transgender Day of Visibility stands as a beacon of recognition, celebration, and empowerment. At Community Music Center, this day holds profound significance as we continue to champion inclusivity and diversity through our programs and initiatives. At the heart of our commitment to fostering inclusivity is the New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus. This groundbreaking ensemble provides a space for singers who self-identify as transgender, intersex, or gender-queer (TIGQ) to come together, express themselves freely, and amplify their voices through the beauty of music.

The chorus isn’t just about inclusive singing practices; it’s about creating a supportive, nurturing community where TIGQ individuals can thrive creatively and emotionally. It’s about reclaiming voices that have been silenced or shamed, and rewriting the narrative surrounding gender identity and music. From beginners to professionals, each member brings their unique experiences and perspectives, forming a rich tapestry of voices united in harmony.

I joined my first choir when I was 7. So I’ve been doing choral music my entire life, And there’s something really special about taking a group of people who may not know anything about each other yet and creating something beautiful to listen to and beautiful to witness, and that moment when you sing your first harmony with another human being, and you hear that tonal melt. And then to do that in a room with people who are also trans, who can understand this other societal experience that you bring to the room, so that we can protest, so that we can grieve so that we can celebrate. But doing it together has been a staple way for me to create a community in my life, and then to share that with other people who are maybe new to it, and other people who have been doing it forever is just a wonderfully, like, mixed Gorgeous. 

Kirby Lee, singer; New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus

Since its inception in 2018, the New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus has been a trailblazer, making waves both locally and nationally. From poignant performances at the SF Trans Day of Remembrance to captivating audiences at prestigious venues like Grace Cathedral and the Billboard Music Awards, the chorus has showcased the power of music to transcend boundaries and foster understanding.

Featured on NPR and in the SF Chronicle, the chorus has garnered widespread acclaim for its commitment to artistic excellence and social advocacy. Yet, perhaps its most remarkable feat lies in its ethos of inclusivity, welcoming new TIGQ singers without auditioning. This radical approach not only ensures accessibility but also sends a powerful message of acceptance and validation to individuals whose voices have historically been excluded or overlooked.

As we commemorate Trans Day of Visibility, we invite you to join the Trans Day of Visibility Concert & Community Sing this Sunday.