Happy.’s Tate Logan shares a personal essay about identity, visibility, acceptance, and his experience as a transgender man in the pop punk music scene. Happy.’s sophomore album ‘Imposter Syndrome’ is out now via Rude Records.
Stream: ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – Happy.
My mother ritually cleaned the house to Bringing Down the Horse by The Wallflowers when I was a toddler and gave me the proposition of having to know the words to every Eagles song by the time I was 15 or be disowned. My father would tell the story of blowing the windows out of the Mustang he saved so hard for in high school from blasting Mötley Crüe just a little too loud. My Grandma saw Jimi Hendrix play the National Anthem with his teeth in the literal flesh, and my Grandpa traveled around the country in a rock band called “Hooker” long before I was even a thought in the universe.
Music runs through my veins. I started playing violin in 4th grade thanks to a fancy little arts infused elementary school my parents moved across town for us to attend. When I decided black jeans and punk rock was “way cooler dude” in middle school, I taught myself how to play guitar and drums. I still kinda wish I stuck with violin on the side at least a little bit. That’d be rad now. From freshman year on, I played in multiple different bands of all genres. One thing was always consistent though: I was the “girl” in the band.
My name is Tate Logan. I sing and play guitar in Happy., and I am transgender.
I am a man, a guy, a dude, a bro, a buddy. It has taken me a long time and a lot of work to be as comfortable and content as I am now. I came out as trans and began my transition at 19. I have had to fight for myself in the music scene to demand a space to exist and create openly. While growing up, I knew literally no one else like me in the Warped Tour/pop punk/emo scene. Laura Jane Grace was someone I came to be familiar with later in college, but I still didn’t know of a single trans man.
I was navigating the industry completely alone.
The first point I want to make is about what it was like being a woman in the music industry before I came out. This was the beginning of my journey as a musician and taught me crucial lessons. Women are not taken as seriously as men in so many ways, it is simply ridiculous and I know this first hand. I have experienced this clear as day in black and white. Women scream this from the rooftops every day in the industry but for some reason a lot of men don’t listen. Maybe for some wild reason because I am a man now, other men will listen to me when I say this. Women are as capable as men in every aspect of music. Before my transition I was constantly running into examples of this. All the classics:
“Which guy in the band are you dating?”
“Are you the merch girl for one of the bands playing tonight?”
“Here, let me carry that for you!”
“Let me show you how it’s REALLY done.”
“I’d feel more comfortable talking to one of the guys in your band about this.”
“We just don’t think a girl in the band is a good idea on tour.”
Guess what? Now that I present as a man, not a single one of those things has happened to me. Not a single one. I have the same brain. I am the same person on the inside. Quit treating women like they can’t do the same things as men, it infuriates me.
After I transitioned I decided to start this band, Happy. It was the first time I felt proud of who I was; I was ready to show the world my music through my authentic self.
No more feeling like there was a hole in my heart. No more crying because an article called me “she” over and over and over. No more being embarrassed of my voice. This project is special to me for so many reasons, but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the biggest one. Happy. is the only band I have ever been my real self in. My bandmates support me every single day; they treat me like one of the guys. They listen to me about my struggles, have my back when I need it and make me feel safe and secure when I’m around them. My family and fiancée have loved me through everything – they are my biggest fans and would do anything in the world for me. I am lucky to have such a wonderful support system. That being said, putting myself out there for the entire world to judge, is a totally, TOTALLY different thing.
I still am in a lot of ways. Some days I feel on top of the world, like no one can bring me down, like I’m the coolest person on the planet that knows all these secrets because i’ve lived such a unique life. Other days I can’t even get out of bed. I’m so insecure and feel like I can’t even begin to compete with the men in the music scene. Why can’t I have Awsten Knight’s jawline? Why aren’t I as tall as John O’Callahan? Why can’t I grow a beard like Alex Gaskarth? Will people still like me if I can’t compete with how attractive these men can be? Will fans even want posters of me on their wall? Will agents and record labels think I’m not capable of being as successful? Whew.
I spent a while deciding if I wanted to keep my trans identity to myself or be open about it. It felt safer to hide, to just blend in as one of the boys. That’s the easy and safe way. But then I thought about my 14 year-old self. Damn. That kid would need you, Tate. Stand up and be strong. Be brave. Do it for the kids out there that are scared and alone just like you were. They need someone to tell them it’s going to be okay. They need to know that they can do anything they put their mind to. They need to know they can be trans and still be successful. There is a place for them in the world.
That’s heavy and I can’t do it alone, but I’ll certainly start. I meet young trans boys and girls all the time, who are so talented yet afraid to pursue a music career because of who they are. Why is that? Why does our music scene make them feel that way? What are we doing wrong? It’s time for a change. It is time to sign more trans artists and to bring more trans artists on tour, to put more trans artists on festivals. We don’t only belong on LGBTQA+ platforms and in LGBTQA+ spaces. We belong everywhere. We deserve to be ingrained into the normalcy of the industry.
There are SO MANY of us.
Don’t say we don’t exist, because we exist. Don’t say we aren’t as skilled, because we are. Don’t say we don’t belong, because we do. We are human beings. You are around us every day and don’t even realize. If I wasn’t writing this right now, you reading this, wouldn’t know I am trans.
I want our fans to know they are safe with us. You can be whoever you want to be and we will love and support you. I am challenging all other bands and artists to do the same. I am challenging all other labels, agents, managers and press to do the same. I know in my heart that most people mean well and they have open minds with open hearts. I’m asking you to be louder. I’m asking you to make sure that the fan in the back who may need it the most can hear you. They are listening and they are waiting.
Ask a trans person how you can help support them today.
Thank you to everyone who supports me and accepts me.
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📸 © Katy Waller
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