Culture Feature

On Transgender Day of Visibility: 5 Iconic Trans Men From History

Trans men have always been here — even before they were allowed to be visible.

Philanthropist Reed Erickson

March 31st is known as Transgender Day of Visibility.

First marked in 2009, it's an occasion for raising awareness of Transgender people living their lives.

Of course, with all the debate around whether trans women should be forced to use mens bathrooms (they shouldn't...), and whether they should be allowed to compete in women's sports (as if conservatives have ever cared about women's sports...) awareness of trans women has never been higher. But there is another group of trans people that our culture tends to forget: trans men.

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New Releases

Celebrate Trans Day of Visibility with Benjamin Scheuer's "I Am Samantha"

Scheuer met Samantha Williams at a coffee shop in NYC and decided to write a song about her.

Noa Griffel

It's International Trans Day of Visibility, a day meant to celebrate trans and gender-nonconforming people.

Transphobia still runs rampant in America and across the world, and trans people face death and erasure at extreme rates. Visibility, therefore, can be a radical act and a joyful celebration.

That's the motivation behind "I Am Samantha," a charming and euphoric new single released by songwriter and playwright Benjamin Scheuer. It tells the story of Samantha, a trans woman who Scheuer met in a coffee shop in NYC. He decided to write a song about her, and today it's been released along with a heart-warming, tear-jerking video that stars 27 trans actors. It's about unity and solidarity, a heartwarming message for these times and always.

Benjamin Scheuer - I Am Samantha [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

The release was accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video from Allison Glock-Cooper in partnership with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), GLAAD, Trans Lifeline and The Ally Coalition.

Samantha explained the story of the song and video in her own words. "He's a customer at the West Village coffee shop where I work, a fellow artist (I'm a writer; he's a musician) who attended a reading of one of my screenplays and gave truly helpful notes," Samantha said of Benjamin. She described him as "a tall guy with a boyish face and steampunk style, with cherry-dyed hair, elaborate boots and epaulets, and yet announcing his presence most resoundingly with his seemingly ever-present smile and earnest, enthusiastic greetings."

Soon after the two met, Samantha complained to him that she didn't know any popular songs that use the name Samantha, which was the name she had taken a year prior. Her relationship with the name goes way back, though. "'Samantha' had been the only name my parents could agree on prior to my birth, not yet knowing what was between my legs—which would ultimately lead to a name I went by for decades before all but erasing it from identifying documents (Ohio being one of four states that don't allow changes to one's birth certificate)," she added.

Inspired by Samantha's story, Benjamin set about writing and recording a song for Samantha. "Benjamin and those involved in every aspect of the recording, producing and upcoming release of 'I Am Samantha' have each endeavored to understand and do right by the story of my transition from [dead name] to the fully realized, confident person I am today," she said. "Each of them I've had the pleasure of meeting is just as evidently excited as I am to share this song, this story of struggle and self-discovery, with the world—so that it might do what art uniquely can, which is to increase empathy by revealing the world through someone else's eyes, while also, I can attest, making some of us feel just a little less lonely."

Benjamin Scheuer - I Am Samantha [Behind The Scenes] www.youtube.com

Follow Benjamin Scheuer on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and his website.