31 Days 31 Trans Voices | Day 14: Shea Diamond, I Am Her

ShaGasyia “Shea” Diamond is an American singer, songwriter, and transgender rights activist. Her music is raw soul and R&B, with elements of blues, rock, hip-hop and folk; and soul-rooted of resistance and liberation.

As early as transgender singer Shea Diamond can remember, she identified as a girl – and was punished for it. “I got whoopings for walking like a girl, for using the restroom sitting down like a girl,” says Diamond today. “Even singing when I was little, I remember being corrected. ‘Put some bass in your voice.’ It was like robbing me of the only joy I had in this world.”

She was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and spent portions of her upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee and Flint, Michigan. Diamond was inspired to become a singer by Tina Turner. She polished her vocal skills singing in the church choir. As a black transgender woman, she faced many obstacles and expectations.

“As early as I can remember, I always identified as being a girl. It was hard work to pretend to be a gender that you’re not,” Diamond said. ” Growing up trans takes a lot of guts.”

Shea Diamond

Repressed and marginalized throughout her childhood for not accepting her gender role, she ran away at the age of 14 and entered foster care. At age 20, desperate to pay for her gender reassignment surgery, she robbed a convenience store at gunpoint and spent roughly a decade in prison. Diamond developed her powerful singing style and found her voice as a songwriter while imprisoned at various men’s correctional facilities in Michigan from 1999 until 2009.

Diamond was released from prison in 2009 and relocated to New York, where she lives today, and continued to work on her music. She became intensely committed to transgender activism. When songwriter-to-the-stars Justin Tranter was impressed by a video of Diamond singing her trans anthem “I Am Her,” a gut-bucket blues-soul anthem for outsiders, a cappella at a Trans Lives Matter event he reached out with a record deal with the Warner-distributed Asylum Records.

Diamond’s single “Don’t Shoot” was co-written by Diamond with Tranter and Brandon Colbein and is dedicated to the memory of victims of gun violence – especially trans people of color.

Diamond will collaborate in 2020 with Justin Tranter on a song for the highly anticipated Mama Gloria documentary by award-winning writer, director, and producer Luchina Fisher.

Fans can follow Shea Diamond on twitter @iamsheadiamond and Instagram @iamsheadiamond.

To book Shea Diamond to perform at your event, send serious inquiries to Sheadiamondinfo@gmail.com.

Terry Willits

Trans Speak's Editor-in-Chief is an international mixed media artist, writer, LGBTQ advocate, coffee snob, dog dad, and FTM transgender - but not necessarily in that order, who practices what he posts. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; he now does the writing thing from St. Louis, Missouri. You should check out his work - it's recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend stuff.

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