This interview with Kay Rowan is part of a series of feature articles on trans content creators. The intention is to share and celebrate the work of other trans creators with GenderGP’s patient community.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Kay Rowan. She is a talented musician, singer, composer and actor who has been performing since she was young. She not only plays the guitar and the piano but has also learnt to play the trumpet, cornet, and many more instruments. Rowan is also a patient at GenderGP. She stated that it has been ‘amazing’ receiving hormone treatment through our services.
Kay Rowan on her gender identity
During the interview, Kay Rowan opened up about her journey with her gender identity. She was ‘performing’ for a long time. After she came out in 2021, as every queer and trans person will know, she had to come out over and over again. It is a continuous process. There is still a lack of representation and education around trans issues. Therefore, trans people are often frustratingly expected to be the ‘professors of gender studies’ when it comes to all genders.
Rowan described her journey with her gender identity as continuous. Being a trans woman is for her the ‘clearest line of best fit’ for now. It is about embracing this part of her identity which she had ignored for so long. To her, being out and identifying as trans is a ‘gesture of self-care’, to accept that you are ‘not worth breaking’.
What inspired her to create content was her general interest in music which had accompanied her since she was a child. Kay expressed how weird it was to be a performer and a trans person as the majority of her experiences performing were from before she started transitioning. Therefore, a lot of content which had already been made, she was not comfortable sharing with the world.
It was exhausting having to perform as a musician as well as a trans person. She had to constantly monitor her appearance, her walk, her vocal inflections – the list goes on. There were multiple layers of performing. While many might not have noticed, Rowan felt herself breaking on the inside.
Rowan’s connection to music
Since Kay came out and started living her life as who she is, performing musically has been so much more liberating. She was able to captivate and engage audiences without needing to worry about how she was perceived.
In addition, she also became better at her work, able to create more authentic and emotive music. Her songs have become simpler, the lyrics have become a lot more direct and less complicated. This outcome reflects her journey as a person and performer, now that she is more comfortable within herself.
“I am healthier having come out. I am being kinder to myself. I am taking care of myself because I know that it’s worth it, because there is a life ahead that can still be lived”.
Kay Rowan has a background in traditional English folk music. The genre is about telling a story. Kay adapts this aspect of her family’s music to tell a story and connect with her audience. Her main reason for performing is to enact a feeling of community and belonging to those who come to her show. She hopes that by creating a safe space, other trans and gender diverse people will feel welcomed and a little less alone. There is nothing more rewarding than people resonating with what you are saying.
Kay also goes by the stage name ‘ghost girl’. The name is a direct reference to who she was, a person who had always been present, even if ever so slightly. She combines a past version of herself and while it does not reflect who she is now, that person played a significant role in her journey – while also representing that they have now gone.
Kay Rowan’s Inspiration and Upcoming Projects
While she looks up to other content creators, such as drag king performer Indy Nile, her inspiration comes from her trans friends. They have become like family to her. Having this community also makes it easier for her to just be herself, without having to explain every single aspect of being trans. Her upcoming projects include a solo piece composed through a workshop and a debut album. She will also be performing at the Cambridge Folk Festival happening from July 27th till July 30th.
The advice Kay Rowan would give to other trans people who wish to become musicians is to simply ‘do it’. While it can be scary to be watched as a person who does not fit into a cisgender binary, being able to connect with other people on an emotional level makes it all worth it.