TCLA: The Trans Chorus That’s Music to Our Ears

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“Our trans voices need to be heard,” reads the official statement of TCLA.

For the trans community, spaces to connect with other trans people are crucial. When those spaces involve creating art and music, the rewards are even greater. The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles understands this and uses this as its biggest draw.

TCLA is a 30-member music collective made up entirely of trans voices. In late November, the group performed at the West Hollywood Library to celebrate the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Yahoo Beauty covered the event and pinpointed a performance of “Names” as the event’s highlight. The song was originally composed for the AIDS Memorial Quilt Initiative. However, TCLA adapted the song to their cause and added in the names of transgender men and women who’d been killed in the U.S. throughout 2016.

Director Lindsey Deaton is a Julliard and Carnegie Mellon-trained musician who made a splash as a choral director in Cincinnati. After her transition, she lost her job and found a home in TCLA.

The chorus started as more of a community organization; a voice for all trans people who wanted to help communicate the message of power, anger and emotion. But soon, the chorus grew into a sought-after group. Now, members are only accepted through audition.

Deaton told Yahoo Beauty, “We are a global voice now with global accountability, and as we strive for excellence, I want to assure that we’re giving our best.” Indeed, the chorus is the biggest trans singing group in the world.

Recognizing its impact, the group wants to give trans people a safe place to express themselves. It’s an LGBTQ-affirming chorus that strives for excellence while maintaining a mission of acceptance.

Officially sponsored by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, TCLA is a beacon of hope for the trans community. According to GMCLA’s official website, “The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles will save lives.” It’s a “loving, affirming and compassionate community that builds trust, hope and gives voice to people who live in fear”.

Deaton’s biggest job in TCLA is helping trans women adjust to their voices and use them as a powerful tool. After a transition, she recognizes how a woman’s voice might register an octave or two lower than cisgender women. She works with her singers to move past the disappointment and become the best vocalists they can be.

The group gathers Sundays for three-hour rehearsals at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church. For those who are interested in joining the chorus, hopefuls are encouraged to fill out a contact form on GMCLA’s official website. If you can’t sing, you can still help by donating. TCLA was just founded in 2015 and is still getting its movement in motion. Its most recent fundraiser was February’s TCLA House Party.

The group also hosts mixers in addition to its performances-a testament to the goal of building community.

On tap, TCLA will perform David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust as an opera in April. It’s clear that 2017 will be another record year in the chorus’ rise to prominence.

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