Music Clubhouse: A Safe Space for Transgender Teen

“The me that had existed when I first started would never be able to even get on the stage.”

When Emmett first came to the Music Clubhouse, he was Elizabeth. Having faced a lot of bullying in school and elsewhere, Elizabeth was feeling defeated and isolated. At the very beginning, being at the Music Clubhouse didn’t feel any different.

But then, Elizabeth’s mentor and Music Director used music to connect with her. A shared love of rock music (even amidst mostly hip-hop at the Club) helped Elizabeth feel like she belonged. The Music Director encouraged Elizabeth to do a karaoke cover of her favorite band, “Panic! at the Disco.” Elizabeth’s peers loved it! After that, the other teens frequently requested that she perform karaoke songs because of her vocal talent.

Elizabeth’s confidence soared. She finally felt like she was being treated as an equal, a peer. It was then that she courageously came out as transgender. Almost immediately, Elizabeth adopted the name Emmett. Emmett confidently changed his image and the way he carried himself. Emmett was finally the person he had always wanted to be.

“Bonding musically with other participants provided Emmett a place in which he was accepted as Emmett, rather than being belittled and rejected,” says his Music Director.

Emmett’s musical and personal journey still had its rough patches. When he decided to to perform at the Club’s annual fashion show, he heard himself on a practice recording and was so overwhelmed that he almost quit.

But after picking a new song and rehearsing for many hours, Emmett was not only excited for the Fashion Show, but he even enjoyed hearing himself sing. Emmett was ready to perform on stage. The performance was a huge success, and Emmett actually went as far as asking the crowd to sing along responsively. “That is a huge risk to take as a performer, with a chance that the crowd is unresponsive,” says his Music Director.

The risk was worth taking. The crowd was extremely supportive and sang along. Emmett’s family members, who were in the audience, were ecstatic and proud. And Emmett was awarded one of the leadership achievement awards for being the “Teen Breakout Star” of the year.

Most importantly, Emmett was proud of himself.

“At the fashion show that the Club held, I asked to audience to sing back during my performance and they actually did!” says Emmett. “The me that had existed when I first started would never be able to even get on the stage. But now, I’ve become more confident. So, I guess what I’m saying is that you should always be yourself and try your hardest to forget your worries. Just never give up. Okay?”