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PERPETUAL CHANGE — Desiree Hines, Part 2

| Oct 19, 2009
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Last month’s column was Part 1 of our introduction to Ms. Desiree HInes, a classical musician from Philadelphia whose instrument of choice is pipe organ. She is also instrumental in getting the local GLBT festival known as The Traverse Arts Festival organized. This has been described as a multi-disciplinary showcase for GLBT artists and their allies.

Last month, Ms. Hines spoke regarding her background and her interest in pursuing a degree in organ performance. Because of her transgender status, she has faced a degree of discrimination that most music students will never undergo. This month, we conclude our interview with her, and she offers further insights into what she’s having to face as she continues to work towards acceptance and a career in music.

TGForum: I’m kind of interested in what life has been like for you after school. What about employment…and if you don’t mind my asking, what are you doing for a living now?

Desiree Hines: Honesty compels me to say that my career is in a state of…interesting. Still, some organists get a kick out of disclosing or talking about my being transsexual. I feel that it is an attempt to prohibit my career in organ performance from advancing. It does create a great deal of fear in me. I know how to play organ and play it well, and I love being a church musician. But, I am often afraid to send resumés out, or try to promote myself as a recitalist with a fear of rejection simply because of my identity.

I have not yet finished my degree…because of things that happened while at Pacific Lutheran Univeristy. I was not able to accept a scholarship to Chicago College of Performing Arts because I owed PLU $700 before I could get my official transcripts. I went to Chicago to try and work that up, but that job fell through. For eight months, I ended up in a homeless shelter trying to find jobs anywhere as a Music Director. One of the major factors prohibiting my advancing is the fact that I don’t have a degree. If had been able to attend CCPA, or if PLU had not dealt me the cards it did, there is no telling where I would be.

The organist Christopher Nash, a graduate of the Univeristy of South Carolina’s School of Music who outed me on a well known listserv known as PipeChat contributed quite a deal with his actions. Even recently, I learned of an organ student at Westmilnster Choir College in Princeton telling another student about my being transsexual. Why they felt the need to do so, I don’t know. In my heart, the only reason they do it is indeed to prohibit my career from advancing.

While I have had much press on my life and story, I feel the only reason I have to disclose anything is just because I never really wanted to be out. Because of my love of being a church musician, I was pretty much forced to be out for certain reasons I suppose. It’s not easy to fight it with an attorney, because of laws of separation of church and state. Who knows. Right now I manage campaigns for a friend who has a consulting business.

TGF: How old were you when you started dealing with your gender issues? What kind of reaction did you get from your family?

DH: I have dealt with gender issues since I was 4, and my family was neutral about it.

TGF: Talk a bit about the GLBT Arts Festival. What was your inspiration for this? What type of artists/performers are involved?

DH: I supposed the inspiration was from all the discrimination I endured. People generally view the arts professions as being so open minded, et cetera. But, conservative people with conservative ideals can still overshadow art for arts sake.

TGF: Overall, how was the festival received, and will it become an annual event?\

DH: It was well received and will definitely become an annual event. We hope to increase marketing support for the next year.

TGF: What do you ultimately hope to accomplish with the festival?

DH: To raise awareness of the importance of emerging artists and to raise awarreness of goings-on that particularly affect GLBT arts professionals. To create a support structure for them, and let the general public know that the idea that the arts related fields are “open minded” is usually one that is not true. Most patrons of the arts that contribute very generously to arts organizations are from conservative circles of very affulent people. So, supporting out GLBT arts professionals my be a challenge.

TGF: Do you have any recordings available? Any upcoming project?

DH: I do have recordings of a couple of tracks available. I will be accompanying the silent move Nosferatu in Philadelphia on October 30, 2009. (More information concerning this and Ms. Hines music is available through

TGF: What advice would you offer to any musician, transgender or not?

DH: It’s a lot of work to get yourself known and get out there. Take advantage of all opportunities to get your career out there, and think outside the box. Consider yourself to be an arts professional and seek out opportunities. Don’t always go the route of trying to be discovered. Sometimes, the very best musicians are those who have to slay the giant with a rock to the head. The reason so many other artists/arts professionals in visual arts, dance, theater, film, etc., are successful to some extent is because they sell themselves. I often feel that classical musicians, particularly, don’t do as much as they can to sell themselves. Present shows in fringe festivals, think of your artistry as an opportunity to make yourself an entrepreneur. Contact your regional, state, and local arts commissions. Often, these are the key to getting recognized by press and critics to get your career to the next level.

TGF: If you could say one thing to the transgender community as a whole, what would it be?

DH: Be brave!

TGF: Anything you’d like to add in closing?

DH: Thanks for the opportunity. People may contact me at [email protected] or
[email protected].


I just received this from Robert Urban, who has produced the soon-to-be-released project by Roger Mapes, who was featured here recently in August with a two part interview.

“Two of Roger Mapes’ (a.k.a. Yolanda) new songs, We Are Angels, and Freedom Rocks, that I recently arranged, producced and played on here at Urban Productions recording studio, got accepted for the official National Equality March CD compilation. When I suggested to Roger we submit them for consideration, I had no idea they would accept both of them.”

The songs are available on iTunes.

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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