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Superfruit's Mitch Grassi taught me to love my trans identity

May 16, 2018

I first saw my identity on display through singer and YouTube sensation Mitch Grassi, whose Grammy-winning music group Pentatonix and popular YouTube channel Superfruit have amassed mainstream success. Mitch has unapologetically showcased his queer identity and gender ambiguity through both gender expression and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community on social media. He has also celebrated and amplified a message of queer acceptance that allowed me to explore an identity that I didn't know could exist.

I first recognized my queer identity as a freshman in high school. At 14 years old, I identified as a bisexual girl who was incredibly afraid of what my peers and family would think of her identity. Coming out in my adolescence allowed me to grow and discover myself early. I came out as a lesbian during my senior year of high school and received nothing but support and love from my friends and family.

My coming out was reinforced by frequently watching Superfruit videos on YouTube, where Mitch and his bandmate Scott Hoying would openly discuss their queer identities. While on camera, Mitch abandoned social rules of gender expression and engaged with femininity in an empowering and inspiring way. For example, in the “Can’t Sleep Love” music video, Mitch wears a flashy, palm tree patterned suit with a different patterned crew neck shirt underneath. When I first saw this look, I audibly gasped and immediately pictured myself wearing that outfit. It was the first time I could imagine my future self wearing a suit in public without hesitation.

Superfruit performing at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, 2018. Getty Images for GLAAD.

Watching Mitch dance around in the video so confidently while wearing such a flamboyant outfit allowed the flamboyant queer kid inside of me to be celebrated. Encouraged by Mitch, I wanted to engage my masculinity without it seeming socially deviant. Mitch’s full embrace of his gender allowed me to begin that exploration.

In college, I came out as a trans man to my friends and family and received a response that was mostly positive. My university provided a supportive and accepting environment where I could thrive academically, while openly expressing my gender identity. Many people outside of the transgender community often fail to recognize that gender identity is forever evolving. My gender is never static. Although I identify as transmasculine, the expectations and stereotypes that come with the word “man” have never applied to me. I gravitate towards both masculinity and femininity at times and through various forms.

GLAAD Campus Ambassadors Leah Juliett and Owen Logios. 

My personal exploration of femininity while still asserting my trans masculinity would not have been possible without having Mitch Grassi serve as a significant role model. When Mitch sported a black button up dress with heels to the 2016 Grammy Awards, I felt I could also embody my femininity without challenging my masculinity. But after coming out as a trans man, I soon realized that everyone in my life expected me to embody traditional characteristics of masculinity.

It was hard to believe that toxic masculinity existed within the LGBTQ+ community, but nevertheless, I found myself discouraged by those who could not understand why I wanted to wear earrings and paint my nails while identifying as a transmasculine person. But seeing Mitch Grassi embrace similar aspects of femininity, like wearing a dress and heels, while still embracing aspects of masculinity, like short hair and no makeup, felt like looking into a mirror and seeing myself for the first time. Watching Mitch become a cultural music phenomenon helped me to recognize that my identity was neither wrong nor strange.

Even though these moments of admiration and inspiration happened several years ago, I still see Mitch today as a role model and advocate for myself and the transgender community. Through Mitch, I am able to express and explain my identity to those who have difficulty understanding how I embrace both masculinity and femininity at the same time. Because the world has accepted and embraced Mitch, I believe it has the capacity to accept me, as well.

I am forever grateful to Mitch Grassi for reflecting my identity when I had no words to describe who I was. I hope that I can provide similar inspiration for any individual who is struggling at the crossroad of femininity and masculinity—and remind them that they, too, can be both.

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Owen Logios is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and rising senior at UCONN studying math and statistics. Owen has worked to support The National Equality March, New York City Heritage of Pride, GLAAD, The True Colors Organization, and The March Against Revenge Porn. Owen is currently an intern for the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

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