“People mistake femininity in AMAB people as homosexuality, and I think people calling me gay and f*ggot from a very early age made me feel like that was my identity but it never really was.”
Portrayal of trans women in the media is lacking and sub par at best, this lack of representation and therefore understanding leads to many misconceptions about trans folks in general but trans women specifically. DJ Ariel Zetina is trans woman, while she has known since a young age who she is, she felt societal pressures and boxed in.
“I have known I was a woman since I was four years old but, because society never told me that paradigm was open it didn’t seem like a possibility for me,” she said. “People mistake femininity in AMAB people as homosexuality, and I think people calling me gay and f*ggot from a very early age made me feel like that was my identity but it never really was.”
The Chicago-based artist’s dark techno beats, while toe-tapping and danceable are undertoned by her openness, she feels that people will always view her music from distinct perspectives.
“Because of my identity, people view my music from a certain angle whether I like it or not,” added Zetina. “So it definitely affects my music, but at the end of the day, I’m just making music.”
Her music and herself have many connections, these allow her to interact and relate to fans from a variety of backgrounds.
“I find if people have multiple intersections of my identity they do tend to connect to it more because of the ‘expressing something not able to by words’,” she said.
Zetina describes her sound as techno with a “little bit of Rihanna,” someone she hopes to one day produce for. However, she has a wide range of influences for her [musical qualifier], including MHYSA, scraaatch, LSDXOXO and her Chicago peers like Itsi, Miss Twink USA and MORENXXX.
“But in all serious I aim to make dance music that’s equally inspired by classic American dance styles like house and techno and also Belizean dance styles like punta and brukdown,” she said.
Her start in dance music stemmed from being unable to express her experiences with words.
“My main practice used to be writing, but coming out as trans made words too painful. I turned to instrumental music because I could access emotion not able to be translated by words,” said Zetina. “I have returned to using text in my practice, but this ability that music has to express the unexpressable [sic] is why I keep doing it.”
For transgender individuals, being authentically themself is politicized, commented on and can be dangerous at times. However, the LGBTQ community is where its at today due to trans women, notably Marsha P. Johnson — something Zetina carries with her.
“My identity means that I fight for the rights of trans women of color with 100% of my energy,” she said.