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Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s powerful track about trans people receives both praise and criticism

The rapper discussed how the journey of his trans relatives changed his own views about trans people.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Recording artist Kendrick Lamar performs onstage during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)
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Trigger warning: This song contains themes of transphobia that some readers may find distressing.

The rapper Kendrick Lamar has released a powerful song about accepting his transgender relatives. Lamar's "Aunti Diaries" comes at a time when some state governments are targeting LGBTQ youth across the country. There have been at least 200 anti-LGBTQ bills sponsored or considered across America. Lamar dropped his album "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers" on Friday, which includes the track where he raps about accepting his relative who is a transgender man. "My auntie is a man now / I think I’m old enough to understand now," raps Lamar about accepting the relative, reported NBC News. Many welcomed the track but some LGBTQ artists criticized Lamar for misgendering the trans man. It appears that Lamar has reached a point where he understands his relative's transition and accepts him for who he is.

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NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Recording artist Kendrick Lamar performs onstage at the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

 

 

Lamar also talks about a cousin who is a trans woman and raps about the homophobia and transphobia his relatives faced. Both his trans relatives are portrayed as two beloved figures in his life. He says they were targeted with homophobic slurs and talks about his journey to accepting his relatives who had transitioned. "We ain’t know no better / Elementary kids with no filter, however." In another verse, he says he's proud of his relatives who transitioned. "My auntie became a man and I took pride in it." He also talks about how his trans relative used to pick him up from school and was scorned and stared at by Lamar's friends. "They couldn’t comprehend what I grew accustomed," he raps. He talked about using homophobic slurs because he wasn't aware of the damage it caused. "I said them f-bombs, I ain't know any better," he said while also referencing an incident at a concert when a fan used the N-word on stage while rapping.

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He also discusses his family's discrimination against his uncle. "Asked my momma why my uncles don’t like him that much. And at the parties why they always wanna fight him that much. She said 'Ain’t no telling' N—-s always been jealous because he had more women. More money and more attention made more envy, Calling him anything but broke was less offending.” He questions religion and the role of religious leaders in the context of a pastor not supporting his cousin's transition. "I said 'Mr. Preacher man, should we love thy neighbor? / The laws of the land or the heart, what’s greater?'" he raps.

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NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 28: Recording artist Kendrick Lamar (C) performs onstage during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

 

 

Lamar also talks about standing up for his cousin and how it changed his own beliefs and views on religion. "The day I chose humanity over religion / The family got closer, it was all forgiven," he rapped.

Variety music critic Jem Aswad lauded the track as a "powerful, genre-shifting statement on transphobia" and a reflection of Lamar's own evolution. Aswad notes that being critical of himself is one of the hallmarks of the rapper. "One of Kendrick Lamar’s great strengths as a rapper is his ability to acknowledge and criticize his own biases and prejudices and not place himself above the people he’s singling out," they wrote.

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Preston Mitchum, director of advocacy and governmental affairs at The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ young people, spoke about the song and their reaction to it. "I'm thankful he spoke in favor of love & acceptance of trans sibs — even after admitting what society did to them first. The [slur] threw me off because it isn't his word to use. But that's his point at the end," they wrote

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If you're trans and are being subjected to abuse, or need any help, please reach out to TRANS LIFELINE at 877-330-6366.

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