She won the award with Sam Smith for their song "Unholy," which made them the first queer duo to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart.
The 2023 65th Annual Grammy Awards were historic in a lot of aspects. It was the first award ceremony where social distancing rules were not required since the pandemic. A lot of new artists took home the prestigious award for the first time. One of them is Kim Petras, the German singer-songwriter who won the best pop duo/group performance category alongside Sam Smith for their song "Unholy."
Petras is the first transwoman to ever win in this category making history during the biggest night in the music industry. She and Sam looked gorgeous when they walked the red carpet with drag artists Violet Chachki and Gottmik. As Sam and Petras walked up to accept their award, the English singer-songwriter gave the stage to Petras to have her moment. Petras said, "I'm the first transgender woman to win the award. I just want to thank all the transgender artists who kicked the door open in order for me to be here tonight," per PEOPLE.
She expressed her admiration for the avant-garde pop producer and musician Sophie, who passed away at the age of 34 in 2021. She said, "Sophie especially, my friend who passed away two years ago...thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie, I adore you, and your inspiration will always be in my music." She also went ahead to honor Madonna for fighting for the rights of LGBTQIA+ musicians in the industry. Petras shared that she wouldn't be where she is without Madonna. She also mentioned that Smith had requested her to speak during the acceptance speech because of the achievement. She said getting a Grammy for making gay club music with Sam Smith was the “best feeling in the world,” reported The Economic Times.
She gave her mother a heartfelt nod as she departed the platform and was given a warm embrace by Smith. Petras emphasized that it was her mother's early confidence in her that helped her win the coveted prize. She joked about the win in a tweet saying, "Omg I’m a tranny with a grammy." Petras becomes the first transgender artist to hold the #1 spot on the Hot 100 chart thanks to their "Unholy" duet.
The singer told PEOPLE in November 2022 that the success of their song is "a huge middle finger to all the [record] labels that were like, 'We don't know how to market you,' and to everyone who doubted me and said I couldn't achieve this because of my gender identity." She added, "Look at me now, bitches!" She further recalled, "Ten years ago, the world was very different. That's when I started going around to record labels, and a lot of f***ed up things were said to me. I was told, 'You will never make it in this industry.' I was treated very unfairly."
She persisted in her grind and independently released songs despite the criticism. Petras, whose dance-pop hit "I Don't Want It at All" originally achieved streaming fame in 2017, has amassed a fervent fan base that is largely queer and trans. Her Grammy win becomes an inspiration for all current and future trans musicians who face discrimination in the music industry.