Kim Petras Is 1st Trans Woman to Win Best Pop Duo/group

  • Sam Smith and Kim Petras won best pop duo/group performance for “Unholy” at the 2023 Grammys.
  • Petras delivered the acceptance speech as the first trans woman to win the high-profile award.
  • She thanked “transgender legends” who paved the way for her, as well as Madonna and her mother.

Kim Petras became the first transgender woman to win best pop duo/group performance at the 2023 Grammys. 

She won the award on Sunday night with Sam Smith, the other half of her hit song, “Unholy.” 

“Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award, because I’m the first transgender woman to win this award,” Petras said in an emotional speech.

Petras took the time in her speech to thank “transgender legends” who paved the way for her success — especially the late artist Sophie, “my friend who passed away two years ago, who told me this would happen and always believed in me.” 

Sophie died unexpectedly in 2021 at the age of 34. The visionary artist and producer, who preferred not to use gendered pronouns, is widely credited with helping to pioneer the hyper-pop genre and steer music in a more experimental and avant-garde direction, influencing stars like Charli XCX and FKA twigs. 

“Thank you so much for your inspiration Sophie, I adore you and your inspiration will forever be in my music,” Petras said onstage.

Petras also thanked Madonna “for fighting for LGBTQ rights,” as well as her mother.

“I grew up next to a highway in nowhere, Germany, and my mother believed me that I was a girl,” Petras said. “I wouldn’t be here without her and her support.”

Petras underwent gender-confirmation surgery as a teenager. Although she is arguably the most visible trans singer working today, she previously told Insider that she was “really proud” to break into the music industry without her transition at the forefront.

“In my career, I chose not to talk about being transgender in the beginning, ’cause I wanted my music to do something itself, and it did,” Petras told us in 2019.

“I feel like I’ve really proven myself as a songwriter,” she continued. “Now, I’m down to be transgender however I want and talk about it as much as I want. Because I’ve always been open about it, but now I don’t care anymore, ’cause I know I’m here because of my music.”

“Unholy” previously became the first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for both Petras and Smith, marking the first time an openly trans or nonbinary artist, respectively, has topped the chart. Best pop duo/group performance is Petras’ first Grammy and Smith’s fifth.

The 65th annual Grammy Awards are taking place live from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

The ceremony is airing on CBS, and you can find a continually updated list of winners here.

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