Too Attached Show Realities of the Trans Experience On “Love Is Not Love”
To honour Trans Day of Remembrance and Resilience, the Canadian pop group confronts how language can erase communities.
Photo by Yannick Anton
Support is, fundamentally, what people need and what they deserve. But, unfortunately, support is often cherry-picked; positioning one cause or group of people above another occurs more often than when it does not. The language of support, too, can sometimes feel too exclusive. Canadian pop duo Too Attached tackle this in their newest single “Love Is Not Love.” In honour of Trans Day of Remembrance and Resilience, their song confronts the phrase “love is love,” which is used as a means of encouragement for gay rights by those in the community and allies.
“So often love has been used by the gay rights movement and allies to earn acceptance at the cost of queer sex and desire,” says Vivek Shraya, one half of Too Attached. ”Many people are happy to declare ‘love is love,’ but don’t want to ever see two men kiss in public. More specifically, ‘love is love’ also erases the violence experienced by trans people. My safety is less tied to who I love and more about the ways my gender presentation makes people uncomfortable. I am less likely to incur violence when I am with my white boyfriend than when I am alone in public wearing makeup.” She continues, saying that allies may feel comfortable putting a rainbow flag in their establishment but “ would not feel comfortable sharing a washroom with trans and gender-nonconforming people.”
Too Attached is comprised of Shraya and Shamik Bilgi, siblings who released their last record, Bronze, in 2015. On “Love Is Not Love,” they created an anthemic, at times chilling, song. It features a choir comprised of some of the Canada’s most talented Black women and women of colour such as TiKA, Lido Pimentia, Jenny and Casey Mecija of Ohbijou, Alanna Stuart of Bonjay, Ansley Simpson, and Kamilah Apong. The synths, foreboding and urgent, and the lyrics show us the difficult realities transgender people face daily: that survival is indeed a vital issue. Occurring near the song’s end, Shraya sings “If I disappear/come find, come find me.” It’s simplistic and straightforward in its composition and a deeply heavy strike to the heart to hear. Of that line, Shraya says: “This year alone, over two dozen trans people in the US have been killed. Every time I open my feed and see the report of another trans murder, I feel a deep mourning for the individual and their loved ones. I also feel ill thinking about trans people everywhere who are seeing this news and reminded of the tangible hate that is felt for us.”
Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience began almost 20 years as a vigil by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith for Rita Hester, a trans woman who died in 1998. Since then, a full week in November is dedicated as Transgender Awareness Week, giving visibility to the work and lives of those in trans communities.
“Our hope of releasing it on Trans Day of Remembrance and Resilience is to bring light to the ways that language, even “positive” slogans, erases trans people throughout the year,” says Shraya.