Barbados: To stop violence, first stop anti-LGBTQ music

Here’s how the anti-transgender song “Sex Change” incites violence. (Second of two articles. The first is “LGBT community targets anti-transgender song”)

Graphic for the song
Graphic for the song “Sex Change” on YouTube.

Stevia Arthur explains how the song “Sex Change” threatens violence against the LGBT community in Barbados. Arthur is one of the petitioners in the legal challenge to the Barbadian anti-sodomy law.


From the age of 4, I knew that I was different. Although I was assigned female at birth, my mother often remarks that it was a task to get me to wear or do “girl” things. I ALWAYS jumped at the chance to make my appearance more masculine, even though I didn’t know the difference between masculinity or femininity.

Fast forward 28 years and I have been harassed in Barbados by the average Joe on the street for dressing “like a man.” I have even been told that I need “some good penis” to change me. Because of my appearance I have not gotten jobs for which I was qualified, forcing me to live a life of poverty, and worrying if I would have a roof over my head. I have gone days without food so that I could save the bus fare to go to job interviews. Despite my enticing resume, I still would not be employed because, to paraphrase an HR Manager, having me be as part of their organisation would cost a company business as they would appear to support the “LGBT agenda”.

I suffered many years of depression as a result of these incidents and the fact that I was subjected to sexual abuse because of my appearance and sexual orientation.

Having this be my lived experience from childhood, I am extremely traumatized but the fact that this song [“Sex Change”] is allowed on the airwaves in Barbados and in a national government-run competition. We all know that music can incite violence. Study after study has shown this.

In Jamaica, where the anti-gay law carries “only” a maximum 10 years’ sentence, compared to Barbados, where it is life imprisonment, homophobia and homophobic attacks are at alarming levels. Research conducted by the University of the West Indies from 2012 highlighted “murder music” as a major factor in this homophobia. Stopping anti-LGBTQ music is therefore essential to preventing homophobic and transphobic attacks.

Earlier this year, a Barbadian transgender woman was attacked with a meat cleaver and despite the obvious attempt on her life police chose not to act swiftly in apprehending her assailant. In previous years, Trans women have been attacked by strangers for just being out in public, not to mention, a recent Kadooment Day when a member of the LGBTQ community was pelted with large stones.

“It’s an insult to GOD to say that HE made you INCORRECTLY. You ARE whatever sex GOD designed you to be. Anything else is MADNESS!” 

This is the tagline of the music video posted on YouTube. The tagline alone sets the tone for listeners who are already anti-LGBT to feel grounded in their hate.

With violence already on the rise in Barbados, now is NOT the time to provide musical encouragement to vilify and denigrate a vulnerable community.

Persons argue that this song simply reflects what social commentary has always been. The problem with such reasoning is that this song invites persons who mask their hatred as Christianity to feel as though their bigotry has a firm ground on which to stand. The same people who show themselves to be pro violence toward the LGBT community when they post comments under any social media article that mentions the community.

Violence doesn’t stay online, though; it begins to manifest as physical violence once people feel that they can justify their actions or have the support of a nation behind them. If you think this is an exaggeration, note that in defense of this song, an emcee in the tent supporting the song, reportedly responded to the protest of a lesbian in the crowd in the following manner:

“Is there a doctor in the house? We need some ‘tryadick’ medication for this lesbian”


Every one is entitled to their opinion but when you use your platform to share an opinion that hurts people, to incite others to hate without any actual knowledge, and fuel those who already think they are entitled to dictate what is right, wrong, tolerable and/or acceptable in society, it is downright unacceptable.

This hate must not be celebrated at a national event. Recently the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an advisory opinion obligating states like Barbados to respect the right to gender identity and expression of all citizens. The government of Barbados must therefore immediately remove “Sex Change” from the Pic-O-De-Crop competition.

Related article:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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