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Wryn's Tiny Desk Contest entry sends love and affirmation to transgender youth

"These are things that I'm personally processing: the anger, the frustration, the love," says Wryn. "And most of the time, what I'm writing about is things that are almost too big for me to talk about."
Kait De Angelis
/
Wryn
"These are things that I'm personally processing: the anger, the frustration, the love," says Wryn. "And most of the time, what I'm writing about is things that are almost too big for me to talk about."

In their 2022 Tiny Desk Contest entry, Wryn sits alone in a room with an acoustic guitar. After taking a meditative sigh, they quietly begin strumming, leading into their song, "Pushing." "Everybody's pushing up against you / And you are who you are who you are who you are / And nothing's gonna change you," they sing.

The somber serenity of their voice is reminiscent of songwriters like Angel Olsen or Julien Baker, occasionally rising to a full-bodied burst before quietly subsiding into the verses of the song. That serenity is why the judges of the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest named Wryn's performance as one of this year's standouts, and over the next few weeks Weekend Edition is highlighting some notable entries from the contest.

The song "Pushing," Wryn tells NPR's Ayesha Rascoe, was inspired by a time in their life when they were confronted with the difficulties many trans youth face when accessing health care.

"During this time, I was also helping a young trans teen in my family get the health care that they need, try to find the right doctors, the right therapists, jumping through all of the hoops," the artist says, who is also trans and nonbinary. "It's this mix of emotions — frustration with the system, even in a place like California where it's not illegal, like what's going on in so much of the rest of the country."

When asked if there's a message they want to send to trans youth in a year when they've been particularly targeted, Wryn says: "Every day, these kids are waking up and they're seeing headlines and they're seeing news and they're seeing thinkpieces about them. But they're not objects — they're people. All of these adults are saying that they shouldn't exist; that they aren't real. The main thing I want to send to them is just another voice saying, 'No, you should not be the ones to change. The world should be changing for you.'"

For Wryn, music has taught them a lot about themselves, particularly their relationship to gender. Currently working on their first full-length album, a collection of songs written in the last few years, the big topics they explore in their music are deeply personal to them.

"These are things that I'm personally processing: the anger, the frustration, the love," they say. "Most of the time, what I'm writing about is things that are almost too big for me to talk about. It's just a vehicle to release those emotions, and hopefully also connect with people and show some empathy."

You can listen to this story using the audio player at the top of this page.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento is a production assistant with Weekend Edition.