Back when Ross “was just trying to survive,” she couldn’t focus on the piano, guitar, and acting. “Everything I enjoy now and have access to almost feels delayed. It was delayed because of my need of survival as a Black trans woman,” says the Wisconsin native. Ross grew up singing gospel, writing songs, recording, and traveling to state fairs. Picture her as a musical theater vet with 11 years under her Telfar belt — before graduating from high school. “I was almost ready to accept, okay, this is as good as it’s gonna get. The world ain’t ready for a trans actress. The world’s not ready for a trans musician.”

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