German pop star Kim Petras, who is transgender, gave an emotional speech on Sunday evening accepting her first Grammy Award and dedicating her win to trans artists who came before her.
“I want to thank all the incredible transgender legends who kicked these doors open for me to be here tonight,” said Petras.
She then gave an emotional shoutout to her friend Sophie, a Scottish singer who died in 2021 after an accidental fall.
“Thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie,” she said. “I adore you, and your inspiration will forever be in my music.”
Along with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sam Smith, Petras won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for the song “Unholy.”
“Sam was eager for me to receive this award because I am the first transgender woman to win this award,” Petras said during her acceptance speech.
Smith also made history with the win, becoming the first non-binary artist to take home the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award.
“Unholy” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October and topped the Billboard Global 200 chart for four weeks last year, according to entertainment magazine Billboard.
In her speech, Petras also thanked pop icon Madonna for being a candid and early advocate of LGBTQ equality.
“I don’t think I could be here without Madonna,” Petras said.
She also dedicated her victory to her mother and thanked her for supporting Petras’ transition.
“I grew up next to a highway in nowhere in Germany, and my mother believed me to be a girl. I wouldn’t be here without her and her support,” she said.
Petras, 30, first rose to international stardom in the early 2000s when she appeared on German airwaves in an attempt to get permission for gender-affirming surgery. After grueling rounds of psychiatric evaluation, she received government approval and underwent the surgery at age 16. At the time, she was believed to be the youngest trans person in the world to undergo the procedure, which is rarely performed on minors.
Amid the international media attention, Petras began posting videos of herself singing on YouTube in the years following her transition.
Petras released her international debut single “I Don’t Want It at All” in 2017 and she has since released two studio albums. The pop star made history last year as the first trans artist to headline NYC Pride’s Pride Island music festival.
The associated press contributed.