Teddy Geiger’s eyelids flutter as she repeats the phrase, “My mom makes marvelous meals.” Here at a Vietnamese restaurant in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, she’s deep inside herself, attempting to decipher which octave feels most comfy, most true to who she is. After hovering in a helium-high vary, she lets her voice drop right into a decrease, however nonetheless fem, register.
“If I let it settle right here, this feels fairly pure,” she decides, taking a protracted sip of her iced tea. Constantly monitoring the femininity of her voice, she notes, is “an actual ache within the ass.”
Geiger, who was marketed as a teen heartthrob within the mid-2000s, presents in a different way as of late. It has been a little bit over a yr since she revealed to her followers that she was transgender, which she introduced with a publish on Instagram. She did so whereas co-writing chart-topping hits with Shawn Mendes, together with “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” and “In My Blood,” in addition to touchdown placements on the Billboard Hot 100 for One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Seemingly in a single day, the 30-year-old artist could have grow to be probably the most influential individual in music manufacturing who additionally occurs to be overtly trans. But she’s nonetheless attempting to determine what precisely which means. “When folks inform me that, I really feel like Cuba [Gooding Jr.]’s character in Jerry Maguire, who says, ‘I simply need to play soccer!’ I’m like, ‘I simply need to make songs!’”
On Nov. 9, Geiger will launch LillyAnna, an album named after a pseudonym she used on the web throughout her teenage years. It’s her third album and first as an out transgender lady -- an eclectic, experimental pop report that explores subjects like cults and utilizing medicine to discover a extra genuine self. She started recording the album earlier than transitioning, however Geiger continues to be hesitant to ascribe the sound to a selected way of thinking -- it was extra like a “cloudy” feeling, she says, of being near understanding what she wanted to do for herself to really feel at dwelling in her physique, however undecided how she would get there. “It appears like a lifetime in the past,” she says now.
Geiger explains that the timing appeared proper, significantly in an period when popular culture’s thought of gender id and expression is evolving. She has lengthy wrestled together with her personal gender id. Before changing into a behind-the-scenes hitmaker, she was packaged as a teenage intercourse image. Her 2006 debut, Underage Thinking, reached No. eight on the Billboard 200, and she or he dabbled in appearing with a supporting function within the 2008 movie The Rocker. But fame was a straitjacket. Geiger chafed at carrying Ed Hardy and different boys’ garments that she discovered ugly, in addition to the expectation that she would preserve a healthful picture.
“It made me have a look at myself from the surface in, if that is smart,” she recollects. “That picture of who I used to be publicly was so solidified. You’re that individual. And it wasn’t even near a real illustration of the place I used to be in my life.”
Meanwhile, her physique was altering -- a course of she “wasn’t loving.” (In her youthful years, Geiger would generally be mistaken for a woman at sleepovers.) As she started courting, she discovered it even more durable to be her genuine self. Whenever she had a brand new girlfriend, she was at all times conscious about that one drawer with all of her most comfy, female clothes, and what would possibly occur if it was found.
It took till very not too long ago for Geiger to seek out the arrogance to share her true id with household and pals, and even main as much as LillyAnna she was being handled for anxiousness. “I used to be actually scared at first,” she says. “I stored issues obscure, like, ‘So, I’ve been interested by... if perhaps sometime... I might... transition.’ But as quickly as I noticed how supportive everybody was, I used to be like, ‘Yeah, let’s do that as quickly as doable, please, thanks.’”
Falling in love with Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire helped nudge the door open additional. (They introduced their relationship in an Instagram publish in August.) Still, says Geiger, id is a “bizarre” factor, significantly when you need to always meet with medical doctors to actualize your gender, or practice your vocal chords to relaxation effortlessly in your preferrred octave. Above all, it’s troublesome to be confronted, time and again, by the gulf between the self you need to mission and the one you assume you’re at present projecting.
“I noticed the opposite day, like, ‘Shoot, I’ve been working tremendous arduous on transitioning,’” she says. “Which is nice, however I’m additionally excited for a day when it’s not one thing that I've to actively take into consideration.” Geiger is optimistic about taking up this course of in public, and as we speak, feels a spark of hope: “There’s simply a lot extra freedom now.”
This article initially appeared within the Nov. three subject of Billboard.