'Weirdo Music for Weirdos': Trans punks Sissy Fists join Three Link Flea Market

The Sissy Fists
The Sissy Fists

Since forming on Trans Day of Visibility several years ago, trans punk trio Sissy Fists have been making an impact on the Savannah DIY music scene with their riotous live shows. Sissy Fists are Alice Vengeance (bass/vocals), Babygirl (guitar/vocals), and Ragweed (drums). In a political environment that is increasingly hostile towards LGBTQ+ people, particularly trans people, Sissy Fists have a lot to say, but try to have fun saying it.

“We believe whether we’re serious or not, we still deserve to be heard,” said Alice. “We deserve to be platformed and have our music shared with people.”

Ragweed added, “We bring a lot of levity to our music, but in our sense of humor and sense of fun we are also asking people to deal with trans joy and us having fun.”

'It is always a political act'

Much of Sissy Fists’ music can be categorized as “cowpunk,” or country punk. Sisters Babygirl and Ragweed grew up in rural Ohio, and “keep it country all the time.” Most of their songs are originals, but they throw a few creative covers into their sets.

“The 15% that are covers ain’t really covers, because everything we write is a collage of influences and everything we ripoff we bring something new to,” said Babygirl. “It’s a dialogue, not a copy.”

Activism is an important part of Sissy Fists’ mission. Babygirl cited a number of causes that the band supports, including defunding the Savannah Police Department, prison abolition, supporting employees of Savannah-Chatham County schools and bus drivers, supporting accessibility in punk music, preventing food waste and supporting poor people’s rights.

“Whoo boy, I’ve got a soap box and I’m over excited,” said Babygirl.

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The Stop Cop City and Defend the Forest movements in Atlanta are of particular importance to Sissy Fists.

“Activism and advocacy in the kind of easily legible ways, like putting on benefit shows for Defend the Forest and Stop Cop City, is really important to us individually and to how we use our platform as a band, but I wouldn’t really separate our music and performances, and even booking shows, from activism and advocacy because a lot of what our music is about, what a lot of our performance is about, is that by being Queer performers, and being in a friend group of Queer artists, making space for that and making that visible is inherently political,” said Ragweed, who identifies as gender fluid but is not a trans woman. “It’s a political act to be doing it. However explicit we make that or how we play with the label, it is always a political act.

“I describe Stop Cop City as a project of Queer self-determination. We’re also a project of Queer self-determination, and that’s both for us and our fans. It’s DIY or die, very literally.”

The Sissy Fists
The Sissy Fists

'It's not for everyone'

Alice is one of the founders of Sanitary Booking Collective, who book DIY shows in alternative spaces around the city. Having a DIY approach is essential to finding space to perform because Sissy Fists’ acceptance in the greater Savanah music community is somewhat mixed. Many of the larger booking groups have yet to put Sissy Fists on one of their bills.

“Despite not being able to work with these larger platforms, we have still come into a pretty decent amount of popularity with people that go to shows, the people who want something that’s different from what’s heavily promoted,” said Alice.

“It ain’t for everybody,” added Babygirl. “We’re weirdo music for weirdos—whether you read that as Queerdos or not. We’ve got support all over the South and, in some cases, internationally, so I think there will always be a living room that wants Sissy Fists in it.”

Alice cites the vintage clothing vendors Three Link Flea Market as strong supporters of the band, with Sissy Fists booked to play with Girlfriend From Hell and Klept at Lodge of Sorrows on May 13.

Alice continued, “The punk community has embraced us because of our counter-cultural relevance, but I think that incongruence between the fact that whether we’re serious or not we deserve to be taken seriously hasn’t really sat right with the more business-y side of the event music scene. I think that has led to an interesting mix of feeling like we’re really supported by the people who have been with us for awhile to the people just coming out to shows now, but we do have some fiercely devoted fans.”

If Lady Gaga has her “monsters” and Nikki Minaj her “Barbies,” Sissy Fists playfully refer to their fanbase as “perverts.”

According to Babygirl, the origin of Sissy Fists using the word “perv” begins with a guitar called the Georgia Perv. Sissy Fists have a song called “Georgia Perv” that is part of a trilogy of songs called “F*** Me, Kill Me.” Fans have taken to making patches and stickers with the word “perv” proudly emblazoned on them.

“We’re all a bunch of perverts, right?” said Babygirl.

Ragweed cited another source for their use of “pervert’ that came from her employment in a corporate job.

Ragweed explained, “I used to work in Human Resources and a co-worker of mine used to derisively call people ‘perverts,’ like, ‘Ugh, that guy’s such a pervert.’ She got in trouble with Human Resources for calling people pervert. That was years ago and I think it’s hilarious, so when Babygirl heard that story she was like, ‘Honestly, I love that and I’m going to start calling people pervert.’ It’s entered our vocabulary since then.”

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With aggressive attacks on transpeople and drag queens coming from right-wing politicians, groups and demonstrators, reclaiming the word “pervert” and defanging it is a powerful act for Sissy Fists.

“It’s basically relative to the person using the word,” said Alice. “Anybody can be a pervert if they deviate from the norm that is expected of the speaking party. There’s really not a lot to back up. Everyone is a pervert, basically.”

Attacks on trans women, both politically and physically, are addressed in Sissy Fists shows with the theatrical use of blood during the climax of their sets.

“There is a narrative thread about the trans panic defense that speaks to a very real issue for trans woman specifically of legally justified murder,” Alice explained. “Although I think it’s silly to do a blood gag every show, it also speaks to the very real threat that we face as trans women for simply existing.”

Sissy Fists have finally completed recording their debut album in Nashville and are planning on releasing it this summer.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Ragweed. “And it’s not for everyone. It’s weirdo music for weirdos.”

If You Go >>

What: Three Link Flea presents: Girlfriend From Hell, Klept, and Sissy Fists

When: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., May 13

Where: Lodge of Sorrows, 415 W. Boundary St.

Cost: $5

Info: graveface.square.site, Instagram @sissyfists4ever

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Savannah's trans 'cowpunks' Sissy Fists bring political activism to stage