Featuring Nicolle Maroulis of Hit Like A Girl and No More Dysphoria | By Kelley O’Death
Shining a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA community and the world of alternative music…
New Jersey singer-songwriter Nicolle Maroulis is better known as Hit Like A Girl, a moniker the non-binary artist hopes will “inspire and empower people to embrace their femininity.” The band’s debut full-length, You Make Sense, was self-released on Sept. 16 and features eight emotionally raw—but undeniably catchy—tracks about finding and losing love. Though its songs are intimately personal, Maroulis hopes they will embolden listeners to put a positive spin on their own trials and tribulations, be brave enough to embark on their own projects, and ultimately, find happiness and fulfillment.
On top of being a visible and outspoken queer member of the music community, Maroulis is also the founder of a nonprofit organization called No More Dysphoria, which seeks to aid transgender and non-binary individuals in paying for major aspects of their transitions. Visit NoMoreDysphoria.com to learn more and contribute to the cause!
I currently identify as a non-binary genderqueer person. When I was younger, I would wake up some mornings and truly feel like I was a man, and some other mornings, would wake up feeling feminine. I grew up with two brothers and even played football on my town’s junior league in the fourth grade. My parents just considered me a tomboy. Thinking about it now, it’s funny how older generations can accept the term “tomboy,” but can’t wrap their heads around “non-binary.”
I remember feeling confused about my gender identity growing up. I hated wearing dresses, hated the fact that my mom tried to drown me in pink, and was jealous that my brothers got to wear blue and got footballs for their birthdays. I figured, since I truly felt like a boy, that I had to be a boy and considered myself to be transgender. I researched stories from female-to-male trans folk on various blogs and started thinking about my own transition. I stole an ace bandage from the local pharmacy and started binding my chest, [which can cause serious physical harm]. I remember someone saying to me, “Wow, Nicolle, you lost some weight!”—little did they know. I started to live my life as male and was too ashamed to tell anyone.
Then, there would be certain occasions when I’d see my classmates around me wearing really cute dresses and feminine outfits to school. I noticed how all the boys swooned over them, but they only wanted to play sports with me. I started to feel ugly and, also, guilty for thinking about giving up my male lifestyle. I was always under the impression that there were only two sides of the gender scale: male or female—never both.
When I first started to hear the terms “non-binary,” “gender fluid,” “genderqueer,” and “gender nonconforming,” it really brought on a lot of clarity and definition for me. That’s when I truly understood who I was and why I was. The idea that there could only be two specific genders never sat well with me, and I was so excited to learn that half the world felt the same way!
On Showing Support:
I currently use they/them pronouns. I think pronouns are a really simple yet important first step toward being a true ally. I don’t like to assume a person’s gender upon first meeting them, so everyone is they/them to me at first until I can observe other pronouns used in regard to that person. I once met someone at a show who was running around asking everyone what their preferred pronouns were, and I thought that was awesome.
It’s really refreshing to me to see a lot of young people become more comfortable with their gender identity and sexuality. I love seeing gender roles and norms constantly being challenged. I meet so many people with bushy beards and mustaches rocking a vintage dress and vibrant nail polishes, and no one gives a shit because it’s OK. If I had to conclude this in any way, I’d say that gender isn’t real, and at the end of the day, we are all just people. We are not defined by what’s inside our pants, but rather what’s inside our hearts.
One of the most important things anyone can do is to be supportive. Transgender and bi-gender people are more likely to have a positive outcome in life when they have a strong and loving support system backing them up. If anyone feels alone or confused about their gender identity and like they have no one to confide in, I want to affirm you that you are not alone.
You are valid, you are important, and you are loved. I want to take this opportunity to officially extend my ears to anyone who needs someone to talk to. I may not have all the answers, but I’m a very good listener.
I can easily be reached through my transgender nonprofit organization’s email: NoMoreDysphoria@gmail.com.
On Scene Unity:
The music community, for me, has always been my safe space. It’s always been my place to run away to. On a Friday or Saturday night, I’d much rather be at a basement punk show than the clubs or whatever.
What’s amazing to me is how similar every other state’s music communities are compared to one another. Sure, every state has their little things that make them stand out, but at the end of the day, everyone shares the same moral compass, if you will. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, shitty people in the music scene are slowly being pushed out, making shows a more comfortable environment for anyone who wishes to be a part of it. I can play a show or attend one in a place I’ve never been to and feel just as comfortable as I would in my own backyard. I can strike up a conversation with a stranger about literally anything not pertaining to music, and they’ll “get me,” because we share that same base love for the music.
This is just my opinion, but unfortunately, it seems like the music community has slowly, over time, started to turn into a popularity contest. I’ve noticed recently that it’s getting harder and harder for new bands, artists, and promoters to find their footing in the scene. I attended a show recently on a Saturday night that was promoted just as much as most shows in my town are; all the artists who played were extremely talented, but unfortunately, not very many people showed up. I couldn’t help but think that if the more “popular people” promoted or even played the show, more people would have come out. Of course, this could have been for a number of reasons—like other shows happening the same night, people being busy, etc.—but it was still discouraging.
I feel like the same goes with trying to book DIY tours. If my name isn’t well recognized due to my lack of “internet cred,” [even if] my music is really good, I find it hard to even simply get a response from out-of-state promoters. Again, I’m aware that this could be due to 100 other things—like the promoter is busy or simply can’t do it, and I understand that. I just wish music was about the music, not about how many people “liked” my Facebook status of a funny dog meme.
I’m never going to stop being a part of music, playing music, or attending shows. I’m still going to be the best that I can be and include everyone who wants to come along for the ride. That’s what music is all about to me: sharing that same passion across all spectrums. We share the same common ground.