Who We Are

Trans Voices Festival Steering Committee


Charlie Hersman (he/him) I’ve been singing for audiences since I was 5 years old. I grew up listening to people sing words I wasn’t allowed to say; words about personal strength, about finding yourself, about being true to who you are. I sing to myself to allow myself to express feelings of joy, or anger, or sorrow when I don’t always realize I need to feel it. I sing to others and with others to give freedom to those who still can’t speak. With a group I can say the words that are sometimes so hard to say alone. I sang with Transpose Community Choir for a year, and have been singing with Acchord since its foundation in 2017. I’ve sung with Portland Gay Men’s Chorus for the past three years.

Why I Chose to be Part of this Festival:

I believe that hate is rooted in fear, and fear is caused by the unknown. Educating allies is important in normalizing transgender voices. As a lifelong singer, the challenges and dysphoria that are common with singers in the community are not always understood. I spent long hours researching what happens to voices that undergo medical transition through testosterone. My voice is key to my identity. Being able to talk to other people who had also taken testosterone and having them tell me it would be okay gave me the courage to move forward. I’m excited to help provide a platform where we can all learn more and be united in our love of music. We all have our unique challenges. Something that might not be challenging to me could be a huge barrier to someone else. I want to hear everyone’s stories and take what I learn from this festival to make all spaces more inclusive.


Kimber

Kimber Sieffert (they/them) has made Portland their home for the past 7.5 years after moving to Oregon from Dickinson, ND to enhance their career. They truly love living in the Pacific NW! Besides their professional experience, Kimber’s love for choral singing began in middle school. They joined the Portland Lesbian Choir soon after moving to Portland where they sang as Alto for four years and served as Treasurer for three years. Kimber then sang with the Transpose Choir for one year and has held the Treasurer position for Transpose PDX for two years. Kimber also serves as President/Board Director for Portland Chamber Music and has an extensive career as a Social Worker serving vulnerable populations in both the Midwest and Northwest regions.  Kimber brings to the Trans Voices Festival an extensive history working within the non-profit sector and along with that, brings both their musical background and education to help create a festival that is educational and enjoyable.

Why I Chose to be Part of this Festival:

I attended the 2018 Trans Voices Festival in Minneapolis, MN and the 2016 GALA Festival in Denver, CO. Both of these events provided me with so much inspiration and I developed lifelong friendships with some very wonderful people. Music is essential for our mental health and has provided me with a wonderful stress release while also giving me an opportunity to meet folks who have many of the same goals and aspirations that I attain to. I’m both excited and honored to be a part of the Portland Oregon Trans Voices Festival and I’m looking forward to getting to know so many beautiful talented people on this journey.


Landon Shimek (he/him) began playing piano and guitar at age eight. He sang with the the Seattle Men’s Chorus for two years before moving to the Portland area and finding a new voice with the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. After singing with PGMC for a few years, Landon helped start Transpose PDX, which then lead Landon to spearhead a new chorus for people who identify as Queer; thus was born the Northwest Queer Chorus (NWQC). Landon is known for his easy going personality and his love for people and his Queer community. As a trans man, Landon’s vision is to use musical excellence as a platform for positive interactions between Queer and non-Queer identified communities. 

Why I Chose to be Part of this Festival:

I chose to be apart of this festival because as a trans man myself, I wish I had something like this growing up. I want to leave the world a better place. This is my way of giving back to my Queer/trans community. As trans people we are deserving!


Marybeth Sanford grew up in a family that loved music. Her mother played piano while both she and her brother played violin.  They had season tickets at the Portland Opera and a favorite memory is singing with her Mother while she played piano.  They performed “Johnny One-note” and “My funny Valentine” by heart!

As Marybeth got older she started singing with church choirs. Bob Mensel (former Artistic Director of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus) was the choir director at her church, which led to her learning about PGMC. Then her daughter Alex joined PGMC and one thing led to another. Marybeth started volunteering for PGMC, got encouraged to join PLC and from there she learned about the Trans Voices Festival and here we are!

Why I Chose to be Part of this Festival:

My eldest daughter is transgender. I remember when she finally told me that she was trans. She was so scared, so worried that she would be murdered. There is nothing worse for a mother than hearing your child weeping on the floor convinced that someone is going to kill her.  My youngest daughter Kylie saved that evening by being so excited that she now had an older sister!

I am here to bring visibility and normalization to transgender artists.  We hate what we don’t understand. This festival is a chance to bring an  understanding of people who are transgender.

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