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Kim Petras thanks 'incredible transgender legends' in Grammy speech

Petras and Sam Smith won best pop duo/group performance for their song “Unholy.”
Kim Petras and Sam Smith during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles
Kim Petras and Sam Smith during the 65th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

German pop star Kim Petras, who is transgender, gave an emotional speech Sunday night accepting her first Grammy Award, dedicating her win to trans artists who came before her.

“I want to thank all the incredible transgender legends before me who kicked these doors open for me so I could be here tonight,” Petras said.

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 graciously wanted me to accept this award because I’m the first transgender woman to win this award,” Petras said during her acceptance speech.

Smith also made history with the win, becoming the first nonbinary artist to take home the award for best pop duo/group performance.

“Unholy” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October, and it spent four weeks atop the Billboard Global 200 chart last year, according to entertainment magazine Billboard.

In her speech, Petras also thanked pop icon Madonna for being an outspoken and early supporter of LGBTQ equality.

“I don’t think I could be here without Madonna,” Petras said.

She also dedicated her win to her mother, thanking her for supporting Petras' transition.

“I grew up next to a highway in nowhere Germany, and my mother believed me that I was 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 a push for permission to have gender-affirming surgery. Following grueling rounds of psychiatric evaluation, she received approval from the government and had the surgery at age 16. At the time, she was thought to be the youngest trans person in the world to have 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 debut international 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.