Stargazer Lily's Singer Formerly Known as Steph Hayes Shares Story of Becoming a Man

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted Sep. 28, 2011

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“It was like taking the Elvis mask off and finding a cyborg underneath,” says Hayes. “All the rock stars being manipulated by the machine, and you thought they were the rebels of the world.”

In the end, the band dropped the deal and returned to Philadelphia vowing that if they were going to be “rock ’n’ roll idiots,” they’d be their own rock ’n’ roll idiots.

On the inside of his arm, Hayes has a tattoo of the slogan “l’art pour l’art.” It means “art for art’s sake.”

“[It means that art] should be inspired, and come right from the source, and shouldn’t serve any purpose other than art,” says Hayes. “I kind of took it to heart.”

It’s a few days after Hayes’ surgery. For the first week, the two drains attached to his armpits need to be emptied regularly. He can’t raise his arms. “The experience seems a bit surreal right now,” he says. “Even though I have never wanted to have [breasts], it’s still a pretty heavy thing to lose.”

In the big picture, surgery was the easy part.

“I took some deep breaths beneath a misting oxygen mask and woke up high and bandaged. [The doctor] did all the work,” says Hayes. “The hard part for me has been the last few years.”

He gets emotional when he relays that recently, his grandpop started greeting him with a handshake instead of the traditional kiss on the cheek.

“It’s very much an honor when he does that,” says Hayes. “Because he’s acknowledging not only is it OK with him, but he can accept who I am.”

These days, Stephan’s head is clearer than it’s been in a long time.

“I used to really obsess,” says Hayes. “I stopped thinking about it so much, which is exactly why I wanted to do it.”

Now that his body and spirit are lined up, everything else is lining up, too.

“I’m just coming out of my cocoon,” says Hayes.

Now, Hayes plans to essentially rewrite his whole catalogue. He’s gigging again. Stargazer Lily is back in the studio. They’re experimenting with how to make music without becoming “a reunion band.” No one, Hayes says, is interested in reliving the past.

Then this winter, Hayes is heading to China to meet Majesta. They’ll live there until they return next summer to celebrate their wedding. In other words, Hayes is finally living out all of his big, big dreams. “I get complete anonymity, which is kind of exciting,” says Hayes. “Like, freeing.”

Uh Huh Her and the Fences + Steph Hayes & the Good Problems play Oct. 8: TLA, 334 South St. 215.922.1011.

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Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. EmmKay said... on Sep 28, 2011 at 12:11PM

“Really well done profile of a wonderful person. I am an acquaintance who has been a fan of Stephan's songwriting for years. I was really moved by this piece and the courage it took to be true who he really is. I wish him all the best.”

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2. The Grape Room said... on Sep 29, 2011 at 03:58PM

“This is a wonderful article. Steph is a long-time friend of the club and its owner, Stargazer Lily drummer, Scooter. We wish him all the best in his new life. Don't forget to come visit us, Steph!”

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3. Patrick said... on Sep 29, 2011 at 06:41PM

“Without question, Stephan is one of the most beautiful and honest people I've ever known. Sometimes simply stepping up and being yourself can be a defining act of courage and bravery. Bravo, Steph. You will always be loved and admired for who you are, and I can't wait to see the things you have yet to experience and to achieve through your eyes, your words and your music. You are truly a gift to those of us whose lives you have touched.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Sep 30, 2011 at 04:00PM

“Same issues but M to F, in Phila. Gender's the last frontier: men hated you and were dangerous physically. Women dismissive. Androgyny frightens people like nothing else.

Go for it while you can!”

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5. Joseph said... on Oct 13, 2011 at 07:37AM

“Outstanding article! I've been privileged to know Stephan and his music, and what Patrick said so well echoes my thoughts, also. Stephan is an incredible artist, and this profile provided even more depth and understanding for me.

Hopefully this link containing images from Steph and The Good Probems' great recent Theatre of the Living Arts performance will come through.”

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6. Katie B said... on Oct 28, 2011 at 12:54PM

“WOW. To realize all of the ramifications of such a change, not just as a woman to a man, but as an artist, and as an artist who knows that their mode of expression will be changed. The complexities are overwhelming. Hayes is one very brave man.

This was a beautifully written story, thank you.”

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7. Anonymous said... on May 10, 2012 at 03:17PM

“Thanks for a great story, Tara. I've known and been inspired by Stephan since high school but haven't run into him since he transitioned. Hope to see & congratulate him in person soon!”


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