Born and based in Toronto.
Raised in Pico.
Lived in Mississauga.
I think it’s important to talk about transgender issues. I think my life would have been better if there was a public figure speaking about these issues when I was a child, that I could say: “Look, I am not the only one” – Lucas Silveira.
Lucas Silveira is a musician and former vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of the indie rock band The Cliks. His love of music is tied to his roots in Pico and the Azorean tradition of marching bands. Lucas is also the first transgender male lead singer to sign with a major record label, a vocal champion of trans and gender nonconforming people, and an active member of Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community.
Lucas Silveira was born in Toronto. His father immigrated from Pico island, Azores, in 1967, when he was 17 years-old to escape the military draft to fight in Angola. Some time later he met his future wife in Pico and had three children, all of whom were born in Toronto. Lucas, who was then Lilia and registered as female at birth, was the youngest. In 1977, the Silveiras moved back to Pico and settled in the small fishing village of Calheta de Nesquim, where Lucas lived between the ages of 4 and 10. Life on the island was bittersweet. Its natural beauty and the relative freedom provided by the rural outdoors was offset by the lack of modern amenities and abusive teachers in elementary school. Growing up on the island was also hard for Lucas due to his growing gender dysphoria and having no one to speak to about it or even the language to express it what he was going through. Music was the form of expression most readily available to Lucas, who started playing guitar and piano as a child. His love of music comes from his family and the Azorean tradition of marching bands. His father, brother, and sister all played in the band in Calheta do Nesquim. The family tradition carried over to Toronto, his uncle being a member of the Sagrado Coração de Jesus Marching Band.
Around 1983, the Silveiras moved back to Canada, this time settling in Mississauga. His parents found work at the Bradley’s meat processing plant, where many Portuguese immigrants worked (including Paulino Nunes‘ father) – many of them brought in by Lucas’ father once he became a foreman. Many of Lucas’ large extended family lived in Toronto and made up a sizeable community; his father had nine siblings and his mother had five, all of whom had children. In his youth, Lucas’ parents took him to the Asas do Atlântico club and St. Helen’s Catholic Church, where he participated in various Portuguese community festivities.
Lucas secretly hoped that his return to Toronto would somehow make him feel more cisgender – when gender identity corresponds with the sex assigned at birth. But his gender dysphoria became more difficult in his teenage years, which led to him experiencing depression. At age 17 he came out to his family as being lesbian to his family, which accepted him well.
After high school, Lucas decided to pursue a music career. When he turned 24, he moved back to Toronto and settled in Little Portugal, near Trinity Bellwoods, with the intent of being closer to the Portuguese community. In 1998, performing under his given name Lilia, he recorded his first album titled Perhaps, which he followed in 2002 with Radio Friendly – Lucas played almost every instrument in both albums. In 2004, he formed the indie rock band The Cliks – an amalgamation of the words “clit” and “dick” – with Heidi Chan and Ezri Kaysen, and recorded their first self-titled album. Meeting Ezri, a transgender woman, helped Lucas make sense of his own gender identity. Shortly after forming the band, when he was 32 years old, he admitted to himself and to his family that he was a transgender male. Ezri was an important person during this process by being a transgender person that Lucas’ parents already knew and could speak to. At first, it was difficult for his family to adjust to his male gender, especially because he did not undergo hormone replacement therapy for the first five years, fearful that it would affect his voice.
At the same time that Lucas underwent his transition, The Cliks started gaining notoriety, both for its music and the fact that they had two transgender members, which was still uncommon then. In 2007, they signed a record deal with the Warner Music in Canada and Tommy Boy Records in the United States, and recorded their album Snakehouse. They followed it with Dirty King (2007) and Black Tie Elevator (2013) – the latter was recorded after Lucas had completed his hormone therapy and his voice had changed. Lucas and his band toured North America multiple times, including with Cyndi Lauper and her True Colours Tour, alongside The Cult, New York Dolls, Tegan and Sara, Debbie Harry, the B-52’s, Dresden Dolls, and Margaret Cho. They also performed on American late night television shows like Late Night With Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and MTV’s TRL.
Lucas has been a vocal advocate for transgender people and a active member of the organized LGBTQ2S+ community. He has often used his platform to to raise awareness, advance the rights of the transgender community, and be a positive role model for people in transition. He also co-hosted the Vice documentary series Shine True (2021), which celebrates trans and gender nonconforming people and helps them overcome dysphoria. Recently, due to his struggles with hearing loss and tinnitus, Lucas decided to dismantle The Cliks and focus on performing solo and acoustically.
Lucas maintains a strong connection to Pico, where his parents and siblings have moved back to. He visits the island regularly and even got married at Calheta do Nesquim. He performed in English and Portuguese with the local marching band during its 100th year anniversary and was well received by the community.
Hora dos Portugueses