Bad Bunny Makes Powerful Statement For Trans Rights Performing His New Album on ‘Jimmy Fallon’

Bad Bunny, the reggaeton singer from San Juan, Puerto, was born Rico Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio. The young musician wrote songs during supermarket shifts, and put his tunes on SoundCloud. After DJ Luían noticed his talent and signed the artist to his label, Bad Bunny shot off into stardom. Last year, Bad Bunny sang on the massively popular Cardi B’s hit “I Like It.” The Los Angeles Times reported that “in just a few years, Bad Bunny has remade reggaeton.” But recently, Bad Bunny made an even bolder statement. On Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, the singer honored the human rights of trans people.

The story behind Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny at the Latin GRAMMY Awards in 2018 | Denise Truscello/Getty Images for LARAS

What’s so unique about Bad Bunny’s take? His “inclusive politics, freaky fashion, and moody trap beats,” the Times argues, “[challenge] the genre’s deeply rooted stylistic and social norms.”

And he’s not hurting for fans: Bad Bunny is “one of the most streamed artists on earth.” The LA publication explained why this was extra impressive:

…he has blazed new paths in the broader American market, churning out chart-topping hits with the likes of Cardi B and Drake and playing the country’s biggest arenas, all without the backing of a major label and all while rapping almost exclusively in Spanish.

Bad Bunny even performed at the most recent Super Bowl, with Shakira and J.Lo.

“Amid the collapse of traditional music genres and soaring global demand for urbano — an umbrella term that includes reggaeton, Latin trap, dancehall, and dembow,” the LA Times reported, “everybody wants a piece of Bad Bunny.”

The reggaeton singer’s new album comes out Feb. 29, 2020

The Times also reports that Bad Bunny’s upcoming album, “has a different vibe altogether.”

‘It’s a party record packed with twerkable perreo hits,” they write.

“I changed it all up,” Bad Bunny told the newspaper. “When people expect something from me, I like to go in the other direction.”

This is as true for Bad Bunny’s political statements as it is for his music. Bad Bunny has consistently used his platform for activism and lifting up the voices of the underserved. The Los Angeles Times writes:

Last year he led protests in Puerto Rico calling on the island’s governor to resign — and his attitudes toward gender and sexuality. On social media, he has sung the praises of women who don’t shave their body hair, criticized a Spanish nail salon that barred him entry and called out reggaeton star Don Omar for making anti-gay comments.

“Homophobia in this day and age?” Bad Bunny tweeted once. “How embarrassing, man.”

Bad Bunny used the platform of ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ to spread his message

The Caribbean musician sang some of his songs on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Feb. 27, 2020. For his performance, Bad Bunny decided to make a bold statement–one that many Americans still might not be completely comfortable with.

Bad Bunny decided to honor the life (and tragic end) of Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, a 27-year-old transgender woman in Puerto Rico who was killed earlier this month. Ruiz had used a women’s restroom at a McDonald’s and was fatally punished for it.

For his Jimmy Fallon set, Bad Bunny donned a skirt, along with a sweatshirt that read, “Mataron a Alexa. No a un hombre con falda.” In English, this reads as: “They killed Alexa. Not a man in a skirt.”

Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny performs on Feb. 27, 2020, on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon | Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

It was mostly Twitter users who pointed out the connection between Bad Bunny’s sweatshirt and Puerto Rican media coverage of the tragedy. In reporting on the horrific crime, many Puerto Rican newspapers and other outlets referred to Ruiz as a “man dressed as a woman.”

Bad Bunny reminded everyone watching that the trans woman who died was, first of all, a woman. Referring to a trans person as a man dressed in women’s clothing is neither appropriate nor accurate. Second, she had a name.

Bad Bunny’s performance is about trans lives, not him, Twitter reminds us

One fan tweeted about why the Puerto Rican singer’s message was so significant: “Alexa had long been ridiculed online in life & apparently her last moments were also recorded as her murderers laughed.” Truly sickening stuff.

A rally outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City 2017 demanding to maintain protection for transgender and gender non-conforming people | KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

However, some fans weren’t happy that the response to the news became more about Bad Bunny than the story of Ruiz.

“I’m uncomfortable with how this became about him and getting a bigger crush on him when the point is putting a spotlight on her and the animals that took her innocent life,” they lamented.

The tweeter reminded their followers of the real message Bad Bunny was attempted to send “allyship isn’t about cookies and pats on the back. It’s about amplifying voices of the people being oppressed.”