After making history at the 2023 ceremony as the first transgender woman to win in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category for her hit "Unholy" with Sam Smith, the German singer reflected on what the major moment meant to her.
"Wow!" she told reporters backstage on Feb. 5. "All these years are going through my head of people saying I would be a niche artist because I'm transgender and my music would only ever play in gay clubs. And what's wrong with that? I love gay clubs. They raised me. But anyways, now I'm nominated, I got a Grammy for making gay club music with my friend and that's the best feeling in the world."
And Petras hopes her win drives change.
"Honestly, I just think that people need to judge less," she continued, "and I hope that there's a future where gender and identity and all these labels don't matter that much and where people can just be themselves and not get judged so hard and not be labeled so hard. I really hope for that because that was a big struggle for me growing up."
The artist added, "And I hope that all the kids that saw this that, you know, are special, or different, or feel like they don't belong, or like they can't conform to the society and they don't have a place in it feel inspired that, yes, you can be yourself and get rewarded for your talent rather than your gender or your sexuality."
Petras also looked back at how her collaboration with Smith—whom she called a "very special friend and supporter of mine for years"—came to be.
"In the very beginning of my career Sam reached out and said 'I'm inspired by you, and I would love to make a song with you eventually,'" she recalled. "And it took us a lot of songs that we sent back and forth that weren't the right fits. And then finally 'Unholy' came along and we both were like, 'This feels like our song and, like, our little baby.' So we were both, I think, just really into the song. And we're just like, 'I think the song needs you, and I think the song needs me. And let's do this.'"
And she's thrilled to share this Grammy with them.
"It's really special to share this with someone who's given me such important advice in my life, who's helped me with dealing with opinions of people," Petras said. "Sam's been doing this for a little while and has so many amazing songs, and I just I feel like I've learned so much and so I'm grateful for that. And yeah, Sam will never get rid of me, and we'll always sing this song for eternity. So hell yeah, I'm excited for that."
Still, she wouldn't be opposed to teaming up with more artists in the future like Rosalía, Anitta, Doja Cat, M.I.A. and Madonna, the latter of whom introduced Petras and Smith's performance of "Unholy" during the show.
"I just love being in the room with other creative people who have their own vision and their own identity as artists and creating together," Petras noted. "So if any of you guys that I just said would ever be down, like, I would die inside if you wanted to."
As she picked up her award, Petras thanked Smith, her late friend SOPHIE, Madonna, her mother and all her supporters while acknowledging the groundbreaking moment.
"I just want to thank all the incredible transgender legends before me," she said at one point, "who kicked these doors open for me so I could be here tonight."