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Kim Petras earns Grammy for Sam Smith hit, becomes first openly transgender woman to win honor

Kim Petras' historic win at Sunday's Grammy Awards is truly something sacred.

The German-born pop singer, who made a splash featured on Sam Smith's electropop smash "Unholy," made Grammys history when she won the award for best pop duo/group performance at the 65th annual Grammy Awards, becoming what's believed to be the first openly transgender woman to win music's top honor in the category.

"Sam graciously wanted me to accept this award because I'm the first transgender woman to win," Petras said during her acceptance speech. "Sam, you are a true angel and hero in my life. I love you."

Petras gushed further about her friendship with Smith backstage at the awards ceremony.

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"Sam has been a special friend and supporter of mine," Petras said. "It’s special to share this with someone who has given me such important advice in my life, dealing with the opinions of people. I feel like I’ve learned so much. Sam will never get rid of me, and we’ll sing the song for eternity."

Aside from Smith, Petras also took a moment onstage to give a shoutout to some of her musical heroes, including Madonna ("I don't think I could be here without Madonna") and the late Sophie, a trans electronic producer and DJ who died in 2021.

"Thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie," Petras said. "I adore you, and your inspiration will forever be in my music."

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Kim Petras, left, accepts the award for best pop duo/group performance with Sam Smith for “Unholy.”
Kim Petras, left, accepts the award for best pop duo/group performance with Sam Smith for “Unholy.”

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Petras also thanked her mother for the vital role she played in her personal journey.

"I grew up next to a highway in nowhere-Germany, and my mother believed that I was a girl," Petras said. "And I wouldn't be here without her and her support."

The "brrr" singer reflected on the significance of her win backstage.

"All these years are going through my head of people saying I would be a niche artist and my music would only be played in gay clubs," Petras said. "I hope kids who saw this, who feel they don’t belong and don’t have a place in society, feel inspired that you can be yourself and get rewarded for your talent rather than your gender or sexuality."

Petras’ “Unholy” collaborator Smith, who identifies as nonbinary, recently caused a stir with their other song “I’m Not Here to Make Friends.” A music video for the song includes scantily clad dancers gyrating on beds and under streams of water. The video has sparked strong reactions on Twitter, where users have attacked and defended the singer.

Divisive or double standard? The controversy around Sam Smith's raunchy music video, explained

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kim Petras makes history at 2023 Grammys with Sam Smith collab win