American actress and transgender activist Calpernia Addams is a woman of many talents who has fought for justice on many levels.Born male, she served as a specialist combat medic with the US Navy and Marines before beginning her sex transition.
Women were not allowed to wear make-up or colour their hair," she told Jane Hutcheon on One Plus One."Wearing gold was vanity, so my parents did not wear wedding rings."It was just a strange way to grow up." Discouraged from college because her parents believed "education led one away from God", Addams later joined the Navy.
She served in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm as a specialist medic taking care of sailors, marines and prisoners of war.
After her service, Addams went to her first drag show where she saw glamorous performers on stage who turned out to be transsexual women."I was gobsmacked, I thought 'wow it's possible', if they can do it then why can't I? She began her sex transition in her 20s, which ended in sexual reassignment.
Addams recalls meeting soldier Barry Winchell one fateful Sunday while working as a showgirl after she had transitioned."It is so difficult to find love as a trans woman because we are so often fetishised.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, her parents were Christian fundamentalists.
She likens the church to a cult."We weren't allowed to see modern movies, listen to modern music.
Suffering from gender dysphoria from a young age, Addams felt that she should have been born female instead of male.
But the entertainer learned early in life that expressing herself resulted in punishment.
'' We have a certain decorum here in the South, so I just said thank you and turned away,'' she explains.
Still, she can't help being buoyed by their attentions. I've just been through so much lately.'' One morning last fall, thick in the worst of it, Addams twisted her hair in a chignon, smoothed on a simple gray suit and made the hourlong trip from Nashville to the Fort Campbell Army base on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
Addams wants to fill the gaps about trans people, who are often represented as two-dimensional caricatures in various media.