When I first started delivering Transgender Awareness Training in 2005, I found that the level of confusion most people experience over “Why” someone would want to change gender was much greater than I had thought. It is very difficult for most people who are comfortable with their gender to comprehend the torment and anguish felt by someone who feels deep inside that they simply have the wrong body.
I knew at the age of 7 that I was transgender. Well I didn’t know that was the label, I just knew that I was not comfortable as a boy; that I wanted all the things my sister had. But I also knew that this had to be my secret. There was no one to talk to and I was already well aware that there were very different rules for boys and girls and that breaking the rules for boys would result in ridicule – or worse.
"But how can anyone know at such an early age?”
That is the question I have been asked on workshops more often than any other.
In 2007 I came across the 20:20 My Secret Self documentary and for the first time I had a means to help people understand. The entire documentary is about an hour long which was far too much for a workshop, so I picked Part 3 which explores the story of Richard/Riley a male to female trans child and the challenges his parents Stephanie and Neil face in coming to terms with their child’s gender identity disorder. This is continued in part 4 which I also show if there is time – though increasingly I use part 5 which explorers the experiences of a female to male trans teenager and summarises the programme.
That all said – the entire programme is eye opening and without doubt the best documentary every produced on this topic which primarily because of the sensitive way in which Barbara Walters gains the trust of the children and parents and presents the information paying particular attention to getting the pronouns right throughout the show, something British documentary makers consistently get wrong.
I have watched Part 3 well over 100 times and I still find it interesting – If you have attended one of my workshops and discussed the programme, watch it again now and I guarantee you will hear things that you completely missed the first time. Also I really do recommend that you take the time to watch all 5 parts. This documentary really does transform peoples views and the more people who see this the better it will be for everyone who challenges gender norms and their friends and family.
Kim Petras is famous for two reasons - first she is an extremely talented rising pop star from Germany - the second is that she was born a boy and became the youngest person to know to have undergone full gender reassignment surgery at the age of 16.
First watch her performing her debut music video
This next video is a recording of her interview on the BBC Good Morning programme with Philip Schofield and Fern Britton. TV interview of German transgirl Kim Petras on the Morning Show. The interview draws a more realistic picture of Kim than in the CBS show "The Insider" on April 30, 2009. Kim speaks about her past as a boy and the latest single she has released: "Die for you".