Transgender Teen’s Journey Leads to Stardom
By: David Bolch
Her electronic dance pop music has a heavy footing in Germany, a country that boasts world-class nightlife and extravagant dance clubs, and Kim is being noticed now for her music alone instead of her medical decisions and past as a boy. With an entire label behind her, a famous salon bolstering her celebrity, and a supportive family, Kim Petras seems poised for greatness. After years of struggling in the spotlight and a landmark ruling by German authorities on age restrictions for gender reassignment surgery, Kim is now the women she always yearned to be.
Gender reassignment surgery, once a rare operation, is steadily becoming more common. In many cases it’s covered by insurance and categorized as an illness, but the age in which individuals go under the knife is still a controversial subject. In the UK, the youngest to go under the knife was Angel Paris-Jordan, 17, in 2002, but Tim Petras was the youngest patient in the world to start the process.
At the age of 12 Tim started hormone replacement therapy, one of the first steps in what would ultimately be a full sex change operation. The official age floor for sex change patients is 18 in many first world countries, like the UK and Germany, but due to the publicity, lobbying, and diagnoses by several prominent German physicians, Petras was given the green light. While the Petras’ family gained notoriety for allowing their son to undergo the procedure, Tim, now Kim, has flourished.
“I was asked if I feel like a woman now—but the truth is I have always felt like a woman—I just ended up in the wrong body.”
According to Dr. Achim Wuesthof, the transsexuality specialist from Frankfurt University that recognized symptoms early in Petras’ life, said that he and his colleagues felt that in this case it was best to start earlier.
Wuesthof explains that “transsexuals experience the onset of puberty, and the physical changes it brings, as a serious trauma. According to German law, two independent psychiatrists must confirm that the child is indeed a transsexual and approve the sex change. Once that has been done, it is best to start as early as possible.”
The move seems to have paid off, as Kim, who was officially registered as a girl at 14 and completed the gender reassignment surgery at 16, is now a thriving pop singer in her native Germany. The Cologne, Germany resident even attracted the attention of nationwide hair salon Unisex, who made her the face of their brand. The fame from the choice alone catapulted Kim into the headlines and garnered attention from businesses and doctors, alike, but her singing ability trumped any of the medical developments. She began releasing songs online, and before long her videos were viral hits.
Just weeks before the cosmetic surgery to finalize her transition she released the first commercially available single, “Fade Away” into the German market. With sundry videos and covers and finally a proper single of her own, Kim caught the ear of German producer Fabian Gorg, who offered to produce an album with her. She accepted the offer and started on new material immediately.
Kim said, “I started singing because my mother, Konni, is a jazz singer, so I’ve been singing since I was really young. But I got known by putting videos on YouTube of me singing covers, such as ‘No One’ by Alicia Keys.” Gorg’s label, Joyce Records, is producing her second single, “Die For You,” which is also receiving a video shoot to promote the upcoming album.
In an interview about her surgery she stated: “I was asked if I feel like a woman now—but the truth is I have always felt like a woman—I just ended up in the wrong body.”