CHRISIE Edkins is strikingly pretty. It’s hard to believe the 32-year-old singer, DJ and model was born male.
Chrisie used to be Chris – a bit of a bad boy.
It is only when she speaks that any hint of her history is apparent – she elected not to have vocal surgery as it would have meant she would have had to call time on her singing career.
And Chrisie, from Southampton, doesn’t want to disguise her past.
She is confident, happy and keen to share her story in the hope of helping other transgender people.
And she has an extra reason to be glowing. After being born a boy and changing to a woman, she recently got engaged – to a woman.
But life wasn’t always like this.
“I knew when I was about seven that there was something different about me,” she remembers.
“When I got older, I used to sneak home from school at lunchtime to dress up in my sister’s clothes. One day my mum and sister caught me. I felt like there was something wrong with me. My mum had a big chat with me and said there was nothing wrong if I wanted to be a girl but I denied it to her. That’s one of my biggest regrets.”
As she went through puberty and her body became more masculine, she became increasingly unhappy and first attempted suicide at 14.
“I threw myself down some stairs, and took tablets numerous times,” she says.
“I jumped off a bridge, tried to electrocute myself and cut myself.”
Sadly, her mother died without knowing that Chrisie, then 19, felt trapped in a man’s body.
It was then that Chrisie realised that this wasn’t what her mother would have wanted and stopped trying to kill herself.
She began dressing more as a woman, but in her early 20s, she rejected that side of herself and decided to live as what she calls “an alpha male”.
She started body building, hung around with what she described as a ‘bad crowd’, ran a limousine company and trained as an electrician and bricklayer.
But she was miserable.
“I hated life for making me live that way,”
“I felt like society was pushing me in a direction I didn’t want to go in.”
She says that she was horrible to everyone, except her daughter, who is now ten and still lives with her in Southampton, although Chrisie is no longer with her mother.
“She is the most accepting child I’ve known,” says Chrisie.
“I’ve brought her up the right way – to accept people and not judge them.”
Luckily her then girlfriend and the mother of her child stuck by her and was the first person who Chrisie told that she felt like a woman on the inside.
She also convinced Chrisie to tell her father the truth.
He accepted her, saying he would always love her, but not everyone felt the same.
Just after she changed her name and profile picture on Facebook to reflect her femininity, a group of men turned up at Chrisie’s house and badly beat her up.
It is her experiences that have led Chrisie to where she is today, campaigning against hate crime and promoting acceptance.
She chooses to be public about her transgender journey in the hope that it will inspire others. She is open about the fact that she is pre-op, but plans to have lower surgery to complete her body’s transition from male to female.
“When they complete their journey, many trans people want to wipe out their history,” she says.
“But I believe that the more people who come out into the light and show the world that there’s nothing wrong with being in the minority, the better – the more people accept it and the easier it gets for other people in the same situation.”
Chrisie has never shied away from media attention. Following an interview in the Daily Echo in 2010, she appeared on This Morning where Eamonn Holmes’ seeming awkwardness makes for cringe-worthy viewing.
Chrisie was unphased by the interview, but she did draw the line at a feature with a glossy magazine for which she was asked intimate questions about her and her current partner, Kinga’s sex life.
Chrisie and Kinga have been dating since August and got engaged on Christmas Day.
“We had both bought rings for each other without realising it,”
“She got in there first and proposed at home. I wanted to find somewhere public to propose to make it romantic but nowhere is open on Christmas Day. I ended up going down on one knee in a petrol station!”
Kinga says that she realised Chrisie was transgender when she heard her speak, but that it was never an issue for her.
Chrisie and Kinga are looking forward to getting married but in the meantime, Chrisie has some other planning to do.
A singer and DJ, she has set herself a mission of performing for free at as many Pride festivals – which celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender communities –this year as she can. All she is asking for is her travel expenses and a place to sleep – even if it’s a floor.
“It started when I was paid to perform at a Pride and I didn’t want the money. I didn’t even cash the cheque,” she says.
“I thought ‘why do I want to be paid for something I believe in?’. I’m making a stand against all hate crime. My music is about equality and transgender issues, especially hate crime which is very close to my heart. I want to raise awareness. If we all stick together the world is that bit easier.
“I believe 2012 is going to be the year when we all stand up and try to make this world a better place for all walks of life.
“None of us are out there to hurt anybody.
I believe you can do what you want and be who you want – as long as you’re not hurting anybody else in the process, you’re not doing anything wrong.”
• Chrisie is looking for sponsors to help get her to as many Pride festivals as possible. If you can help, contact her via her website.