This is Calpernia Sarah Addams an American author, actress, musician, spokesperson, educator and powerful activist for the transgender community. Addams began entertaining as a child by playing Bluegrass and Gospel-style fiddle in church, and acting in school plays. She served as a Hospital Corpsman with the Navy and United States Marine Corps. During her last year in the military she came out as a transgender woman. While in the Navy she worked in community theater as an actor and director. After completing military service and returning to Nashville, Calpernia played fiddle with a Celtic band. In 1993, she began work at The Connection, a nightclub/theater. She gradually began headlining up to 10 shows a week for audiences of up to 2,000 people.
In her sixth year as a full-time cast member and after winning one Miss Nashville Entertainer of the Year, Addams won Tennessee Entertainer of the Year in 1999. That same year, Addams met and began dating PFC Barry Winchell. Word of the relationship spread at Winchell’s Army base where he was harassed by fellow soldiers and ultimately murdered. With Winchell’s death Addams suspended her performances. Winchell’s murder and the subsequent trial resulted in widespread press and a formal review of the U.S. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) military policy. The case became a prominent example used to illustrate the failure of DADT to protect LGBT service members. Addams’ and Winchell’s romance and the crimes of their abusers are depicted in the film Soldier’s Girl. A subsequent New York Times article, “An Inconvenient Woman”, documented the marginalization and misrepresentation of transgender sexuality even by gay rights activists.
In 2002, she formed Deep Stealth Productions in Hollywood with Andrea James. Deep Stealth creates educational and entertainment material around gender-identification issues and the experiences of differently-gendered people. Addams and James coached Felicity Huffman for her Academy Award-nominated performance as a transgender woman in the film Transamerica. A reality television series entitled Transamerican Love Story, featuring Addams choosing among eight suitors. In May 2008, PFLAG chose Addams as their spokesperson for their educational campaign, Addams said, “I hope This Is Our Love Story will help young transgender people as they come out. By seeing the happy, confident woman I’ve become, I hope I can act as a role model for these young people at a critical moment in their development.” Addams writes a blog on gender issues for Psychology Today.