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NUNN ON ONE Trans singer Kim Petras talks family, transition, big break
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Transgender singer Kim Petras is performing for the first time nationwide at large concerts, thanks to Troye Sivan, who is on his "The Bloom" Tour.

Born in Cologne, Germany, Petras knew her identity at age 2. She received medical treatment in Hamburg and announced on her blog that, at age 16, she had completed gender-reassignment surgery in 2008. ( Under German law, a person would normally have to be 18. )

Her dreams of becoming a singer began with a debut single "I Don't Want It at All" and video featuring Paris Hilton. She has released several successful singles, such as "Hillside Boys" and "Heart to Break."

Then, Petras was part of mixtapes, including Charli XCX's Pop 2; also, just in time for October, Petras has released a Halloween-themed mixtape titled Turn Off the Lights Vol. 1, featuring Elvira on one of the eight new tracks, with songs like "TRANSylvania" and "Boo! Bitch!"

Windy City Times: Tell our readers about yourself so they can get to know you.

Kim Petras: I'm a pop songwriter. I was obsessed with pop music since I was 10 years old. I listened to music from Carole King, Max Martin and the Bee Gees. I knew people weren't going to write me a song so I would need to be a good songwriter like them. That was my way into the whole thing.

At age 16, I wrote a laundry detergent jingle. That was my foot in the door—my big break! I got a publishing deal in Germany and at 19 I came to LA. I wanted to write pop music and become amazing at it.

Nothing happened for two years, then I wrote a song for Fergie that was going to be her big single when "M.I.L.F $" came out. It was called "Dancing." It might still come out. It is my mom's favorite song that I ever wrote.

WCT: Did you record it?

KP: Yes. In the beginning I had me singing it, so I still have that version. It has a really good rap hook. Let's hope it comes out.

WCT: How did you wind up working with Charli XCX?

KP: A singer named Sophie works a lot with Charli XCX. I went to Sophie's break out show in LA. It was the first show she had done as an artist herself. Charli was there so we went backstage and partied. She hit me up two days later to do the song.

WCT: How did the Troye Sivan tour happen?

KP: My management called me and asked me to be on the tour. Troye messaged me before and said he liked my music. It is like 32 dates across the country so I am excited.

WCT: You have new music to perform. "Can't Do Better" sounds like an anthem.

KP: I love Pat Benatar and big '80s moments. It is about me having a crush on a boy having a crush on another girl. I can be insecure and it is a hype yourself up song. I have been sitting on it for a year and it's a very special song.

WCT: "Heart to Break" is a jam.

KP: Thank you. It is very hard to sing live because the verse is so low and the chorus is so high. I am getting more and more used to it. I love the music video.

WCT: Did you have a lot of input on the video treatment?

KP: Yes. The creative director is my homie and we just hang out. We wrote the treatment while at Harry Potter World at Universal in LA.

WCT: Are you into Harry Potter?

KP: Yeah, I'm a Hufflepuff all the way!

WCT: What have been challenges in the music business?

KP: I think you need to know everything about it in order to be a success and make money off of it. My goal is to be touring my whole life and really build a real fanbase.

It took me awhile to find myself as an artist. It's about timing. I have been talking with people about contracts. I have had to wait and get out of some of them. There has been a lot of frustration. It's a lot of work to release stuff and have a shot.

We are doing an old school radio tour and playing lounges acoustically. Radio Disney is playing my music, which is amazing!

WCT: Has your family always been supportive of your transition?

KP: Yes. I told them, "I am a girl and want to live as one." I wanted to mutilate myself. I did not want to have a male gender.

My mother told me we could go see doctors together once I was old enough that there was a way to live as a girl. I didn't feel hopeless after that so that helped me around the age of 10. I woke up everyday and was scared I would grow a beard. I would cry and was terrified. I was scared my voice would get lower.

Some doctors told them to shave my hair off and send me to school in boy clothes. I did and nothing changed. It hasn't been easy.

We found a doctor when I was 12 that started me on hormone therapy. I got the blockers for male puberty and ever since then I have been happy. After I had the surgery I didn't hate myself anymore. I finally felt connected to my body.

WCT: Was the process easier in Germany?

KP: It was, in a way. My family is not rich, but health insurance covered it there, so that was incredible. I hope health insurance will change in America. It's really important.

If you are different and face struggles in school it will be hard enough for you.

WCT: You have brought a lot of attention to those struggles through your story.

KP: That was my whole childhood and teenage years. I was all about doing documentaries. I think my first one was at 12 and my last one at 16. I wanted to help people. Not every child is lucky to have supportive parents. We have a responsibility to be a good example. I get to live a completely normal life as a girl and I am happy!

Petras will perform on Troye Sivan's Bloom Tour on Friday, Oct. 19, at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., at 7:30 p.m. Visit for ticket information.

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