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Calpernia Addams
Calpernia Addams, at 2009 Outfest Legacy Awards
Born February 20, 1971(1971-02-20) (age 51)
Nashville, Tennessee, US
Residence Los Angeles
Occupation Actress, author, musician, activist, spokesperson
Years active 2002–present

Calpernia Sarah Addams (born February 20, 1971) is an American author, actress, musician, and a spokesperson and activist for transgender rights and issues.[1]


Addams grew up in Nashville, Tennessee.[2] 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.[3] Addams chose the name "Calpernia" from the William Shakespeare play Julius Caesar (a variant spelling of Caesar's wife Calpurnia) and its appearance on a tombstone in the film The Addams Family.[3]

In 1999, while working as a performer, Addams 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.[4] Winchell's murder and the subsequent trial resulted in widespread press[5] and a formal review of the U.S. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) military policy, ordered by President Bill Clinton.[6][7][8] The case became a prominent example used to illustrate the failure of DADT to protect LGBT service members.[5] Addams' and Winchell's romance and the crimes of their abusers are depicted in the film Soldier's Girl, released in 2003. Addams was portrayed by Lee Pace. A subsequent New York Times article, "An Inconvenient Woman", documented the marginalization and misrepresentation of transgender sexuality even by gay rights activists.[5][9]


Adams and Andrea James at the [ Out and Equal Workplace Summit


Addams began entertaining as a child by playing Bluegrass and Gospel-style fiddle in church, and acting in school plays. 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 40,000 sq ft (3,700 m2) nightclub/theater, where she eventually met Winchell in 1999. 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. With Winchell's death Addams suspended her performances, then left Nashville to move first to Chicago and then to Los Angeles.

In 2002, she formed Deep Stealth Productions in Hollywood with Andrea James.[10] 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.[11]

At the Sundance debut of Soldier's Girl, Addams met Jane Fonda, whose son Troy Garity had played Winchell. Fonda suggested Addams mount an all-transgender production of The Vagina Monologues.[3] The production was to contribute funds and help raise awareness of violence against women; it became the subject of the 2006 documentary film Beautiful Daughters.[12]

A reality television series entitled Transamerican Love Story, featuring Addams choosing among eight suitors, debuted February 11, 2008 on Logo TV.

In April 2008, Addams performed alongside Fonda, Glenn Close, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, and others in a tenth-anniversary production of The Vagina Monologues at the Louisiana Superdome.[3][13]

In May 2008, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chose Addams as PFLAG's spokesperson for their educational campaign, This Is Our Love Story.[14] 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."[15] Addams writes a blog on gender issues for Psychology Today.[16]

Addams has released a single entitled "Stunning", available on iTunes. Addams co-produced the song "The Vagina Song" by Willam Belli, from his debut album The Wreckoning, and made a cameo in the song's music video.[17][18]


  1. France, David (May 29, 2005). "An Inconvenient Woman". New York Times Sunday Magazine. Retrieved January 30, 2007. 
  2. Addams, Calpernia (2002). Mark 947: A Life Shaped by God, Gender, and Force of Will. Writers Club Press. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Jonny McGovern, Linda James, Martin Beauchamp (March 11, 2008). "Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern" (Podcast). Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  4. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". June 17, 2003. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 France, David (May 28, 2000). An Inconvenient Woman. New York Times
  6. Black, Chris (December 13, 1999). Pentagon to review 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. CNN
  7. Becker, Elizabeth (February 2, 2000). Pentagon Orders Training to Prevent Harassment of Gays. New York Times
  8. Pear, Robert (December 12, 1999). President Admits "Don't Ask" policy Has Been Failure. New York Times
  9. Clines, Francis (December 9, 1999). "Killer's Trial Shows Gay Soldier's Anguish". New York Times. NYTimes. Retrieved February 23, 2008. 
  10. "Deep Stealth Productions celebrates 5-year anniversary". Deep Stealth Productions. October 3, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 
  11. Stewart, Jenny. "Moving beyond Wisteria Lane: An interview with Felicity Huffman". Retrieved 2008=08-13. 
  12. Moylan, Bryan (February 10, 2006). "V for very tame". Houston Voice. Retrieved August 13, 2008. 
  13. "The V-Day Event Of The Decade | V to the Tenth". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  14. "PFLAG: Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays". 2008-05-19. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  15. Santoscoy, Carlos (June 5, 2008). "Calpernia Addams on Love & Transgender Rights". On Top magazine. Retrieved September 13, 2008. 
  16. "Calpernia Addams". Psychology Today. 
  17. Belli, Willam (October 25, 2010). "The Vagina Song". YouTube. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  18. James St. James (October 27, 2010). "The Vagina Song". World of Wonder. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 

Further reading

  • Calpernia Addams, Mark 947: A Life Shaped by God, Gender, and Force of Will (Writers Club Press, 2002). ISBN 0-595-26376-3
  • Jonathan Ames (ed.), Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs (Vintage, 2005). ISBN 1-4000-3014-5

External links

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