The “Heart to Break” singer, who is transgender, didn’t always feel so free to express herself through fashion. Growing up in Cologne, Germany, Petras said she had to go to school in gender-neutral clothing rather than, say, “the pink ballerina outfit I really wanted to wear.”
That quickly changed once she began transitioning in her early teens. Several years after making history as the world’s youngest person to ever receive gender reassignment surgery at the age of 16, Petras moved to LA to pursue a career in music — first writing songs for singers like Fergie and JoJo, then releasing her own tracks like “I Don’t Want It At All” (the music video for which stars Paris Hilton, one of Petras’ longtime icons).
As for what inspires her personal style today? “I’m really obsessed with classic movie characters,” she said. “Dr. Frank N. Furter from ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ Veruca Salt, ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’-era Marilyn Monroe. And ‘The First Wives Club’… that’s a big one.”
Now, with the fashion industry’s full attention, a tour with fellow LGBTQ icon Troye Sivan and a new Halloween-themed mixtape under her belt, Petras is looking to the future — and determined to not let her gender identity define her story or her songs.
“Some people think that if you’re a transgender [artist], that’s all you can do and all your messaging should be about,” she said. “But I write about human emotions, human feelings. And I think everyone can relate to that.”
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