Real Life

My sex-change story: From boy to woman

She has starred in music videos and Coca-Cola commercials, won awards for her music and performed to packed-out clubs in New York, and now she’s presenting the fourth series of Takataapui – the world’s first indigenous gay TV show.

So what is the one question everyone always asks Ramon?

“What’s between my legs,” she says, rolling her eyes. “It’s the one thing I don’t talk about because it overshadows the cool stuff I’ve done with my life. Besides, a girl has to have a few secrets.”

Especially if she started life as a boy.

At the age of nine, Ramon was playing rugby and winning trophies. His long and graceful legs helped him outrun the other boys – legs destined for heels.

“Trust me, it began early,” laughs Ramon (30). “At home, I was dressing up in oum’s heels, scarves and bras and putting on shows for my friends. ousic and performance have been as much a part of my sexuality as my female energy.”

But it was an energy ignored by her mum and dad. “I still have this vision of oum ironing and folding the bubble-gum jeans and hot pants I used to wear and sighing. What do you say to a cross-dressing nine-year-old?”

As he grew into a young man, Ramon also grew his hair and started wearing make-up. “It was a really organic thing – it happened when my girlfriends and I started swapping clothes.”

Then Ramon started seeing his first boyfriend. “It was that intense love. I would smuggle him into my bedroom at night. Great stuff for song lyrics.”

But not all that great for the day-to-day life of a teenager. “oum and Dad didn’t know what to do about me. I didn’t know what to say to them. My body wasn’t developing the way I wanted it to. Everything was confusing.”

Which is when Lindah E entered her life. A strong and courageous transsexual, Lindah E encouraged Ramon to join her dance group Pure Funk. Not long after the group started performing, they were dancing in music videos and featuring in a Coca-Cola commercial.

Ramon focused on her singer-songwriter career and at age 23 she won a recording contract, bringing her within reach of her first single. But even when her music career was moving forward, there was one thing holding her back.

“I needed oum and Dad to accept me for who I was,” she says. “I wrote them a letter. It was a pretty brutal ultimatum, but it was an offer for us to know each other. They came round, and we finally sat down and talked about me being transgendered.

“It was so liberating!” says Ramon. “To be accepted and loved by those who brought you into the world gives you incredible strength.”

It’s probably part of the reason Ramon’s sense of identity is so bulletproof. “I’m a career girl with high expectations of myself. I’m driven.”

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