American actress and transgender activist Calpernia Addams is a woman of many talents who has fought for justice on many levels.
Born male, she served as a specialist combat medic with the US Navy and Marines before beginning her sex transition.
She is in Australia for the first time as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, culminating in this weekend's parade.
Addams' act, which includes song, dance and a variety of musical instruments, has been described as "Elvira-meets-Joan Jett".
But her looks are Marilyn-meets-Mae West, with styled blonde hair swept over glittering costume jewellery and a perfectly made-up face.
Although she is no stranger to cruelty and rejection, her aim is to "stay sweet no matter how sour life gets".
She likens the church to a cult."We weren't allowed to see modern movies, listen to modern music.
Women were not allowed to wear make-up or colour their hair," she told Jane Hutcheon on One Plus One."Wearing gold was vanity, so my parents did not wear wedding rings."It was just a strange way to grow up." Discouraged from college because her parents believed "education led one away from God", Addams later joined the Navy.
She served in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm as a specialist medic taking care of sailors, marines and prisoners of war.
After her service, Addams went to her first drag show where she saw glamorous performers on stage who turned out to be transsexual women."I was gobsmacked, I thought 'wow it's possible', if they can do it then why can't I? She began her sex transition in her 20s, which ended in sexual reassignment.
Addams recalls meeting soldier Barry Winchell one fateful Sunday while working as a showgirl after she had transitioned."It is so difficult to find love as a trans woman because we are so often fetishised.