I'm 27, I grew up behind the orange curtain of Orange County, California. I live in Long Beach, CA currently. However, OC is still my home away from home so I spend half my time there anyway. My parents divorced when I was a child (around 7/8 years old). Very athletic growing up, intensley involved in softball for 12 years starting at the age of 5. Softball was my world growing up, but behind closed doors I had others dreams. Dreams of being a singer and an entertainer. But I only envisioned myself as being like a backstreet boy or more importantly....Elvis Presley. Not only were they my idols musically, but I wanted to be what felt natural to me. To be the man I always felt I was. Emulating Elvis in my sanctuary which was my bedroom, I was able to express myself comfortably. Not only was I hiding my true self behind the safety of my bedroom, but I was also hiding my talent. My family didn't know I had a passion for music and that I could sing up until a few years ago. That's how much I hid.I was afraid of being criticized. Not that my family wouldn't support me, but I figured they would laugh at me. I suppose they didn't take me for the singing type.
Which they were indeed shocked and didn't believe me when I told them I had recorded a little demo. They laughed until I let them hear it. They haven't made fun of me since!
I recorded a little demo of 5 songs pre transition. Actually, it was just as I started HRT. Needless to say, I've had to adjust to my new vocal range. It's a bit of a trip to hear what I sounded like then.
What was the LGBT community like in CA? Considering my whole upbringing is from Orange County, I can't say there really was an active LGBT community in the OC. If there was, I wasn't aware of it and did not know anyone who was a part of it.
I was pretty sheltered when it came to the LGBT community. While I had a girlfriend at 15, I was about 18 years old by the time I was exposed to seeing my first gay couple walking down the street. It was total culture shock for me. I was dating someone else much older when I was 18, so she helped to expose me to the LGBT community. We spent some time in Long Beach where there is a thriving LGBT community.
As I grew older, I explored the west hollywood area which we all know is fairly LGBT friendly. However, through those years.....I still didn't have a sense of where I belonged. I didn't really feel comfortable identifying with the LGB community. I knew nothing about the trans community, yet I had a strong idea about who I was. I didn't know a trans person. I barely knew what trans was.
All I knew, was that I needed to find answers to who I was and what to do about it. I began to dabble in the butch/femme community. While I made lifelong friends in the B/F community, that didn't fit either.
It's all been a growing process, and each step of the way gave me room to ultimately be the man I am today.
When did you first start singing?I have been singing for as a long as I can remember. What kid didn't stand in front of the mirror and sing? Except I was real intense about it and just shut myself in my room for hours on end pretending to put on extravagant stage shows. That started early on and that was just my sanctuary, just dreaming about singing for people. I was big on the golden oldies of the 50's and 60's when I was real little. I discovered Elvis Presley at about 8 years old and the rest is history, my life was officially consumed by music.
When did you start hormones?I officially started HRT on July 1st, 2008. I'll never forget it. The first day of the rest of my life.
So, I'm coming up on my 4 year anniversary.
What did you do to help your voice's transition? Not a damn thing! haha. I honestly didn't know what to expect, that was the scariest part. Deciding to do HRT meant really coming to terms with the possibility that my voice may change in a way that I'm not happy with. Since there really isn't a "one size fits all" result with our voices when we transition, it was a gamble. I had to weigh the two most important thing's in my life. My identity and my passion for singing.
I took a gamble and went with what I knew was ultimately not going to just be an option any further. I had to transition. And for ME, that meant starting HRT.
I knew that if I was going to stick with singing, I would need to adapt and adjust with the changes in my voice.
My biggest fear was, "would I lose my vibrato?" I did as much research as I could and also spoke with my Doctor about it. There is no evidence that states you will lose your vibrato. It's safe to say there really hasn't been any research on the matter. I just figured at the very least I would need to adapt to a new range. And I have :) Oh, and I haven't lost my vibrato!
We've heard that male hormones can actually bring your voice both up and down an octave, thanks to your new found falsetto, was that the case?
I cut a demo just before I began hormones, and when I go back and listen to those....man, I could hit some high notes. It's a little depressing when I listen now, because I don't think I can reach that high anymore. But it's all about song choice. I can still go pretty high, my voice is just thicker and richer. I may even be able to reach the same heights as before but I really need to train and discpline my new voice to reach it properly without hurting myself. Can I reach a lower range? Absolutely. I'm lovin it!
I've always had a falsetto, the hard part now is making sure to not crack on a falsetto ;-)
I plan on seeing a vocal coach to help train me to care for and use my voice properly. Sometimes I want to push, and the last thing I want to do is cause damage. I have to be careful.
Any advice for other vocalists in transition?
I know HRT isn't for everyone. But if that's the route you decide to take, be open to all possibilities with your voice. As I said before, there's no "one size fits all" for how your voice will turn out. In my personal experience I have adjusted fairly well and I'm STILL adjusting. I'm working with what I've got and I'm going to train my voice to be everything it can be.
Do you have any goals involving the trans community?
At the end of the day, I'm just a guy that's pursuing his passion.....who happens to be trans. Since being a transman won't be a secret, however, I hope I'll at least be able to be a positive face for my community. If my being in the public eye helps someone either struggling with their identity or someone with no knowledge of trans individuals, I think I could be happy with that. I do like to show my solidarity with my brothers and sisters whenever I can, so you'll likely see me taking part in various trans events and/or programs.
My general goal is to reach a diverse audience. Cis, Trans, gay, straight, bi, young, old, whoever or whatever you may be. I just want to make music and entertain you :-)
How can someone go about listening to/buying your music?
I can pretty much be found on most social networks. Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, Reverbnation, etc. My music can be downloaded via itunes, amazonMP3, Reverbnation or Emusic. I hope that I'll earn the support of my trans brothers/sisters and allies. God knows going into this industry is tough, but I'm determined!
Here are the links to find and follow Cristopher and his amazing journey!