Less than a year ago, Kim Petras released her debut single, the pop gem “I Don’t Want It at All.” But already, she has learned to toe a tricky line: how to keep people’s focus on her music without downplaying her transgender identity. “I’ve been asked in a meeting at a company I was debating signing with if I was transgender because it’s trendy,” says the 25-year-old, cocking her head. “I’m like, ‘Bitch, I’ve been transgender my whole life.'"
Petras grew up in Cologne, Germany, and at 16 became famous as one of the world’s youngest persons to undergo gender-affirmation surgery. By then, she had started songwriting, but Germany’s music industry “didn't want to take me seriously at all. It was just like, ‘Nope, joke.’” She came to the United States at 19 to give writing another shot, drafting “600 songs” while couch-surfing, but eventually realized she had to sing her “big, emphatic pop songs” herself.