Stunning burlesque performer Cassandra Cass is bringing glamour to stages across LA with her jaw-dropping routines.
But life hasn’t always been so easy for Cassandra, and her lavish Hollywood lifestyle is a world away from her difficult upbringing as a boy in Iowa.
She explains, ‘I am originally from a family of four brothers and a single dad. My dad was a basketball coach and my brothers were all into football, track and field. My dad was very much against anything that was feminine.’
‘I’ve always known that I should be Cassandra – there’s no question. I was hyper feminine as a little boy –it was just a no brainer!’
After years of struggling to conceal her true identity, Cassandra finally plucked up the courage to open up to her dad.
She says, ‘I said, ‘Dad, I really feel like I want to be a woman’ and he lowered his paper and he looked up at me and said, ‘who’s going to want you? Why would anyone want to be with something like that? You’re going to be the ugliest woman.’ It devastated me and I set off on a journey where I was going to prove him wrong.’
After a series of frank conversations with her family about her desire to transition, Cassandra’s family completely disowned her. Spurred on by their negativity she left her hometown and made a new life for herself in Florida.
It was then that Cassandra first underwent a series of surgeries to finally achieve the body she had always dreamt of having. Not one to do things by halves she splashed a whopping $250,000 on surgeries including gender reassignment surgery and operations on her boobs, bum, hips, jaw, nose, teeth, lips and Adam’s apple.
She says, ‘the only thing I haven’t had done is my heart.’
‘I didn’t want to be an ugly woman, I didn’t want to be a basic, simple woman.’
‘I wanted to be the kind of girl that would walk into a room and people would notice.’
Despite being more than comfortable in her own skin, confident Cassandra is the first to admit that she still struggles to find acceptance from other people.
She explains, ‘I think the hardest thing for me has been getting people to accept me just as me.’
‘When I use the word ‘I’m transgender’, 9 times of out of 10 it’s not a positive reaction. I believe labels are for products, not for people and I don’t believe putting people in categories is healthy.’
‘People really have a lack of respect for people such as myself and think that it’s OK to verbally or even physically abuse us or kill us. The only thing I can say is, ‘honey, if you come for me you better be prepared’ because I am not a push over.’
Feisty Cassandra clearly has no trouble defending herself – but what would she say to other transgender people who are facing discrimination?
‘The advice I would give to other trans people who are just starting out is that you’ve got to be tough. It’s a tough, tough life. The best thing I can tell them is to surround yourself with people who understand you for you.’
For now, Cassandra hopes to continue using her love of burlesque and entertainment to help her to find happiness in her own life.
‘I obviously want happiness in my own personal life. I want the Hollywood dream and I want to be a star. I mean, I am a star I just want to be bigger and better.’
Good for you, Cassandra!