Kara Nicole Hays grew up in a small town southeastern Ohio, a region situated in America's conservative Bible Belt. So when she was 12-years-old -- before she had begun transitioning -- and wore a red vinyl catsuit to a Halloween dance in homage to Britney Spears, school officials were in a tizzy. Now, more than 10 years later, Hays credits Spears with helping her through depression. A whopping $70,000 later, Hays could pass as a Spears look-alike.
Hays went under the knife to look more like the pop star, spending $30,000 on surgery in 2002 and the remainder on therapy, hormones, clothing, and cosmetics, according to the New York Daily News.
"Britney was someone that aided me through depression,” the 26-year-old told the Daily News. "Dancing to Britney's videos also aided me in losing weight and feeling better about myself."
Hays faced criticism and scrutiny growing up. Her family initially had trouble accepting her and she reportedly received death threats from classmates.
During this time, Hays said that it was natural for her to look to Spears, who exploded onto the music scene with her 1998 hit "... Baby One More Time," for inspiration. In 1999, when Hays was 15, she began taking female hormones.
"When you feel like you’re a girl living in a boy’s body and you try to change you want that validation that you look like a girl," Hayes said, according to the Daily Mail. "I viewed her as a very strong woman, everybody wanted to date her."
"I focused on Britney and Christina Aguilera for my inspiration: they were the stars that were around when I was younger, they are who you looked up to," the Mail reported her as saying. "Nowadays people have Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. I was just thinking, I want to be a girl now, who do I emulate?"
When her story was first made public, Hays faced some backlash from critics on Twitter, but she took it all in stride, saying she is still true to herself.
Yeah, maybe now I'll spend 60,000 to look like Justin Bieber. I'm kidding, of course. I am a huge fan of Britney, but I like being me. :) xo
— Kara Nicole Hays (@IamKaraNicole) July 22, 2012
Check out Hays' best Britney blonde:
Back to blonde! I have returned! Sexy. Sex. Obsessive. Feeling the heat of the day pulsate through me. twitter.com/IamKaraNicole/…
— Kara Nicole Hays (@IamKaraNicole) May 6, 2012
Below, view 20 Transgender icons:
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