Real Life ‘Danish Girl': Transgender Woman Helped Actor Prepare for Film

Amid all the glitz and glamour of the Golden Globes Sunday, a story emerged of a transgender woman from Southern California who helped actor Eddie Redmayne prepare for his role in the film "The Danish Girl."

The film chronicles the story of the first person to undergo a sex change operation.

Cadence Valentine is one of LA's hardest working transgender advocates. She mentors at the Pride Center at Cal State University Northridge helping others come to terms with sexuality and gender identity issues.

Her family came to the U.S. from Hungary when she was just 2 years old, and she lived as a male for the next three decades.

Finally at age 30, after cross-dressing for many years, Valentine said she felt she could no longer run from her true identity.

"What if this whole dressing up and gender exploration is more than about just dressing up?" Valentine said. "At first it scared me. It terrified me, because even when I began my transition I was somewhat aware of what the Trans community faces and have to deal with."

The most difficult part of the transition was telling her partner of 10 years, photographer Trista Hidalgo.

"'What if I actually was a girl?' And she looked at me and said, without skipping a beat, 'I love you and I don't care what body that means,'" Valentine said.

Hidalgo said she knew she had to support the person she'd loved since they'd first met in college.

"I love hearts — not parts," Hidalgo said. "So it didn't matter to me that she was a girl."

Valentine underwent sex reassignment surgery in 2014 knowing there was no turning back.

"Forty one percent of Trans people attempt suicide at some point in their lives and I reached that point," Valentine said. "I was willing to give it all up if I couldn't be who I needed to be."

Since her transition, Valentine has become an outspoken advocate and has advised the LAPD about the transgender community.

Most recently, she helped actor Eddie Redmayne research his role in the movie "The Danish Girl."

It's the true life story of Lili Elbe, the Danish painter who was the first known person to undergo sex reassignment surgery in 1930. Elbe who was supported by his wife Gerda.

"Just absolutely beautiful," Valentine said. "It's a love story unlike anything I've ever seen."

Valentine said she was especially moved by a scene in the film where Elbe says she felt most beautiful when being painted by her wife. Valentine feels the same way when Hidalgo photographs her.

"The only time I ever see myself, truly myself, and I felt beautiful is when I look into those images," Valentine said.

Valentine said the love stories are remarkably similar, and she feels the world is finally ready to hear them.

"People are born the way they are born," Valentine said. "We have to embrace it and support it."

You can learn more at the following links:

Los Angeles LGBT Center 

GLAAD Resources

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