Tell us a little bit about yourself… who really is Billie Lee?
“I am a trans activist reality star, I guess I’m famously known for being on Vanderpump Rules. I’m from a small town in Indiana and I went through a really difficult journey of discovering my trans experience—loving myself even through all the judgment and rejection of society. I really try to shed light on trans issues as I am a board member on Equality California and the Aids Health Foundation. I see a lot of suffering and it’s very easy for us all to be distracted by social media. I feel like that’s my mission now—to get people’s attention about the trans community.”
What was your dream job growing up?
“Honestly, retail! I wanted to work at Gap so bad. It was my dream job when I was 16–not career necessarily, but, like, my dream job while I was in school. So I was always in Gap being like ‘y’all just need to hire me’. I always had little dream jobs, but the ultimate goal was to have my own talk show. And I think it’s now finally happening. But since I was like five I wanted to have my own talk show!”
If you could talk to 10 year old Billie, what would you say?
“I would just say you are so loved. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful and you are perfect just the way you are. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently. Just keep believing in yourself, keep manifesting because thoughts are everything. Our thoughts create our reality, you know? Having positive thoughts is really important and to be here right now in Los Angeles looking around my brand new apartment and having the career that I have and the voice that I have, I would just tell my ten-year-old self don’t stress your going to be so proud.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a trans woman?
“I started off in a small town and it was really difficult for me to be who I was. I remember that my mom would say I would always want to go home crying from school saying that I was too feminine for my boy body. I was misdiagnosed with childhood depression, OCD, and possibly gay. We didn’t have the word “trans” back then because this was almost 20 some years ago.
So I was just constantly told I was “wrong” and my parents were just trying to protect me. They didn’t understand themselves, and they saw that I was being bullied so much so they just wanted me to be like a “boy”—they really forced me to be like a boy which brought on a lot of shame. It was really, really, difficult for me to love myself. When I moved to Los Angeles, I had the freedom of owning who I was. I had the mindset of just discovering who I was. And I met this amazing guy at this random bar one night and as I was telling my story, and he said “Sweetie, you’re trans!” and a light bulb went off in my head! I planted that seed and it grew into this amazing beautiful flower, which is now my life.
It was really difficult, though. I had to do a lot of ceremonies and I went on this whole spiritual journey of really loving myself letting go of the shame. Letting go of all the things that kids told me like I was “faggot” or a “queer” and a “sissy”, things that my dad told me was wrong. We hold on to these little things as a kid and we identify with them and it creates tension and stress and depression and it was really nice to let that go. But then once I let that go I had all these surgeries and then I blended in society. I kind of hid away for a few years and just enjoyed my life. I had a lot of opportunities and I just took advantage of everything. And then I realized that my community is still suffering really bad and I needed to speak up, I saw my brothers and sisters really suffering. So I had to speak up and that started my whole activism career.”
Who in your life have been a supportive role for you and why?
“My teachers have been so supportive. They saved me when I was little because my parents had me when they were kids basically at age sixteen, seventeen. They had their own alcohol addiction problems and my teacher saw me suffering. They saw this little boy who had anger issues and who was depressed and they really took me underneath their wing saved my life. And my mom now is really supportive. My dad is in prison, but he’s very supportive. I have an amazing, beautiful supportive group of friends in Los Angeles who are my chosen family.”
Who helps you get to where you are now?
“Wow, I have these crazy angels like Doug, the owner of Evolution. He had a really amazing group of friends. They all are these activists that were really big activist in the 80’s and 90’s and they kind of had taken me underneath their wing. Also Marcia Lansdown, who leads VH1 Vicon, and Maria Celleia, she is my producing partner. They all have just taken me underneath their wing and they see the activism in me. They just love me and they give me so much and they helped me—they connect me to people and now I have this huge team who loves supports me. Yeah, I have a lot of people who have stepped up. I think that they all kind of see the mission, and the mission is to be visible to help other people.”
How was your spirituality affected your view on life?
“Oh my god—It’s everything! Perception is everything. Spirituality helped me understand the power of perception in our thoughts. Changing your thoughts or your perception from fear to love is a miracle. I grew up in a place of fear, I was very scared of people. I was scared to connect with men. I had to look people in their eyes and I had to work on my love, changing my perception from fear to love. And it also helped me love the boy I used to be and not hold any shame for who I used to be. It helped me create ceremonies that have literally changed my life. So spiritually is everything for me.”
What are some practices you do to strengthen your spirituality?
“Yoga meditations are probably one of the top things I practice. Gratitude journals are everything, it really helps raise your vibration. So you can attract abundance. And I would have to say cacao ceremonies—any kind of ceremony that will help me set intention, be mindful, and really love myself through this experience. And intention really does create amazing things.”
If you have dinner with one person dead or alive, who would that be?
“Oh my god—Oprah Winfrey! It’s funny because she always says when people in their 30’s are like, breaking down, bawling hysterically when they meet her, she’s like, ‘I understand, I understand, I raised you’. And she really did! She was on my TV every single day at four o’clock, and to be shamed for being different than everyone around me, I loved people who were different. And I would watch her every single day, not only would she inspired me, but I loved how different she was. I was grew up with all white —there was no one of color in my hometown! And I loved the color of her skin. I loved everything about her! And it really inspired me to love people that are different than me instead of shaming people that are different. So I feel like she raised me! Sometimes she was the only light that I had in my life, the only person I had to look up to and she helped inspire me with my career and tell my truth and be open and honest. So I think one day I will meet her, I hope, it seems like it’s going to happen because I’m really good at manifesting things.”
What is it like being on a reality TV show like Vanderpump rules?
“It’s like a rollercoaster ride. I’m so grateful for the experience. I’m so grateful that a trans woman is on TV and she’s visible. Last season we got to see me go on a date. Like, there’s a lot of great things, but I have to say that it was really a very difficult time for me. I think anyone who starts a new job, anyone who enters a new group of friends, it’s a challenge! Especially a group of friends that thrive on being mean girls that are very close and tight-knot. I felt like I was in high-school again, basically. And it was just really stressful for meat the same time. I have to say—this season was really hard for me, I can’t talk a lot of positive things about it. But I can say in a positive way that I am very grateful for Lisa. She’s always been by my side helping me. And I love the fact that she’s given me so many opportunities. And I love Bravo for having a trans woman on their network.”
What are your favorite ALEX AND ANI symbols and why?
“That one’s a hard one! First of all, I love the Game of Thrones collection. I started watching Game of Thrones again, because the whole world was watching it even though I was a little disappointed in the last two episodes. But I really, really liked those bracelets. The All You Need Is Love campaign, of course is one of my favorites. I wear those all the time and I really do believe all you need this love. And then I’m really big into astrology. So even when I’m on a date or hanging out with someone new, one of my first questions is ‘what’s your sign?’. So I feel like everyone should be wearing a tag that has their symbol on it. But yeah, those are my favorite!”
Lastly, how do you feel being the official ambassador for ALEX AND ANI?
“First of all, I’m honored. And I’m so grateful that you guys give such a platform and a voice to someone of trans experience. I think that is really, really powerful. And I’m just super grateful for that. Also, pride is like the one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever been part of. I was just at Long Beach pride and it was so magical.
I remember my first pride ever in Los Angeles, I was so nervous to go. And I’m not really the best with crowds, but I was just nervous in general! I remember walking through Los Angeles pride crying of tears of joy. And I rarely cry tears of joy! I’m an emotional person, but usually it’s rare for me to be hysterically crying because I’m so happy. I remember walking through and everyone was pouring out all this love. I felt this overwhelming, powerful feeling of love and acceptance that I’ve never felt before in my entire life. And I will always hold pride very close to my heart and it’s a very important time for me. Fast forward now and I’m in the Long Beach pride on a convertible with Equality California. Just driving through, I start to cry because of this overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance, like everyone’s coming out holding their flag. Everyone is smiling and laughing. Everyone’s having a good time. It’s a space to really be your authentic self—to shine to be proud. So to be an ambassador, and to be part of the ALEX AND ANI Pride Campaign is magical. It’s an honor and I’m very, very grateful. And I’m very blessed to be a part of this! And when I wear their bracelet, it’s the power of love and the power of being proud of who you are and accepting who you are, and accepting others for who they are! And that’s what I plan on doing when I wear it and when I discuss it and share this journey of wearing this pride bracelet. It means love and acceptance and being proud of who you are. And I’m very grateful for that.”