Lou Stoppard: My first question is sports-related: you're an athlete and I wanted to ask how you got involved in sport.
Cookie Keedz: I started ages ago in primary school, my brother was in the choir and the choir teacher noticed he was quite athletic, so she influenced him to go and train at the track. My mum was like, 'well, someone's got to travel with him', so my brother, sister and I all went and did kids clubs. From there I progressed into my own disciplines; sprints, 400m. It's been about 9-10 years now.
LS: Has it been quite central to your appearance and how you like to dress and present yourself?
CK: I think how I dress really has no relation towards athletics or anything else. It's just what I feel comfortable in but I do take pride in my body. I'm very keen on trying to stay toned, even though it's not going as well this year! Hopefully I'll get more definition and move forward in my athletics.
LS: Why do you take so much pride in your physique and body?
CK: I think it's because my whole family is quite fit and I've always believed in taking care of yourself. There's no need to be too over or under weight if you're in the right body, and you're healthy and you're fit, you can also help your mind and how you go about things.
LS: How do you find people respond to your body, do you find people have positive reactions to it?
CK: As a sprinter I'm quite big. I've put on more muscular weight, sprinters are usually more toned and lean, especially the women, but in public people can definitely see my back is quite broad and I've got wider shoulder and bigger arms. Some people embrace it, and go, 'wow you're muscle man big.' Others will think it's not right as obviously I'm a woman and I should be a bit more softer and petite. But to be honest, everyone grows differently, so if you like it then I appreciate it and if not that's your own opinion and I understand.
LS: So you've never felt a pressure to conform to girly expectations?
CK: No but I think within my family, when we had little parties when I was younger I'd probably wear a dress, which is something I wouldn't particularly pick myself. But as I get older, I make my own decisions and even if I were required to dress a bit feminine, I don't put gender on clothing. I have a formal/informal when I dress but I wouldn't say that I would dress feminine one day and masculine another. To me it's just dressing as myself so I couldn't really tell you if it's too masculine or feminine or not.
LS: It's interesting you say that you don't put gender on clothing; do you tend not to think about gender very much at all?
CK: No I don't at all, when I read the description of Studs, which said a third gender, I found it quite interesting because I was thinking that I first of all see myself as a human, then a woman, and then, whatever it is, Butch - that's a label that we're given. To others maybe I'm more masculine or a manly looking woman, more this or that. I wouldn't look too deep into it as it wouldn't matter, this is the person I am and everyone seems to be happy with it and if they're not then I don't know them and they don't say shit with me. Again, I don't really pay much attention to it.
LS: Do you find labels quite an annoying thing and do you find people trying to classify you as either masculine or feminine or even just particularly terminology like you mentioned, like Butch. Do you find that frustrating or do you embrace that?
CK: When I first heard about labels, I tended to kind of embrace it. So when I first heard about Studs for instance, I was like, 'oh, ok that narrows it down,' and I'd say Stud. But not everyone knows what a Stud is, and if you have to describe it, it feels like you're fitting into a label that everyone else is and it makes you not feel individual and I don't feel unique anymore. I'd happily go around saying I've got Stud and Femme friends, because there's a label onto everything, just as there's homosexuals and heterosexuals, everyone's got a label. It just depends on how you use it. I've never really been upset if someone said look at that Stud or Butch, because that's the category I fit under. It'd be a bit odd if someone said, 'oh look at that feminine girl.'
LS: How do you define Studs? What is a Stud to you?
CK: A Stud would be the lesbian term for tomboy, because if you were a Butch - when I say Butch I mean wear mens attire - if you did that and were straight, you'd probably be just seen as having tomboy traits. But once you say you dress like that and you're homosexual then you fall into the category as a Stud, which also can mean a more dominant person. I've heard some Americans say it can be the aggressor in the relationship, not in an aggressive way but the person who wears the trousers if you were in a straight relationship. So the description of Stud can vary. People can say, 'oh that's just a girl who shaves her head and walks with a bop.' To me it's deeper than that.
LS: When did you become aware of your sexuality and your sexual preferences?
CK: I don't think about it a lot. When I think back to past experiences, or how I felt towards females and males, I just see as it as being temporarily straight. Then I found myself saying, 'hey you're allowed to feel this way about women and look at them in that way.' Obviously it's not accepted by everyone, but I'm a very strong-minded person myself and if it's something I believe in, I'd literally go for it and die for it. And if it's something I don't believe in, then I'd just have to live with it. Either way, I think that I didn't fight it, I just experimented, but very quietly, with it. Then when I became about 16 - so only two years ago - I started dating girls and started to know how it feels to be more intimate with a woman. It always helps as well on the first kiss, you realise it's much better than with a guy so you realise that's what you prefer.
LS: You seem very comfortable with yourself, from your sexuality to your personality and appearance. Has that always been the way or have you struggled with that
CK: I only ever struggled when I was going to those little family parties, according to my sister and mother - who are biased - I looked pretty in a dress, and they'd say, 'hey why don't you put on a dress anymore?' And I'd say, 'come on guys. It doesn't fit me.' But in their heads it does, so during those times I was probably most uncomfortable. But at the moment, to me everything just falls into place. I buy my own clothes, I feel comfortable, I do my own things. Everything's separate though, like the sexuality and athletics and how I look. It can be seen as related and that they influence each other, but really they are separate things that I just get on with and that make me feel happy.
LS: You use an alternate name rather than your birth name, where did that come from, is that an alter ego?
CK: Keedz is like a nickname. Keedz is what family would say, and Cookie is just what I got from high school, because I had a group of friends and we were mucking about and I love food so it just fell into place. Cookie Keedz is what I go along with.
LS: Do you think about the future and whether you'll change as a person or do you think you'll always have the ideas you have now?
CK: I think everyone changes and grows, every time people ask what I think about the future, I'm always open minded and I'm always telling people, straight girls and whatever, trying to bring them to my side, that you've got to think about it as a spectrum. Someone can be so right-handed but then change all the way to the other side, so I don't think this is a temporary thing, I think I'll happily stay gay lesbian forever. But if, for instance, I turn 50 and there's a man pursuing me for whatever reason he feels he has to pursue me, and I fall in love in him then I don't want anyone to turn around and say I'm a hypocrite or two-faced because I've been gay all my life and then this happens. Because no one knows what will happen in the future and I really do think that once you've gone past the physicalities and appearance of a person, it really depends on who's around you and how people influence you, and that's how it changes you as a person.
LS: Do you ever get frustrated with other women either of your age or just women in general, when you look at some of the ways they dress or the things they worry about? Does it ever annoy you, especially when some women are very concerned about their appearance or getting boyfriends or…?
CK: Well, I might have grown up very quickly, or I've attempted to grow up really quickly. So if, for instance, when I see girls my age, even girls that I hang with - like Studs for instance - and I see them all dressed in the same swag and same trends, it is a bit like, 'embrace yourself, don't be this label, don't dress as what people think you need to dress as!' It isn't frustrating though, but I do wish people would just be themselves. I know, like in the photo-shoot at SHOWstudio, everyone could be themselves and everyone had their own character and personality and no one was trying to be that Stud that no one is. But it can't frustrate me because everyone learns from it, so good luck to them.