Monika: Today’s interview will be with Robyn-Jane, inspirational woman, blogger, transgender artist and leader of the band "Robyn-Jane". Hello Robyn!
Our lyrics are a challenging mix of hard talking about the way T-Girls are treated to sassy hard breakup blues. If guys have ever been mean to me or dumped me; they're in my songs! I also work as an acoustic solo artist playing Folk Chanson tunes with a Transgender flavour.
I'm a woman like any other; my music insists on respect and tolerance through pain and suffering. I guess in that way I fit into a long line of female Jazz/Blues artists from Bessie Smith through Billie Holiday and Etta James to Amy Winehouse. Blues has always been an outlet for deeply feminine suffering; I've chosen to add my own viewpoint as a Trans Woman to all of that.
Monika: Are you familiar with any other transgender musicians or artists?
Robyn: There are so many great transgender artists out there now. I have always been incredibly inspired by the work of Namoli Brennet and Transman; Joe Stevens of the Country/Americana band Coyote Grace.
My blog offers an insight into what it meant to grow up transgendered and how it feels to transition. In my blog I am incredibly open and honest. I give the naked truth. I feel that is important for non trans people to understand what we go through and to offer inspiration to others.
Last year, Paris topped The Independent's 'Pink List' and is one incredible role model for the Trans community. She is now a well known broadcaster and contributor to popular media coverage. It is also worth noting how official attitudes have changed to the point where The Museum of Liverpool is currently holding a major exhibition celebrating the life of Trans woman and model, April Ashley.
In spite of all that attitudes among the public and in the tabloid press are bad. I fear that there is still a high level of ignorance and misunderstanding about what it means to be trans. None of that is good. It still leads to trans women being abused, attacked and victimised.
It also led last year to the highly publicised suicide of British primary teacher Lucy Meadows after she was vilified in the tabloid press and victimised in her local community. Laws will not change people's attitudes; it is up to us all in the LGBT community to tell the real story in order to change hearts and minds.
At the school gate, Julie was introduced to some other girls and ran off to play skipping and Double Dutch in the yard. I was told that boys didn't do things like that and I couldn't join with the girls. I had to play with the boys. I was so upset I played with neither. I will never forget that day: It was a harsh introduction to being forced into a role I hated.
It was as though they had been given official sanction. If my Mum complained the reply was always 'Well boys will be boys'... particularly cruel as I knew that I wasn't one. What saved me and got me through was music and songwriting. On stage I could be me or something approaching it. Without music I don't think I would have made it into adulthood.
The following day I started living full time as a woman... it was like moving from living a monochrome life to one of full colour.
As I came out to other close friends I rapidly realised that they were far more accepting than I had ever hoped. The observation that 'I knew there was something different about you' was a very frequent one. Family were a different matter; it took a long time for them to accept.
I understand now that you are seen as having carried out a deception and mistrust or disbelief becomes the predominant emotion. Eight years later, most family members now accept that this was not a choice and offer more respect yet only friends have apologised for any unkindness they expressed when I first came out.
Surround yourself with others who understand you; make friends in the LGBT community, go to dance classes, get vocal training, read women's magazines and novels, find other natal women to go out and be with, eat, sleep, play and love as the woman you truly are. Most people look at the way you move and walk, your posture, the way you behave and speak and act not at your clothes.
Learn from other women around you the way that a little girl does. A woman who dresses like a man but moves like a woman is still read as female. Be that woman and you will create enough doubt in onlookers minds about who you are. They will go on their way unsuspecting.
For an older TS the work you put in at changing who you are and the way you act move, talk, live and love is a much longer process than surgery itself, be prepared to devote much time and energy to it.
Equality is a much discussed topic but in spite of that the world of being a woman is very different to that of being a man. You will need to accept a new position in society and work it to your advantage. You will need to learn how to flirt, dance, captivate and engage others in a way very different from the way men do.
Paris Lees too, I greatly admire for her tenacity as a journalist and willingness to confront issues head on and in public. I cannot however forget those other Trans role models in my local community; unsung heroines who inspired me, reassured me, supported advised and guided me, without them I would not be here now.
That process took years for me and while I wish it hadn't I'm glad that I reached that point. When I came out that first time to my BFF I could use that conviction and self knowledge to make myself understood and respected. The rest was way easier.
Love is something which I have found difficult. When you grow up a girl inside a male body and are straight there is no way of adequately expressing love. Loving men gets misinterpreted as Gay love, loving women doesn't feel right.
For many years I tried to delude myself into thinking that the admiration for other women was love. It is only since transition that I have been able to fall in love. I am now in a wonderfully fulfilling long term relationship with my boyfriend. It has taken many years for me to truly taste real love and feel the wonder which so many felt as teenagers but it has been worth the wait.
In love I realise now that you will always put everything else on hold for someone you truly love, no matter how impractical or inconvenient. Coming to that realisation has taken so long.
For me personally, being a woman gives me freedom; freedom to be true to myself, to live my life as a whole person, to be recognised for who I really am. Being a woman has given me the wonderful privilege to become a Mum to my daughter who I love so very much.
A good example of this is the forthcoming law enacting equal marriage in the UK. Trans men and women are still being treated unfairly under the proposed legislation and there is pressure on the government to make changes.
With the advent of equal marriage in the UK and the level of debate and support for LGBT issues I'm beginning to wonder. Could change happen that quickly? I think it could. Probably the biggest barrier however is the slow pace of change at giving women in the UK a greater role in politics. That is something that affects us all.
Trans women are women first and foremost, their feelings and aspirations are like everybody else's. It seems intensely cruel and wrong for example to argue that Trans women should be excluded from existing beauty pageants and compete only alongside other Trans women almost as though they are some 'second class' of female personality.
I look forward to the day when these distinctions will be a thing of the past. These days I chose to identify myself as Trans mainly to show solidarity with my Trans sisters and to inspire them. We should never forget however that we are women and deserve to be respected as such.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Having GRS last year and finally finding a rewarding relationship with a man, finding love, setting up a new home and feeling that I have a complete family with myself, my partner and my daughters has been the best gift a girl could ever wish for.
It fulfilled teenage dreams dreamt long ago; ones that I never imagined would come true. I feel like I won the Trans Lottery. It's the best. I can honestly say that I love my life now.