Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Kristina Ferarri, a Serbian artist, model, dancer, and TV celebrity. Hello Kristina!
Kristina: Hi there! ;)
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kristina: What to say what the world doesn’t know? :) I was born and raised in a small town in the east of the country. I left my family home at the age of 16 and moved on to my grandmother’s house.
Now more or less I live alone for one decade in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. This city offered me stability and few more options to fulfill my dreams and start the transition of my life. So I found myself as a striptease dancer at the age of 21. This was a beginning of my journey.
Kristina: Acting or singing sounds nice... I am an artistic soul in many variations. And it’s never to late to go after your dreams, but sometimes I feel like I missed that train. I needed much time for myself, and for the whole story about becoming a woman also physically. But don’t be surprised seeing me in a music project soon ;)
|Behind the scenes of the "Echo" video.|
Kristina: In big countries like America I am sure I could make a big thing with my strip performances. But till now I always postponed this, to travel so faraway for business. And at the end I only regret it. In Serbia I worked for many years as a dancer, we have nice clubs here... but the market for this kind of business is not well developed here, so I could not make a big story out of it. The other thing is – I am a transgender woman.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in the Serbian society?
Kristina: The consciousness of the people is changing with the time. It’s not perfect I can say, but it’s getting better as the time is passing by. It is due to the work of the human rights organizations.
Monika: At what age did you transition into woman yourself? Was it a difficult process?
Kristina: I started my hormone therapy when I was 21, and after two years I was ready for a complete change, a sex change surgery. But I waited two years more for a perfect moment. So I did it, at the age of 24. I decided - now or never! And yes, it was very painful and also patience requiring for all the good results I waited for to come during the whole process. It is a hardcore thing to do.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Kristina: It is an interesting question, but I must reformulate it. I had them, we all did. But mine were not trangender people, because at that time I didn’t know much about that world. I watched some T movies as a child on the TV from the 80’s,vbut I just found it cool. As a child you don’t understand it that way that grown up people do.
There was something else, that helped me to move on in my life. I always liked music very much, my parents are also very musical. I grew up with the music of Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder…all the brilliant voices. And all of them had a story to tell, a life experience, love wrapped in lyrics which taught me in what to believe. So I started to understand my nature. I learned a language of love, and that was the thing I needed the most back then.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Kristina: For the first, comes of course the first one, my big inspiration and my namesake, Christine Jorgensen. It all started with her, back in autumn of 1952. The years to come after that, brought big changes, a true revolution, in human rights issues, which especially, for me, means – Stonewall! Sylvia Rivera is, thus a notable person in my life and someone I deeply respect.
I also am a fan of recently passed away transgender working class hero, Leslie Feinberg. Now that is history, but in the present times, we, transgender folks also have activists worthy of respect, like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock in global sense, and a number of trans ladies that I know myself here in Serbia, who are activists on a local level.
Kristina: The fear about my own safety… and loneliness too…
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in Serbian films, newspapers or books so far?
Kristina: Not a lot of trans characters were featured in Serbian art works – if you don’t count underground legend Merlinka, a murdered transvestite prostitute who was back while still alive, impersonating herself in Zelimir Zilnik’s films, it’s only one film that comes to my mind – it’s title translates as “Escobar’s obituary” and it focuses on a story of “Serbian Escobar”, a big mafia boss discovering that his girlfriend is transgender and undergoing a personality change due to that.
|She got her own wall graffiti on the building she lives.|
There is a lot to do still. Transgender characters here are still victims of stereotypes in mainstream culture or victims of relative anonymity in queer culture.
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities. Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Kristina: Yes and no. People say there is a lot of jealousy between the “letters” so the T letter split this year from the rest.
Monika: Is there anyone in the Serbian transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the USA in the 60s and 70s for the gay activism?
Kristina: Well, unfortunately no. We have a gay person with a sense of importance in politics, activist and important figure in the Socialist party, Boris Milicevic. But transgender, nope. We are still pretty much in closet and a big taboo for the public. It’s a thing with the Balkans, we are a limping dog on a leash of Western world.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Kristina: I am not active in politics and in mainstream campaigns. I am active in media and I think that we, trans women, can make a difference by being ourselves and showing the world how normal we actually are. I am an activist on my own and in my own way, helping real trans people in real life problems.
|Photo-shooting for her new 2015 calendar - April photo.|
There must be somebody in this world who will love me for who I am and accept me in the same time the way I am. Love is everywhere you just need to sense it. And if the right person comes one day, I am ready...
And like the title says, I am asking myself through the song, what did I do to myself and how did I get here after so much of struggling and fighting... then I pray to God at the end to save me and show me the right way. I wanted to do it in English, because I found the music in one movie… and saw myself right there like in the mirror. I said to myself, I must have it, I must become a part of this song.
All the photos: courtesy of Kristina Ferarri.