Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Nicole Orpen, a South African video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Nicole!
Nicole: Hello Monika, thank you for giving me the opportunity to raise awareness regarding the transgender community.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Nicole: I am now 48, I started my transition late in life. My last year has been the most incredible year of my life! Just prior to my transition, I was probably at my lowest point ever.
Now I am the happiest I have ever been and so so grateful to everyone who has helped me to get here. I still have challenges, but I now look forward to each and every day. I have left a dark grey world and entered one of color and beauty where anything is possible.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Nicole: I spent my entire life thinking there was something wrong with me. I always felt different, but I didn’t know why or what it was. I don’t want other transgender women struggling unnecessarily with what I went through. By raising awareness, hopefully I can help them find themselves much earlier than I did.
|I always wanted to try modelling.|
Nicole: I transitioned when I was 47. I’m now 48. It has been about 17 months since I started. Actually it was on woman’s day 2015 that I finally committed to the process. The process was not difficult, challenging yes, but I had a lot of support from family, friends and colleagues.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed? The only South African icon that I recall is Lauryn Foster…
Nicole: Caitlyn Jenner has been my role model and inspiration. Without her, I don’t think I would ever have had the courage to begin the process. In fact it is my dream to one day meet with her and personally thank her for saving my life.
I didn’t know of Lauryn Foster when I started, but I did reach out to her after starting my transition and she emailed me back, which was so amazing!
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Nicole: Yes, there are quite a few, Sara a YouTube blogger (she goes by SoSara on YouTube) is amazing, she has documented her journey and I was a few months behind her in my process so it was really helpful to follow her.
Nicole Louw is another YouTube blogger here in South Africa who is also pretty amazing too! Caroline Cossey and of course Lauren Foster is also people I admire. There are so many strong and self-assured trans woman out there who I admire and respect.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Nicole: The hardest thing about coming out was admitting to myself that I was transgender. After that, I just knew I had no choice. I had a few scary moments like the first time I went out dressed as a woman, or telling friends and family, but by then it was more of a formality. I now knew who I was, and living that truth gave me the strength to move forward.
|A typical day at the office.|
Pitch is not the most important thing. Enunciation and not speaking a mono tone pitch is almost more important. SoSara has also started a group on Facebook. Mtf voice training. If you are just starting out, I would highly recommend joining that group.
|1 year after beginning my transition.|