Monday, 25 March 2013

Interview with Jasmina von Leeds

Monika: Today I am taking you to Hannover in Germany where my guest lives. Jasmina von Leeds is a beauty stylist, YouTuber, singer, and actress from Germany. She appeared in such German TV series and shows as 'Köln 50667', 'Barbara Salesch', 'Niedrig und Kuhnt', and 'Berlin Tag und Nacht'. Hello Jasmina!
Jasmina: Hello Monika! Thanks for having me I feel very honored.

Monika: What do you prefer more: acting or singing?
Jasmina: It depends but I would say at the moment singing. I'm working really hard at my voice at the moment, getting a lot of singing lessons because this is what I want to do: singing in clubs. I really enjoy doing that and my other baby at the moment is my YouTube Channel: "Jasmina von Leeds". I love making videos about my life, giving beauty tips, talk about topics. This and my singing career are my biggest projects at the moment.

Monika: Could you elaborate on your acting career so far?
Jasmina: I played some roles in German soap operas and did realty stuff on TV. It was OK but I would love to play in a real movie. Maybe a dramatic part as a transwoman. What I did till now wasn't difficult or really creative in my opinion.
At a charity event in 2012.
Monika: Do you have any actresses that inspire you while acting?
Jasmina: There are a lot of them. I was always inspired by actresses that did both singing and acting, such as Cher, Kylie Minogue or Jennifer Lopez; and, of course, my biggest Idol is Marilyn Monroe. The old movie stars of that time did always both singing and acting.
But the best actress of all time, in my opinion, is Romy Schneider! She was so stunning in her movies. Sometimes it is scary how profoundly she acts especially in her French movies from the '70s. They are breathtaking!
Monika: What kind of songs do you sing yourself?
Jasmina: At the moment I sing cover songs from an electro music DJ. They are about love, party, and fun. I love this kind of music and I hope to make my own songs someday with a DJ or music producer.
Monika: You are a beautiful woman. Do you think that your beauty gives you extra power in everyday situations? 
Jasmina: Oh thank you! Well, of course, it helped me a lot especially during all my daily routines as a woman, but sometimes I think that people only accept me because I look female and that makes me sad because how it would be if I did not look like this? In my opinion, we should all love and respect each other, no matter how we look.
Monika: Where did you grow up?
Jasmina: I grew up in Germany in a town called Hanover, which is the capital city of the federal state named Lower Saxony.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Jasmina: I always felt that something was wrong. Not at my earliest childhood memories because at this time I didn't know that there were boys or girls. I felt free and loved but when I started to go to kindergarten I realized that I was different because I acted like a girl but they called me a boy. At that time the big sadness (which I call it today) started to come over me.
Monika: For most transgender girls, the most traumatic time is the time spent at school, college, or university when they had to face lots of discrimination. Was it the same in your case?
Jasmina: Yes, absolutely! It was horrible; especially my high school times. I was a boy but I looked more like a girl and did not have a lot of friends. I was an outsider and people treated me like that. I also did not like myself, my body, everything. It was such a difficult time.
I don't know how I survived it but I forgive all the people which gave me a hard time because I don't know what happened in their lives at that time. I think we all have been hurt sometimes, but last year I found the biggest gift in this world: God (Jesus). He came to me and healed that painful time and gave me the power to forgive all those people because God forgave me all the mistakes I made in my life that helped me a lot. 

Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman? Was it a difficult process? Did you have any support from your family or friends?
Jasmina: I started taking hormones when I was 17. I must say I was lucky with everything. I grew up with a very lovely family which always supported me. My transition was an easy process. At some time it felt difficult but now I can see how much luck I had. So I must thank God for this.

At interview about her 2012 holidays in Ibiza
for the German TV.

Monika: Transgender ladies are subject to the terrible test whether they pass as a woman or they do not. You are a beautiful woman yourself but how about other transgender ladies that have to struggle every day to pass? What would you recommend to them?
Jasmina: I admire all these women. They are so strong! They have my full respect. I had it easy because I always looked not so masculine.
I started my transition young; I lived at the right time, had good surgeons, as well as the chance and money to do many surgeries. I made my story public because I always dreamed of being a star.
When I was young I found stories of transwomen very inspiring and I also wanted to do that. So people know that I'm transsexual and I also have a situation when they look at me, talk about me so I can understand their feelings but I think I want to say even if there is nobody that loves you and accept you there is someone that will always love and care about you and that is God. We are all his children, no matter which sex we are or want to be!
Monika: We are living in times of modern cosmetic surgery that might allow transitioning even in the late 50s or 60s. Do you think it is really possible? What kind of advice do you have for transgender ladies at such an age?
Jasmina: Just do it! It is your life! Do everything that makes you happy. It's never too late!
Monika: At that time of your transition did you have any transgender role models that you could follow? What was your knowledge about transgenderism?
Jasmina: When I was young I told my mum about my feelings. She said to me that there is a surgery which can make a man into a woman. That was the first time I heard something like this and I wanted to do that.
Then in 1998, I saw the first transsexual ever. It was Dana International. It was fascinating. She was so beautiful and looked like a normal woman. When I saw her I knew that I could be the same one day.

On a normal German cold day.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Jasmina: Well, my coming out was not so difficult because my parents knew about my feelings and I did not have friends at that time.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Jasmina: Love is the biggest gift we have. Like I said before, last year I found God or he came to me and showed me his endless love. I'm so thankful for what Jesus did for me. He died for me so I could live. That's real love and through him, I can have this wonderful relationship with God.
Don't take me wrong. This is not about religion or going to church. It's about the love which the creator of this world has for everyone and now I can really understand how important love is and I'm thankful for my wonderful life, family, boyfriend, and friends which I have.
Monika: What do you enjoy most in being a woman?
Jasmina: Everything! I'm a full-time woman in my heart. It has become a strange question for me because I have been living so long as a woman.

Singing at a party with 6 dancers, December 2012.

Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in Germany?
Jasmina: First I must say I'm lucky to have been born in a country like Germany. The health insurance here helps transsexuals a lot. It paid for my hormones, my therapy, my sex change, and also some cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation; and they accept us as normal women. We can get married and our passports confirm that we are women. But of course, I also get criticized by people that don't understand why I did that.
But what makes me really sad is that I also do get some criticism from other transsexual people that think I don't act like a real woman; that I go to gay clubs, have gay friends, and love to be part of the gay community. But I must say I see myself more like a gay artist. Of course, I'm different but they understand my situation and they are always nice to me.
For many years I have been trying to be accepted by straight people but I realized I don't need their acceptance. I am what I am and I like myself. And I don't care if people see me as a man or woman or whatever. First of all, I'm a human being and we should all love and respect each other no matter how we live.
Monika: We are witnessing more and more transgender ladies coming out in the USA. Unlike in the previous years, some of them have the status of celebrities or are really well-known, just to mention Lana Wachowski in film-directing, Jenna Talackova in modeling, Kate Bornstein in academic life, Laura Jane Grace in music or Candis Cayne in acting. Do you witness the same trend in Germany?
Jasmina: At the moment not. I'm working to become even more famous and work more on television but it's difficult because most people just see the fact that I'm a transsexual. I think it's harder for us.

Shot from her YouTube Channel.

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns or activities? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Jasmina: Well not so much. I'm interested in what happens in my country and in the world and of course, I always vote in elections.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants? Have you ever thought about participating in such a pageant?
Jasmina: Well no. This is not my thing. I think we are all beautiful. We don't need stuff like this. :)
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Jasmina: Well during the week I work for a big German fashion brand which also has a lot of shops in Europe and around the world so I have to do with fashion. I like fashion but I don't care so much about it or trends. I just wear what I like; sometimes vintage like the Dita von Teese pin-up style or a romantic style; then crazy or sexy. It depends on my mood and what I'm interested in at that particular time.

"Jasmina von Leeds" Channel.

Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Jasmina: A little but I wished I would be more involved but at the moment I'm more into the gay community but there are also many transsexuals.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Jasmina: Yes, but I also have to deal with the adventures of life like everybody else.
Monika: Jasmina, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Jasmina von Leeds.
© 2013 - Monika Kowalska

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