Thursday, 18 July 2013

Interview with Liliana

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Liliana, a young American video blogger from Texas that documents her transition on her vlog on YouTube titled "Sincerely, Liliana". Hello Liliana!
Liliana: Hello Monika! Thank you so much for this opportunity!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Liliana: Well I'm a 23-year-old girl from Texas. I'm a freelance hairstylist/makeup artist and I make beauty as well as transition videos on YouTube.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Liliana: Well I remember back when I was still in the early stages of my transition I stumbled across a few trans women who were documenting their transition on YouTube. At the time I was feeling very alone, and even though I had such amazingly supportive friends and family, it was hard to talk to them about the things I was going through. So I turned to these women's videos and it really helped me get through those rough times.
Now that I'm in a comfortable stage in my life and transition I want to try and be that support for someone else. I feel it's important for us to be open and honest and educate the world about what being transgender really means, and YouTube is a great platform for that.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Liliana: I've been on hormones for 5 years, and I feel very comfortable with where I'm at in my transition right now. I do plan on maybe getting a few cosmetic procedures in the near future, but that is something I am still deciding on. I'm terrified of going under the knife!
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Liliana: I am very satisfied, however, my hormone therapy wasn't such a smooth ride. I had a health scare about a year ago because of my hormones but luckily everything turned out alright. I think sometimes people don't take hormones so seriously and get impatient about it. If you want a good and healthy transition you need a doctor's supervision! 

Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Liliana: I had a lot of good times and also a lot of very dark times as a child. I was always a very feminine, bubbly, and energetic kid. I spent most of my time with my grandma, and when I was alone I spent my time drawing. I remember I was also always thinking about my future and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be everything from an architect, to an actor, to even Britney Spears.
Once I got to 2nd - 3rd grade I began getting bullied verbally and psychically because I was so feminine, and it changed me forever. I became extremely shy and hardly ever talked, began to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, and was even suicidal. I tried acting more masculine and tried my hardest to fit in but it never really worked. I eventually just started expressing myself through fashion and then eventually makeup, and through all of that, I found myself.
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?
Liliana: Most of the discrimination I faced was prior to my transition. Most of my bullying/discrimination happened to me as a child. I am very lucky to have not had to deal with very much discrimination after my transition.
Of course, I've had, and still occasionally get rude people who feel the need to say negative and hurtful things, but at this point in my life, I don't let it bother me. I'm living my life 100% the way I want to, and following my dreams, not very many people can say that.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Liliana: There has definitely been a few transgender women who have inspired me. I remember seeing the very beautiful Maria Roman, and Erica Andrews on a talk show 5 years ago. This was before I knew anything about being transgender and transitioning. I remember watching that episode in awe. I was so amazed at how beautiful they all looked and after hearing their stories I knew that this was what I had been dealing with my whole life.
I felt my life come full circle and I felt inspired and shortly after began my own transition. Most recently I've also really admired Carmen Carrera's bravery with transitioning so publicly and her commitment to ending discrimination towards transgender women.

"When people think of transgender women they quickly jump to what
trashy talk shows have made transgender women out to be. It's not reality."

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Liliana: I wasn't nervous to come out to my family because they've all always been really laid back and open-minded, and had many gay and lesbian friends.
I think the hardest part for me was after coming out, and feeling I needed to meet certain social expectations and act/dress overly girly to be taken seriously.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society? 
Liliana: I think we've come a long way, but still have several more obstacles to get through. I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions and negative stereotypes about transgender women. When people think of transgender women they quickly jump to what trashy talk shows have made transgender women out to be. It's not reality.
I think seeing more transgender women in the media and girls like us who share our stories online will hopefully start breaking down those preconceived ideas and will show the world who we really are.
Monika: Do you think that in our lifetime we could live until the day when a transgender lady could become the President of the USA?
Liliana: I don't see why not. If we keep pushing forward, continue to share our stories, and educate, anything can happen.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Liliana: I love fashion. I actually also wanted to be a fashion designer when I was little. I use to sketch little outfits out and even attempted to sew a dress out of my grandma's curtains! I love expressing myself through my clothing or my makeup so my style is always changing. I like an edgy laid back feel. I love leather jackets and edgy jewelry pieces.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Liliana: Sadly, no. I do see myself getting involved later on in my life. I've always wanted to work with LGBT teens whose parents have turned their backs on them. I was very lucky and I'm very aware that not everyone has supportive parents so I want to give back and do my part to make sure those kids don't ever feel alone.
Monika: Do you intend to get married and have a family? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Liliana: Of course I do. I've been with my boyfriend for 3 years already and we act like an elderly married couple! We are parents to 2 dogs. We plan to someday have a huge ranch and adopt many more dogs... and maybe a kid or two.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Liliana: Pay no mind to negative people, and do what's best for you. People will always talk and pass judgment. Just remember that everyone is living their lives the way they want to, and you deserve the same.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years? 
Liliana: At the moment I am working on my freelancing career as a hair and makeup artist, and plan to continue making my videos on YouTube and hope I can inspire just one person by sharing my story. In the next 5-7 years I see myself running a successful salon and hopefully still doing something to help inspire and change the world.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Liliana: I am a very happy woman. It's been such a long bumpy road getting here, but I wouldn't change anything.
Monika: Liliana, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!

All the photos: courtesy of Liliana.
© 2013 - Monika Kowalska  

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