Thursday 15 August 2013

Interview with Christina Warburton

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Christina Warburton, a young American video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Christina!
Christina: Hello Monika, It is a privilege to speak with you today. I feel very honored to be looked at as an Idol.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Christina: Sure, I was born in Liverpool, England, moved to Philadelphia, PA when I was 10 years old. As for me currently, I’m a 35-year-old MTF, who is a proud parent of 3 children. I’m really no one special, I’m an average blue-collar worker that works for a landscaping company.
I pay my taxes, bills, go to work every day, and do the same things as everyone else, despite what some people would tend to try to make everyone believe. I am also a musician, I have been playing bass since high school, and am an avid video gamer and general techie.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube? 
Christina: I had several reasons why I did this. The first reason was to show my progress, as to keep a journal of my journey. My other main reason for sharing my transition, and this was probably the more important reason, was to perform a service in several aspects.
As I previously stated, I am no one special, and many people’s transition videos I have seen in the past had inspired me and helped me realize that even in my financial situation, I could transition, and I could be happy.
I wanted my videos to be an inspiration to other people in the same situation. If it was wasn’t for the other videos on YouTube, I honestly can’t say I would have ever had the courage to transition.
I remember when I first started to come out, looking through transition videos, and unfortunately, most of the ones I found were people that transitioned a lot younger than I even was at the time. There weren’t too many middle-aged people out there that had videos out there putting themselves and their transitions out into the public eye.
I think the last reason, is the Trans* community needs exposure as much as possible, if we are ever to be seen as equals in the societies we live in and the only way we will ever get to this point is for us to put ourselves out there.
In reality, the more Trans* people that will put themselves out like that, then people one day may see that the stereotypes about Trans* people are wrong and that we are normal people that just want to live their lives and be happy, just like everyone else.

Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Christina: I’m about 9 months on HRT, on both Estrogen and on anti-androgens. I am not full-time as of yet, although I am working to get to that point by mid-next year. The main reason for that is my work situation.
In all honesty, if I could go full-time tomorrow, I would in a heartbeat. But with my current job, the transition is not an option. So it comes down to money, or being happy, however, I do have a family to help support and transition costs money, in fact, everything costs money, so while I am well on my path to happiness, I try to be smart about every move I make and make a few temporary sacrifices to be able to advance in my transition. 
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Christina: I am. I think if anything else, I’m a little ahead of the curve on the scale of the standard timeline of HRT. I have had really good results I feel in the physical development, I have decent breast development, nice hip development, and facial changes, in fact, I find it harder and hard to pass as male when I am in guy mode, though I still have a quite a ways to go before I see the final result of Hormones, which really I can’t wait to see.
As far as emotional changes, there have been a few, I’m generally a lot calmer than before, I cry very easily, but the greatest change is I now can actually smile. Not like before HRT where I had to force a smile.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Christina: I thought, originally, I was about 14, about the time I was hitting puberty. I remember just feeling so out of place as I developed and became more masculine, that something was wrong with me, however, I realized more recently that these feelings go far back pretty much as far as I remember, I remember being in a playgroup and I kept trying to play with the dolls, making little dresses for my action figures out of tin foil.
I also remember, how I used to hide from this out in public even at a young age but being repulsed by anything feminine. I remember being 8 years old and my Mom gave me a Minnie Mouse Glass, and would refuse to drink out of it, I also remember a few times refusing to ride a girl’s style bike, even back then I knew, however, I didn’t know. Because I even remember wanting to ride that bike, but I was afraid of what everyone would think, of being found out. But I didn’t know at that time who I truly was.

Volunteering at the Philadelphia Trans*
Health Conference 2013.

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?
Christina: I was severely bullied during school. I was always different than everyone else. Although, I put on an act to try to fit in, even early on in my school career, which even if my parents were understanding, would have prohibited me from coming out.
If I knew who I really was, I been beaten up, even to the point of having a concussion, knocked out in a hallway once while walking to class, had my head forced into a toilet bowl as they flushed it repeatedly.
However the bullying didn’t stop with the students, I had issues with teachers as well, they would single me out when I was in catholic school, telling me that I was in league with the devil. I was going to burn in hell by the nuns, got detention for 6 hours one day, and even had my math teacher smash my calculator and laugh about it. My school life was really a living hell.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Christina: Kristin Beck would be one. For the main fact that her coming out in public was a great thing for the Trans* community. I mean she is a national hero that came out as Trans.* You can ever put a negative spin on that.
I also do follow Brooke Addison, for the reason that she is very inspirational, and she just a great person, and Mina Caputo. Mina may not be as famous as the others, but she used to be the lead singer of the band Life of Agony before she came out as trans*, which I loved their music. And now she does solo work and is super talented.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Christina: Telling people I care about. There is a very real chance for everyone you tell that they will walk out of your life forever, and really every time I came out to someone I cared about, I think my heart was pounding through my chest.
I won’t lie and say my coming out has been painless, as it has not, as I have lost my wife in the capacity of being my Significant Other. However, we have remained friends, though it is very hard for her to deal with.
The hardest is yet to come, and that is to tell my parents. There are reasons why I can’t tell them right now, but it will happen, and I can only imagine that when I do that will be the last time I talk to them…
Promo Shot for Christina's
Band Disillusioned Purity.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Christina: Our present situation is not a really great one at this point. It is very easy for a Trans* person to be discriminated against, very few states actually have laws that protect the rights of Trans* people and this is very saddening and distressing.
I Feel Trans* people are, for the most part, treated like lesser citizens, that we don’t deserve the same rights as everyone else.
In fact, being Trans* and out at times and be very VERY dangerous. There is a certain amount of ignorance towards Trans* people and with ignorance come ignorant people, which can cause very dangerous if not deadly situations for us.
So we have a very long way to go, I believe, however, once we obtain true equality, the day when a Trans* person no longer has to live in fear we will see so many more people come out and pursue their happiness.
Monika: We are witnessing more and more transgender ladies coming out. 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 think we will have more and more such women? 
Christina: Absolutely. As Trans* people become more and more into the public eye, and being Trans* becomes more accepted in society, then more famous people that are Trans* will come out. A lot of Trans people live in fear and are not ready to risk everything to be themselves.
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?
Christina: I don’t believe it will happen in our lifetime. It took hundreds of years before a black man became president. We have yet to see any woman become president. So for a Trans woman, I really don’t think so.
Being trans*, in general, is Taboo, so even if a trans* lady ran for the oval office, even in stealth, she will be outed and will be demonized for it, even if she is open from the beginning. Like I said previously said, society has a long way to go before we as Trans* are treated as equals.

Christina and her 4-year-old daughter at a wedding in Delaware.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Christina: I’m not really big into fashion. If I like a piece of clothing, I will wear it; I don’t really care if it is a current trend of the “in” thing. I’m too old for that. Generally, I dress casual, Jeans/Capris, and a Top.
Occasionally a dress, if the situation calls for it. I may wear heels, however, I don’t wear anything extreme. I love my sandals and have really taken a recent liking to flip-flops.
I would say I would rather dress comfortably and sexy. Sexy isn’t who I am, if anything I’m a little tomboyish, but very little. I’m not flashy and never plan to be. I think it helps me blend into the public when I’m out. I honestly spend a little bit of time studying women my age in public when I first started to transition. I took notice of what they wore, I think it’s better for me to blend in than to stand out like a sore thumb.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Christina: I’m a little torn on this subject, to be honest. On one side, a lot of girls want to be beauty queens, both Trans* and CIS. I think my issue comes in with the separation and really stereotyping that comes with transgender beauty pageants. However there are some very beautiful transwomen out there and they do deserve a place to show off their beauty, I’m just not one of them.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Christina: Yes actually, I do some Trans* advocacy work, and some volunteer work, for some Trans* support groups. In fact, I was just in Harrisburg to help a good friend of mine out at their booth for their Trans* support group for Central PA pride. I also have in the works, a regular meeting where I will be talking with Trans* youth and trying to help them along their way and naturally not make the mistakes I made.
Monika: Do you intend to get married and have a family? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Christina: Well I already have a family, I have 3 wonderful children. As far as marriage, not sure, For me to get married again, that person would have to be very special.
As for love, love is always important, however, right now the love of my family and friends is all I need. I’m not ready to start dating, I want to be happy with myself before I date anyone. Plus I really don’t need a relationship making everything more complicated with my life. My life is already complicated enough with my transition alone. I think if I met the right person then who knows, but I’m really not going out looking.

Hanging out at a restaurant/bar with some friends.

Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Christina: Don’t be afraid, I was very scared when I started, just like many of us. First time I went shopping I nearly had a panic attack in the store. I have learned, in general people don’t care less what you are doing. I’ve been all over the woman’s department, in guy mode, for that matter, and no one cares.
People, in general, are so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t care what you are doing.
Another piece of advice, don’t let other people make up your mind for you. You may feel like it, but you are not alone. There really are a lot of us out there and our numbers grow every day. If you have the need to transition, then do it, fear is the enemy, it’s very scary at first, if you have to start slow, maybe a few hours in your home, then working your way to go out into public. The more you do it the more comfortable you will be.
Also, practice makes perfect, YouTube has some great tutorials on makeup, hair, pretty much everything like that, and as far as clothes, before you buy anything, spend a few weeks and observe other women, note how they dress, how they walk, how they act. Everything you can learn can always help you build that confidence you need. 
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years? 
Christina: Right now my next step is to start facial hair removal. Although HRT has done a great job with slowing my facial hair, I need to get it taken care of.
Another step would be to get to the point of being full-time, however, that would be a bigger goal. I already have legally changed my name, and my gender marker has already been changed, so I can really go full-time once I find another job.
In 5-7 Years, I really hope to be done with my transition, to have my surgery, and just be able to live as myself and be finally truly happy.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Christina: I would say I’m a work in progress, I am happier now than I have ever been. I still have issues with depression and dysphoria. However, even that has lessened… I now see that light at the end of the tunnel. And one day I will be there.
Monika: Christina, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!

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

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