Thursday, 12 September 2013

Interview with Eden Dintsikos

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Eden Dintsikos, a young video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Eden!
Eden: Hello Monika, thank you so much for having me here and giving me the opportunity to appear on your blog!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Eden: Where to start... I am 22 years young, born in Greece but living in Belgium since 2001 and I am in a relationship with Do for the past 3.5 years. I spend a lot of time crafting and making YouTube videos.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Eden: I’ve started a craft channel on YouTube a year ago before I was on HRT and a lot of people started noticing that I was slowly changing. Also, I was about to get facial feminization surgery so I felt the need to talk about what was going on because my subscribers would notice it anyway so I created a new channel, which was going to be all about my transition.
The main reason is that I want to help other trans girls out there by giving them information and answers about transitioning and also, I hope to educate people about this topic, especially those who have no experience with the subject; to help them understand, accept us the way we are and let them see what we’re going through. 
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Eden: At this point, I’m right at the beginning. I’ve started hormone replacement therapy one and a half month ago so I have a pretty long way to go! It is very exciting though, and I am so happy to go through this!

3 months after her FFS.

Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Eden: Even though I’m just at the beginning, I’ve already changed a lot. I don’t mean only by the way that I look, but also mentally, I feel so much happier with myself, more confident and for the first time in my life I start loving my body. I also look at things differently. More positive and less judgmental.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Eden: I started experimenting with make-up at the age of 17. I used to lock myself up in my grandma’s bathroom (I was adopted by her after my mom died when I was 14 years old) and used to play with her make-up. She never knew about this. I felt disgusted and was ashamed to tell anyone. So I kept doing this in private, where nobody could see me.
I left my grandparents' home at the age of 18 and rented an overpriced “shoebox” in the big city. It’s there where I actually found myself and finally had the guts to show myself like this in public. I started wearing more extreme make-up, everything over the top and a bit drag queen’ish/goth. I felt great by expressing myself like this. I bought clothes from the male sections and also from the female sections. I felt great by looking androgynous and gender was not an issue for me back then.
But things changed. At the age of 20, my body started to become more masculine. Facial and body hair started growing, my shoulders got bigger; I just didn’t like the person I saw in the mirror anymore. I had a year where I couldn’t sleep at night. I kept awake thinking about myself, starting HRT, and becoming a woman. Thoughts that scared me so much because I was so afraid not to be accepted by the people around me and because I was ashamed about myself, being this way.
So one of these sleepless nights, I was lying next to my boyfriend who slept and woke him up at three in the morning and told him everything. He obviously was shocked! He did not expect this but I knew that he would stay by my side whatever happens. And he still is after three years.
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?
Eden: I came out a year after I graduated so I luckily didn’t have to deal with any of this. Even, though I’m sure the people in my class would have accepted this completely. We had a great relationship with each other and I still have contact with them.

3 or 4 years old in her godmother's garden.

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Eden: Definitely, the wonderful and beautiful miss Carmen Carrera. I fell in love with her after seeing her on RuPaul’s Drag Race and when I found out that she started hormone replacement therapy, I was like: “Hell yeah!,, It’s so great having such a wonderful individual, being a role model for so many others!
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Eden: Telling my grandparents and younger brother about this. I actually came out to them after a year of going to the gender clinic and two weeks before I got my facial feminization surgery. Way to late so they didn’t really have a lot of time to process. Sadly, I can’t really say that they’re happy with my decision, but they know that they’ll have to accept it to make me happy.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in Belgian society?
Eden: Transgender people have the same rights as any other person here in Belgium but I feel like we should get more help to defend ourselves when we get discriminated against. Belgians are pretty open-minded, but when it comes up to transgender individuals, I feel like they don’t know much about us and can be fast to judge or make fun with us.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Eden: I have a love/hate relationship with fashion. I actually hate it. I feel like there are so many beautiful things out there you can wear so there’s no need to follow trends or wearing designer clothes all the time. I have a huge love for black since I was a teenager.
Everything I own is mostly black, tight, skinny clothes and I usually like to wear oversized cardigans for a vampy look. I have also a passion for beautiful shoes, especially those Jeffree Campbell heels but unfortunately, the costs of my transition are so high and make it a bit hard for me to spend so much money on shoes.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Eden: I don’t really like pageants because I feel like a person should not be compared to another to see who makes the most beautiful one because we’re all beautiful in our own way and beauty is different for everyone. But on the other side, I’m happy that transwomen get the chance to participate in them since they’re not allowed to be in “normal” pageants. With which I obviously do not agree.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Eden: Not really. The only way I try to have contact with people from the LGBT community is via the internet, and that mostly with other transgendered girls to share experiences.

On a school trip to Barcelona.

Monika: Do you intend to get married and have a family? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Eden: Love is really important for me since I didn’t really experience it the way I should when I was younger.
I moved from Greece to Belgium after my parents’ divorce when I was 8 years old. I and my brothers got bullied a lot when we moved to this country and we never fit in anywhere. The bad relationships my mom had with horrible men back in the days who made us suffer so badly and her death brought the entire family a lot of tears and sorrow.
After that, growing up in a boarding school for 6 years and over the weekends at grandma’s house was not really pleasant. I didn’t have a good relationship with my mom’s parents and I never felt like I had someone who loved me or I could love. When I got my first serious relationship at the age of 17 and came out to my Greek family as gay they were so ashamed of me that I stopped existing for them. I haven’t talked with my dad and brothers for almost 4 years.
At this point, the only thing I can do is build up my own family to love and be happy with. I am so blessed for having an amazing boyfriend who has been there for me even before he knew about me wanting to become the other sex, and supported me like no one else did from the beginning. I never felt love so strong as I do for him. The first person who ever made me feel special and good enough for others.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Eden: It’s normal to be afraid at the beginning. Starting your transition is a big deal and should be well thought through. You should not let people around you make the decision for you. That’s up to you because it’s all about you being happy in the end. I wish I knew this much sooner so that I would have started my transition much earlier. About discrimination and hatred: People will always find something to make fun of you if it’s really their intention. Just believe in yourself and don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not beautiful, because you are!
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Eden: Since I’ve started my transition I had a hard time finding a job but I don’t give up hope and I keep trying. Besides that, I am considering going back to school to become a nurse, find a good job and buy a house to make it our home, and build a happy life with Do. 
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Eden: Definitely.
Monika: Eden, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!

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

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