Thursday 12 December 2013

Interview with Jenna Arriving1

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Jenna Arriving1, a video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Jenna!
Jenna: Hello Monika. Just to say that Jenna is an alias I use online and it’s not my real name.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jenna: Well, I am 38, single, and now living in London UK. I live full-time as a woman and started a medical transition in Oct 2011. I have been living full-time as a woman for one year. I initially transitioned as a teenager at age 16 and continued for 2 years until after my 18th birthday. Sadly I detransitioned due to ill health and other pressures. I restarted my transition at age 36.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Jenna: YouTube has been a real source of inspiration to me. Helped me to understand that real women, real trans women were able to make a successful transition from male to female. It also showed me that there are far more trans women out there than I had realized and that I wasn’t alone.
I wanted to share my journey with others so they could see that they are also not alone. I wanted to provide a blog that was realistic about everyday issues that transgender women face. It also wanted a personal record of my transition.

Happy to find a dress that suits her.

Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Jenna: I am now 2 years on HRT, 1 year after my facial feminization. I am hoping for my SRS sometime during the first half of next year.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Jenna: Yes and no. I would like bigger breasts and more hip and bottom fat, just like most TS women do. However, I occasionally look at my old pictures pre HRT and I am amazed at what has happened to me. It like trying to watch a child grow up. You will not see the child grow if you just stand and stare at it. However, if you see it after a year the child will look different and will have grown.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Jenna: As soon as I became socially aware of the differences between men and women and I started to make friends at nursery. It was then I realized that I was not like my girlfriends but I really wished I was. I wished I was a girl like them. I have a twin brother and could not understand why I didn’t want to be more like him. I think I was about 4 years old.
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?
Jenna: I was lost and lonely at school. I envied my friends and wanted to date boys just like they were doing. I could not identify with my peers and often was very shy and withdrawn. I hated secondary school. Infant and junior schools were great.
I was not bullied that much at school mainly because I kept such a low profile. I was a good-looking boy and I always got the attention of girls even if I didn’t want it. That helped keep the bullies at bay as I was seen as a bit of a chick magnet even if I didn’t like it. I played along with it. My twin brother was the same but he enjoyed the attention. I was the quiet one.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Jenna: I used to follow Caroline Cossey many years ago. One of my biggest inspirations online is Fiorwestcoast on YouTube.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Jenna: So many things were difficult, but the hardest thing of all was coming out to my long-time partner of 11 years. He was devastated and angry. He blamed me for ruining his life and stated I was incredibly selfish. I felt so guilty. It has taken a long time for him to fully come to terms with my transition. We remain friends.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Jenna: I will relate this to British society. The LGBT community has a clearer voice than ever. Groundbreaking steps are being made which enable gay couples to marry in churches and live normal and free lives.
Despite that, transgender issues remain largely under the radar. People are just not that comfortable with trans issues. A lot of time, media coverage is sensationalist or negative. Pictures portray trans people as either tragic or sleazy. Things have moved on legally, but there is so much more work to be done until trans people get the acknowledgment they deserve.
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?
Jenna: Yes, we may over time. I personally have only heard of a couple of the people above. Although they have celebrity status, they are not fully mainstream. I struggle to think of any real A-listers that are openly trans.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Jenna: No.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Jenna: I like fashion and do follow it. However, I am not a fashion victim lol. I often have an idea of what will suit me, but when I put it on it looks hideous. It can be difficult to find clothes that properly fit due to my essentially male skeleton.
I try to dress femininely and wear dresses etc, however, they can look odd on me as I have broad shoulders and a broad back. I research what designs would suit my body shape best and use these ideas to help me choose outfits when I go shopping.

Hats suit her now since having her FFS.

Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Jenna: They are OK. It’s good to see trans women being proud of their looks and physical attributes. I think it is good for the public to see this too. A lot of my friends and family tend to perceive transgender women as men in frocks. We are not, we can be truly stunning as well. In some cases more stunning than a lot of genetic girls.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Jenna: No.
Monika: Do you intend to get married and have a family? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Jenna: I want to get married very much. I don’t think I will ever have my own family but it would be nice to marry into a family. Meet a man who already has kids.
Love is the most important thing in my life. It’s what makes life worthwhile. Having been without it for a couple of years has been extremely tough for me because it is so important.
Sometimes I just miss a cuddle or a kiss. I miss sharing the stories of my day, holding a man’s hand. Spoiling him, and having a companion. I am not driven by career, money, or status. I just want a man to love, and for a man to love me.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Jenna: Just look in the mirror. You have to listen to your heart on this one. Listening to what your head tells you will make you accept that society is a cruel hard place and that life will be too hard.
Listening to your head may tell you that other people will think bad of you, and your family could be ashamed of you... because that might be true. Listen to your heart, hear yourself, truly listen to what you want. Your heart, your mind, your body. Nobody else’s, yours. You will have the answer.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Jenna: Wow big question. The next step for me is to just continue to make a successful life for myself as a woman. In the next 5-7 years I want to have completed my medical transition. SRS done, boob job done, and all of my laser and electrolysis complete.
I actually believe that to be a real possibility within the next 12 months. Most of all I just want to meet someone and fall in love. Buy or rent a place together and build a life again. After that... all I could wish for is to be healthy and happy.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Jenna: Yes I am. Life is still tough and I still feel lonely but the main difference is that I am being myself and being true. That is something I could never let go of again.
Monika: Jenna, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!

All the photos: courtesy of Jenna Arriving1.
© 2013 - Monika Kowalska

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