Wednesday 11 December 2013

Interview with Jessica Tiffany

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Jessica Tiffany, a young video blogger from Canada that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Jessica!
Jessica: Hi Monika! Thanks for interviewing me for your site!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jessica: I’m a 27-year-old transgirl, I started on hormones almost 2 years ago and I’ve been living full-time as a woman for over a year. I’m much happier now than I was before, I love being female.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Jessica: I’d watched a few random transgender video blogs before I decided for sure that I was going to transition. I used to frequent /r/transgender and /r/asktransgender on Reddit quite often and at the time people were posting videos occasionally to show what they looked and sounded like.
I had been putting serious thought into whether to transition or not for months and one evening I decided that I was going to go for it and transition. I was waiting for a friend to pick me up that evening so I decided to record a quick video myself to post to Reddit to say hi and to say I was planning on starting the transition process and so I could have a record of myself before I started.
I didn’t intend to start making a series of vlogs but I got a lot of nice messages from people and a lot of interest so I decided to keep making videos following my transition.

At a friend's wedding.

Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Jessica: I’m waiting to get my second psychological assessment so that I can be approved to get GRS. It has been taking a very long time to hear back from the psychologist who needs to approve me.
During this time I’ve thought about it a lot and sometimes I feel like maybe I would be OK with having a penis the rest of my life and other times I get extremely envious of girls and can’t stop thinking about wanting a vagina.
This is sorta similar to what I was going through before I transitioned so I think I should listen to the more intense thoughts and go for the surgery.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Jessica: Yes, I am very satisfied. I seem to pass 100% of the time, even when I’m with other Tgirls who are more visibly trans, people still think I’m a cis girl.
My face has changed, my skin is softer, my boobs are a pretty good size (I actually get a lot of compliments on them when people see them haha), and I just feel more comfortable within myself.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Jessica: I talk about my childhood in detail in my 27th vlog. I did not understand my trans feelings when I was a kid, I was confused. I had learned at a young age, like most people, that boys are supposed to be one way and girls were supposed to be another way.
I was into Sailor Moon when I was a kid and I had a friend (also a boy) who liked it too. We pretended that we were characters from the show a couple times and I absolutely loved pretending to be a girl. He told some of the other boys at school though and they started making fun of me.
That was sort of the beginning of me hiding any sort of feminine interest and making sure that I didn’t do anything feminine. It was very restricting. I started to feel like I had to be someone I wasn’t and I did not realize it was because I should have been a girl, I just felt awkward.

Also, I was quite often mistaken for a girl when I was under 14, it was always very embarrassing because I knew that I had a boy’s body. The first time that I questioned my gender was when I was 12 or 13 I think. I had started trying on my sister's clothes a bit at this time.
One day I noticed on myself a line that looks like stitch marks between the scrotum and the ass. I didn’t know what it was and I thought that it might be a vagina that was sewn up: “what if I used to be a girl and something was done to me when I was born to make me into a boy?”.
I knew in my head that the idea seemed unlikely and I didn’t think my parents would hide it from me, but I wasn’t sure. I was afraid to ask my parents because of what their answer might be and in the back of my head for a few years, I was afraid that it would be true.
Monika: And what happened?
Jessica: When I was 13-14 and my sex drive started developing I started getting really into self-bondage and I would usually wear a girl’s one-piece swimsuit while I tied myself up. It was from this point on that my desire to dress like a girl merged with kink and became one tangled thing in my mind. I just thought that it was a fetish, or a phase I was going through, or that maybe I did it because I didn’t have a girlfriend and I was curious.
I kept doing it until I went to University when I was 18 and then stopped because I didn’t have enough privacy. I thought I had gotten over it, but the feelings of wanting to tie myself up and dress like a girl started to come back 4-5 years later but this time the feelings of wanting to dress like a girl started overpowering the bondage aspect and then I started dressing like a girl at home and yada yada yada, now I’m living full-time lol.
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?
Jessica: I wasn’t really discriminated against unless you count the expectations and generalizations that people make about you if you’re a male. During most of my school years my true transgender feelings were so repressed I wasn’t aware of them, I just felt very awkward, it’s like I was learning the rules of “how to act as a person” from watching how everyone else acted instead of just being myself.
People could only get to know me to a certain point and I wouldn’t be able to fully open up with them. I think they’d sense this and it made it hard to have a close relationship. The thing is though, I didn’t know what I wouldn’t open up about, it was so buried. So when people told me to open up, or I thought they wanted me to open up, I felt like I couldn’t because I had nothing in me to share with someone.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Jessica: I have a lot of transgender friends that I’ve met in real life that gave me the strength to go for it and transition, but I wouldn’t really say I have a specific role model, I just try to be me.

Some of my friends and I at Burn in the Forest.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Jessica: The hardest thing about coming out for myself was worrying about what people would think of me after I told them. I’d built up this male persona that they knew me by and I was going to shatter it and start acting differently.
I spent most of my life hiding this from everyone and feeling shame about liking to wear girl’s clothes. It was sort of an embarrassing feeling. To be honest, when I go back and watch my vlogs about coming out at work I feel it again, I feel a little embarrassed and an “omg I can’t believe I did this” feeling.
But most of my coming out experiences were really good, everyone I have told took it really well and I haven’t lost any friends or family about it.
Coming out to my parents was definitely the hardest though, I felt sick for the whole week before I told them, I was insanely nervous. But it all went fine, they were very supportive and things are great with my parents.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Jessica: I live in Canada but our cultures are pretty similar. I think that the general view of transwomen is getting better but we still have a long way to go. You often see on tv a man wearing a dress or doing something feminine is the butt of a joke, I think that things like this really need to change, but it does seem to be getting better.
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?
Jessica: Yes, definitely! I think there are a lot more trans people out there than people think. We’ll definitely have more famous people transitioning or just being transgender when they become famous.

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Jessica: I am kind of disillusioned with politics these days, I think that the “democratic” systems of the western countries are totally broken and mainly serve corporate interests now.
I recently made a video about Chelsea Manning to try to raise awareness of the leaks she made that show some of the war crimes that the US has committed and also to show support to Chelsea by asking my audience to write her letters. Did you know that they kept her in solitary confinement without any clothes for 10 months? It’s horrible. I figure that it might not be possible for us to get her out of prison, but we can at least show her that she’s not alone and forgotten by sending her letters.
I think that transgender people can make a difference in politics, we just have to start getting a lot louder about things. Gay and Lesbian people have been very vocal about their right to marriage, we need to be vocal about our right to equal opportunity to work, bathroom rights, etc. 

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Jessica: I love having nice clothes, but I’m not a huge fan of shopping. I find that it takes a lot of work for me to find clothes I actually like but I guess it’s worth it when I find something that suits me and is unique.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Jessica: I don’t really know much about them, but they sound fun!
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Jessica: I go to Pride and to gay clubs occasionally and am fairly open about being bisexual but I don’t do any activism or anything.
Monika: Do you intend to get married and have a family? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Jessica: I don’t want kids and I’m not sure if I’ll get married, I don’t really see why I need to get the law involved in my relationships haha. Love is very important in my life though, until I was 24 I only had one relationship for 8 months, I was so starved for love…
But in the last few years since I started going out dressed as a girl and being myself, I’ve gone on lots of dates, been in a few relationships, and now I have an amazing partner (who is trans too) who I have so much fun with and love so much. We’re in an open relationship so I have been continuing to date others, I’ve been seeing a cute girl for the last couple of months.

Calling the psychologist.. again!

Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Jessica: If transitioning is what you think you need to do to be comfortable in your own skin, you have to do it. You aren’t truly living if you’re afraid to be yourself because of what other people might think.
Personally, almost all of the fears that I had of what would happen if I came out to people and transitioned never happened. I know this isn’t true for everyone, I’ve been lucky, but I honestly don’t think it will be as bad as you think.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Jessica: I’m just waiting for my psychological evaluation for getting the surgery! I’m so excited about getting a vagina!! It’s just taking forever for the psychologist to call me back to schedule an appointment, frustrating!!
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Jessica: Oh yes, I’m a very happy woman! I am so much happier now than I was before. I was just thinking about it earlier today actually – I was remembering what I felt like 4 or 5 years ago when my trans feeling all came bubbling to the surface. Before I would go to sleep every night I’d lay in bed and whisper “I’m a girl” over and over, I just wanted it so badly to be true… And now it is true! And it just feels so amazing to finally be myself. 
Monika: Jessica, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Jessica: Thanks so much for the great thought-provoking questions!!

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

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