Thursday 12 December 2013

Interview with True Scarlet

Monika: Today’s interview will be with True Scarlet, an American video blogger from Florida that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello True Scarlet!
True Scarlet: Hello Monika, I’m glad to be here.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
True Scarlet: Well, my name is Arrietta. I am 30 years old, born and raised in Florida, USA. I have worked as a Facility Maintenance supervisor in a drug and alcohol treatment center for the past six years. I enjoy running, hiking, and spending time with my friends. I can be over-focused from time to time and often spend hours lost in whatever I happen to get into at the time; usually games or reading.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
True Scarlet: When I first started trying to understand what being Transgender was, I was still afraid of what people would think. I spent most of my time online reading case studies and trying to understand the Psychological and Biological components of whom I am.
One day while I was looking around I happened upon some YouTube posts from others like myself going through this process. I felt the relief of not being alone and answered so many of my questions. I spent the better part of a year watching videos from dozens of T-girls and T-boys who had gone through so many challenges and came out so much stronger in the end. These stories gave me the confidence to start my own journey.
Once I was well on my way I felt a need to give back. One day I finished setting up my own account and started sharing my story. My hope is that doing so will help someone just as it helped me. Currently, I only have a couple videos, but hope to have many more soon.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
True Scarlet: It’s been a long road, but currently I have completed one year of counseling and fourteen months of hormones. Roughly a year ago I went full time in all aspects of my life. I still remember boxing up all my old clothing; I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. Just this year I completed my legal name change and gender marker change. Currently, only my birth certificate still has me listed as a male, but that will be corrected soon.

Christmas party 2012. The first time my coworkers
saw me in a dress.

Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
True Scarlet: For the most part I am, I think we all tend to believe that we will see the changes that we have longed for so badly, but hormones can only change so much.
As for my results, I did see a significant reduction in areas of masculine body hair. My skin has also become much softer making my features appear much more feminine. Some fat relocation gave me the appearance of hips and I lost a bit of muscle in my arms. Watching my diet has been somewhat more important lately as well; it is a bit harder to lose weight now.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
True Scarlet: I was fortunate to have a good childhood. My parents were always good to my brothers and I; they tended to spoil us a bit. Sadly I always felt different from my brothers. When we were little, boys knew how to be boys and girls knew how to be girls. There is a natural instinct or genetic manual we are born with that tells us what to do. For me, it was as though my instincts were broken.
By the time I was six I knew that I was different, even if I wasn’t sure why. My brothers would want to go ride four-wheelers or go take something apart. Me on the other hand I enjoyed spending time with my cousins and playing house. While nobody seemed to really care that I did so, I did feel like I didn't belong. I desperately sought the approval of my siblings and anytime they would question my activities I felt like I was an outcast. Often this led to my playing alone.
I believed that if I didn't do stuff with the girls then I wouldn’t look different, and if I didn't play with the boys then I wouldn’t have to do things I didn't like to do. It was very lonely and I felt lost for most of my youth. After a while, I learned how to watch other boys and see how I should act. I had to live a lie, but at least I felt accepted.
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?
True Scarlet: My years in school were not exactly traumatic, mostly I was lonely. By the time I was in middle school I had learned to play the part of a boy well enough to be left alone. I had some friends, but never many that I would hang out with after school. By this time I had taken up cross-dressing to fill urges that I had. I had become so afraid of people finding out that I was afraid to have people over. High school and college were the same, I just kept to myself. I learned to put out a persona of a confident male, but inside I was paranoid and afraid.

Last photo before I started my transition.

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
True Scarlet: I do follow an individual on YouTube, her screen name is nameissammi and her transition really inspired me. She is very confident and knowledgeable. Her trials during her transition showed me that you can beat anything as long as you want it bad enough. She actually just got her SRS just a few weeks ago. I have to admit I am a bit jealous.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
True Scarlet: The hardest thing I had to deal with was telling my family. I knew that my brothers would be accepting, but having to tell my mother and father was hard. The last thing I want is for my family to be ashamed of me.
When I finally made the decision to tell them I told everyone within the same week. I figured it would be easier to deal with everyone all at once than one at a time. They asked a lot of questions and we had some points of blaming and crying, but overall it went well. It took several months for things to calm down enough to where I felt that my family was OK with my decision.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in American society?
True Scarlet: The situation for transgender individuals seems to improve a little bit each year. Sadly there is still a lot of hate and misunderstanding when it comes to transgender individuals. Things are getting better and will keep getting better, but I know it will be a long fight for us to get the acceptance we long for.
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?
True Scarlet: Absolutely, I truly believe we will see a rise in transgendered people as acceptance for us improves. Even more so, I believe we will see a significant rise in younger transgendered people. Sadly people are still afraid of rejection by their friends and family. Even more so they fear that people may try to hurt us just because we are different.

My very best friend and I on a road trip!

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
True Scarlet: Sadly no, politics was never my forte. I do believe that transgendered women can make a difference just as with anyone else. We have the right to vote, all the information we need is available for us to make educated decisions. We just have to participate. 
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
True Scarlet: I personally think I’m fashion-challenged, but my friends like my taste in clothes. I love skirts and blouses, but tight jeans and boots are always fun too. I never really care about the brand, I just like anything that gives me a figure. The only exception I have made is when it comes to my purse, I love my Coach bag.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
True Scarlet: I love them, let people see us. Trans-women can be beautiful and I am all for showing it off.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
True Scarlet: I try to help where I can, I help with a Human sexuality class at a local college. The class is not always large, but it’s good to be able to answer their questions and help people to understand what being Trans is. I also participate in our local LGBT activities when I am aware of them, This year my friends and I held a Trans-pride day. It was a lot of fun and we had a good turnout.
Monika: Do you intend to get married and have a family? Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
True Scarlet: I would like to meet the right guy and get married someday. I want to have a family and adopt a child. I always wanted a little girl, but it’s a waiting game. I think it's everyone’s wish to meet someone that you truly love, and mutually loves you in return. Hopefully, after I get my SRS it will be more of a possibility than it is now.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
True Scarlet: When I was twelve I tried coming out to my family and when they got upset I was afraid and bottled it all up again. I know now that had I stuck to it then, that I would have been fully transitioned by the time I was eighteen; sadly I let fear govern me. The longer you wait the harder it can be. There will always be people that don’t understand, but you will be surprised at how many people will accept you. I think David Farragut said it best "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
True Scarlet: Currently I have contacted a doctor's office in Thailand and I have been saving to hopefully get my SRS within a year or two. Once I get my surgery I will be going back to school to get a degree in nursing. My goal is to move once I get my degree and start a new life for myself. Maybe meet someone and start that family I always wanted.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
True Scarlet: I can say without a doubt that this is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. And I know it’s only going to get better every day.
Monika: True Scarlet, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!

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

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