Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Interview with Vanessa Lopez


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Vanessa Lopez, a Chilean-born model from Sweden, TV celebrity, beauty pageant queen, the author of "Jag har ångrat mig" (2014). Hello Vanessa!
Vanessa: Hello Monika! Thank you for the introduction! 
Monika: Let’s start with your autobiography first. Why did you decide to "Jag har ångrat mig"?
Vanessa: Thank you Monika! The English version would be: “I Changed My Mind”. A TG sister of mine told me once about the native American two-spirit people. I started to investigate the two-spirits through books, and I found out that what she told me was true! Native Americans had multiple genders in their society. The basic were woman, man, female men and manly female, who were all socially accepted.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Interview with Paulina Ashley Angel


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Paulina Ashley Angel, a transgender activist from USA, songwriter, musician, singer, producer, and blogger. Hello Paulina!
Paulina: Hola Monika, hella great to meet you!!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Paulina: WOW, where should I start? I’m a 32 year old Transwoman from the town of Indio, in California. I’m a songwriter/singer, multi-instrumentalist, student leader, LGBTQIA Rights Leader and a dreamer. I'm the creator of the Facebook page, Trans Role Models and its sister page, Trans Fund Raising. I have my own music company, P.A. Music, Inc.
Monika: You have written over 200 songs. Where do you get your music inspirations from?
Paulina: I’ve always had a knack for writing lyrics. Some songs are written just by coming up with a song title, or if a lyric pops into my head, and at times from real life experiences, or dreams of experiences I can have in the future. The first song I wrote, The Rain (which can be heard on my first album), was actually based on a suicide letter I wrote during the summer of 1997, but I'm still alive and decided to make a song out of parts of it.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Interview with Ann-Christine Roxberg


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Ann-Christine Roxberg, a lecturer, theologian and priest from Sweden. She is also the main character of her daughter’s book titled “Min pappa Ann-Christine” (2014). Hello Ann-Christine!
Ann-Christine: Hello Monika! What an unexpected pleasure to be interviewed by you! 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Ann-Christine: I am 60+ with three daughters and three grandchildren. I have been working as a priest for 36 years. Last summer I resigned and now spend my time lecturing about trans and related issues, especially trans and the Bible. I am engaged to Eva.
Monika: When did you decide that priesthood would be your vocation?
Ann-Christine: It was shortly after college.
Monika: You can boast a very solid education background …
Ann-Christine: Well, I believe it is on the average when you compare it with the academic background of others.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Interview with Angela van Bebber


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Angela van Bebber, a Dutch transgender activist from Tilburg, the Netherlands, businesswoman, blogger, the author of “Eindelijk, ik lééf!” (Finally I live). Hello Angela!
Angela: Hello, thanks for the interview. 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Angela: Well, where do I start. I’m 62 years old. Transsexual. Got out of the closet in 2001. Had my surgery in 2006. Life hasn’t been easy for me. I still have repercussions. In general, I’m doing fine. Nowadays I give lectures and I’m sharing my experiences at schools. I wrote a book about my life as it’s already mentioned. I have a website www.allesmagerzijn.nl. In English you can say: It’s all good.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Interview with Bambie Nicole


Monika: Today’s interview will be with Bambie Nicole, a young American video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Bambie!
Bambie: Hello World! Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Bambie: Spicy, feminine, sassy, straightforward, honest, loving, caring, daring.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Bambie: I made a decision to begin a YouTube channel in hopes of reaching out to others.To let people know anything you put your mind to is possible. If you work hard, sacrifice, and motivate yourself your dreams are totally obtainable.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Bambie: I have been in transition for the past fourteen years on hormone therapy. I have never had any kind of augmentation or plastic surgery.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of your transition?
Bambie: I am totally satisfied with the results of my transition. Patience is crucial! Transition itself is a long word defining a lengthy process. Results take a while to achieve however, beautiful results are very possible!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Interview with Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir, an Icelandic transgender rights activist. Hello Ugla!
Ugla: Hello Monika! Thank you for contacting me. I’m honored to be a part of this.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Ugla: Well, my name is Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir and I am a young transgender activist from Iceland.
I work for several organizations here in Iceland, including the National LGBTQ organization in Iceland, Q-Association of Queer Students in Iceland and I lead Trans-Iceland, which is the main organization for transpeople in Iceland.
I am very passionate when it comes down to human rights and I am starting my master’s degree in gender studies in January in the University of Iceland.
Monika: You are the champion of many transgender causes and actions. Could you name some of the initiatives that you took part in?
Ugla: I’d hardly consider myself a champion, but I have indeed taken part and or/organized many events and conferences in relation to transgender rights and LGBTQ rights in general. As the chair of Trans-Iceland I have organized Transgender Day of Remembrance in Iceland for several years. I have been a public spokesperson in Iceland for transpeople and I have been very public in the media for the past few years.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Interview with Greta Martela


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Greta Martela, a software developer from San Francisco, transgender activist, and co-founder of Trans Lifeline - the first U.S. suicide hotline dedicated to transgender people. Hello Greta!
Greta: Hello!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Greta: I’m a trans woman living in San Francisco, CA and working in tech.
Monika: Trans Lifeline is the first U.S. suicide hotline providing support to transgender people. What is the suicide rate among transgender people in the USA?
Greta: We aren’t the first transgender crisis line, but we are the first national crisis line for transgender people staffed solely by transgender people. There isn’t a good rate statistic because so many trans people are misgendered after death. The self reported attempt rate is 41% but obviously this doesn’t include people who die from their suicide attempts.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Interview with Pam Bennett


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Pam Bennett, an American advocate for the LGBT community, politician, military veteran, and blogger. Hello Pam!
Pam: Hello from Annapolis, Maryland U.S.A. Happy to be here.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Pam: Asking a politician (former, but never say never) to say only a few words is like asking the sun to not shine too much today. My first thought every day is that I am the luckiest person on earth. The job I do is a lot of fun, enhanced with wonderful co-workers and bosses who care about their employees.
I live on a beautiful little peninsula, southeast of Annapolis, in the Chesapeake Bay. My cat, Boo, loves sailing on my boat. All of this is what I think of each morning because I also temper my happiness knowing that so many transgender people around the world cannot even dream of my world. I have had a great life, too many downs, but a lot of ups to make it interesting.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Interview with Maki Yamazaki


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Maki Yamazaki, a British musician, producer, artist, games developer, trans-feminist and advocate of queer and disabled peoples’ rights, the creator of Dr. Carmilla - a retrospective-futurist cabaret, the head of Silvana Studio and games developer. Hello Maki!
Maki: Hi there, lovely to meet you and thanks for having me!
Monika: You describe yourself as a transfeminist. What does transfeminism espouse?
Maki: Trans-feminism is basically feminism that is fully trans inclusive. It's not implicitly one kind of feminism but an umbrella term for different types. But the key thing is about trying to make things better for women of all kinds, with the inclusion of trans-feminist writings and ideas (such as 'Whipping Girl' by Julia Serano).

See Maki's page.

Monika: You are the composer of 5 music albums: Transmisson 01, Transmission 02, Made in a Day, Ageha, and Exhumed & {Un}plugged, written and recorded at your Silvana Laboratory. Where do you get your music inspirations from?
Maki: I find a lot of things inspiring! Sometimes it'll be a dream that I wake up from, or random thoughts that I have. Inspiration is everywhere, for me! However, more than anything I like my work to inspire me. Often, I'll just play around until I found a sound or a lyric that I like and build from there.
I find the whole process of music-making to be quite explorative. If I start out with a solid idea of what my music should be before I start making it, I find it impedes my ability to let it grow into what it could become. It's like a loop between what's going on inside my head and what I'm hearing.
Monika: The contemporary music has produced a new wave of transgender female artists, just to name few of them: Mina Caputo of Life of Agony, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, Marissa Martinez of Cretin, Amber Taylor of The Sexual Side Effects, Namoli Brennet, Sissy Début, and Jennifer Leitham, and many others. Are we facing the creation of a new music trend in this respect?
Maki: I think it's much more to do with the information that's available to us, especially where the Internet is concerned. More and more trans individuals are finding the information that they need to come to terms with their gender dysphoria than ever. I don't think there's much of a unified movement, just a lot of really good conversation happening. But it's really encouraging to see trans individuals from all walks of life finding more and more success in the world. 

http://makiyamazaki.com/

Monika: You are the creative mind behind Dr. Carmilla, a retrospective-futurist cabaret about a lesbian vampire in space. Could you say a few words about that project? 
Maki: I could probably talk your ears off about Dr. Carmilla! But currently I'm on a bit of a break from doing Dr. Carmilla as a project. I spend 5 years working on the music for Dr. Carmilla, so I decided it was time to try some different things for a while. It's really sad to do though, because I dedicated so much time and love into the project.
At first, it started out as Dr. Carmilla & The Mechanisms, but life circumstances took me away from the rest of the band, and I decided to go solo. It was probably the best decision I ever made as it coincided with setting up my own studio and focusing on making recordings in a very complimentary manner. But I do miss working with The Mechanisms very much. Perhaps one day our time and locations will re-convene and we'll do something together again. But for now, I'm pretty much snowed under with work to do.


Monika: In 2009, you founded Trans-script – a show that ran for Oxford’s Pride festivals during 2009 & 2010, performed in collaboration with a number of other trans individuals. How successful was that event?
Maki: It was pretty successful and a lot of fun! It came out of a need for trans-focused events for Oxford Pride and I realised if I didn't do anything, there weren't going to be any events at all. We ran the event for two years, and in both Oxford and London, but I moved to Liverpool the year after, so I sadly couldn't keep running the event. The year after I ran Transistor Cabaret, which was really successful too, but I've had to step down from organizational positions for now as I have a lot of my own work to create.

Great music in the making.

Monika: What is your general view on transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers or books so far?
Maki: In general I think there's a lot of room for improvement, especially in terms of not only the language that is used (both written and visual), but also a concerning lack of understanding from many of the editors/directors involved.
Often when I see a story, be it real or created, I too often see the same tropes about transgender people thrown around. Far too often our stories are used to make other people money, and far too few opportunities to really tell our own stories, the way that we need to tell them.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in the British society?
Maki: It's not good. There are places in the world where it's a lot worse, but I think there's a global lack of places where it's actually 'acceptable to be trans' by society’s standards. 
Monika: At what age did you begin transition? Was it a difficult process?
Maki: I came out at 17 and have never really looked back since. It was quite difficult, but the alternative seemed much more difficult to me.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Maki: Sadly not, this was a while ago. I'm glad things have changed since.


Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Maki: Making the first steps and dealing with the consequences were probably the hardest things. That and the abuse I've suffered at the hands of others. Not everyone has a difficult time when they come out, but sadly I got a lot. I'd had a lot of it before, though, due to being a person of colour and an aspie, and coming from a large town with a very small-town mentality.
Since moving away from there, I've had very little in the way of violence for being trans. Changing location can make a huge impact to your life, and I'm glad that I managed to get away from all of that for the most part.

Her game Shiro//Kuro.

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Maki: I try to be as active as I can, but unfortunately it's quite difficult to be as involved as I'd like to. Health and disability are really major factors in deciding what I am and am not capable of doing.
However, I think we definitely can make a difference, no matter how disempowered we might feel. But personal safety should come first, if it's an issue.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Maki: I think the definition of love is too big a concept to really encapsulate in one paragraph, but yes, it's very important! I can't even imagine what my life would be like without the love of others. But learning to love yourself can be the most important and the hardest part.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Maki: I've thought about it lots, though right now I'm too busy making music, art and games. When I have a year to spare, I'd certainly like to consider it.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Maki: Quite a few actually! Largely, though, I'm working pretty hard on the games that I'm developing at the moment.
I often have ideas for projects that I begin and then decide I don't have the time to dedicate myself to them. It's sad, but I learn to pick those which I feel I can complete and the ones that don't require an overwhelming amount of research and development.


I've almost finished working on my album, Transmission 03, and I've just got the cassettes for my release of the Made in a Day Extended Edition! It's terribly exciting!
I'm also working on another album, with a focus on ballads, with some guest musicians. Despite my large amount of solo work, I really do love working with others, and it's really fantastic doing that in the context of working in my own studio.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Maki: The most important things I've found that have really helped me is learning to have patience, confidence and to keep those that treat you without respect at a clear distance – you really don't need those people in your life, if you can avoid it.
Monika: Maki, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Maki Yamazaki.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska
 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Interview with Naomi Fontanos


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Naomi Fontanos, a Filipino trans rights advocate, one of the founders and current Executive Director of transgender rights group GANDA (Gender and Development Advocates) Filipinas in the Philippines, and blogger. Hello Naomi!
Naomi: Hello Monika. The pleasure and honor are all mine. How lovely indeed to finally have a conversation with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Naomi: I grew up in a small town in the Philippines where the country’s superstar also comes from. I was a straight-A student from grade to high school. In high school, I graduated on top of my class and went on to attend the Philippine’s national university, which is like the Harvard of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Diliman.
There, I earned a degree in education. I am a licensed teacher and currently work as an education consultant. I love languages, fashion, music, art and travel. I love to write, read and watch movies in my spare time. Best of all, I love to sing. I love doing karaoke and love spending time with friends this way.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Interview with Miranda Yardley


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Miranda Yardley, a British accountant, music magazine publisher, blogger and businesswoman. Hello Miranda!
Miranda: Hello Monika! Thanks for asking me to do this and for helping my voice to be heard.
Monika: You can boast a considerable number of music magazines such as Terrorizer, Dominion, and Sick Sounds, which specialized in extreme music. Has your music preference changed over the years? 
Miranda: Terrorizer is the only one of these magazines that is still regularly published. My taste in music has always been very broad, I’m open-minded to most kinds and I continue to search out both old and new music that interests me.
Monika: How did you enter the publishing business?
Miranda: I had an accounting client who owned Terrorizer and wanted to drop the title. The rest is history!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Interview with Sarah Brown


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Sarah Brown, a talented British Liberal Democrat politician and transgender activist, the former Cambridge City Councillor for Petersfield ward, for several years the only openly transsexual elected politician in the UK, listed many times on the Independent on Sunday "Pink List" of the most influential LGBT persons in the UK. Hello Sarah!
Sarah: Hello Monika!
Monika: I was so sorry when I heard that you failed to be re-elected as a Cambridge councillor in May 2014? How would you summarize your term and legacy?
Sarah: Thanks. It was always going to be a tough campaign, given the demographics of the ward I represented and being elected originally during “Cleggmania”. Still, I’m pleased that I managed to do some good during my time as a councillor. The two things I’m most proud of are setting up a fund to help teach disadvantaged kids to swim, and getting a motion to introduce a 20mph limit on all residential streets in Cambridge through council with unanimous support. There were times when it was really stressful though.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Interview with Katie Leone


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Katie Leone, an American writer, former stock broker, teacher, preacher, and wrestling champion. Hello Katie!
Katie: Hi, Monika. Thanks for inviting me over, it’s a real treat and an honor.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Katie: I’m a very simple woman. I enjoy keeping to myself for the most part. I love writing stories and try to promote transgender equality through fiction. Most of the time I’m with my f2m boyfriend Felix and we spend time talking and laughing. Hopefully there will be a wedding in the near future. 
Monika: You are the author of 25 transgender fiction novels. When you create transgender characters in your books or projects, do you include any autobiographical elements in their lives or stories?
Katie: It is hard not to include part of yourself in your characters or they wind up coming up flat. A lot of the characters in my books are usually a part of me whether good or bad. We all have those sides of us that we wish we didn’t and I use that to create some of my evil characters. Fiction is a great place to let those demons out because at least you can see it for what it is and address the issues.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Interview with Kimberly Luciana Dias


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Kimberly Luciana Dias, a Brazilian transgender activist, artist, beauty pageant queen, blogger, creator of “Mundo T-Girl – Travestis e Transexuais”. Hello Kimberly!
Kimberly: Monika, please bear in mind that I am trying to use the social network of my country to spread the visibility of our trans community, especially Brazilian transvestites and transsexuals. I love doing this, so it is a great pleasure when I'm in front of my computer, building a virtual policy and manifesto, trying to use everything I have learned in my life through activism, stage, model catwalk and my experience as a transgender woman. I am doing this just to show our vision, glamour and beauty because our community deserves it!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kimberly: I am a very accomplished person; I have all my dreams come true, but not all of them. It has taken me a lot of years but although I have a very serious look, I'm a very humorous person. I like my independence and I have a few friends, I love my family and my life story, and I really like my solitude that makes me feel good to be alone!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Interview with Petra De Sutter


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Petra De Sutter, a Belgian gynecologist, academic, senator, Professor and Head of the Reproductive Medicine Department at Ghent University, Executive of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), a member of the Royal Belgian Academy of Medicine, a former member of the Belgian High Health Council and of the French Biomedical Agency, author of over 300 journal articles. Hello Petra!
Petra: Hi Monika!
Monika: What did you feel when in July 2014 it was announced that you were appointed to the Belgian Senate as a Green Party nomination?
Petra: I was very happy and proud. I hope I can contribute to a more equal and just society, and although the Green Party is a small party (just under 10%), we can influence things and make our world greener, more sustainable and also more equitable.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Interview with Ahya “Yah-Yah“ Nicole


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Ahya “Yah-Yah“ Simone, a young woman of many talents from Detroit, model, aspiring make-up artist and harpist. Hello Yah-Yah!
Ahya: Hi! Let me first say that I am so happy that you found me interesting enough to interview. Thank you!
Monika: You were featured in the Barney’s “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters Campaign” which was targeted towards bringing trans positive awareness within fashion. There are more and more transgender models that are successful in the fashion business…
Yah-Yah: Yes!! And I am so excited for that. Visibility and diversity is very important. It’s time for a breakthrough for trans people in the US. It is time to stand up and be recognized.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Interview with Jennifer Lydon


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Jennifer (Bryant) Lydon, a senior account executive at Metro US — a free daily newspaper popular in New York, Philadelphia and Boston; She is also the organizer of the Mid-Atlantic Transgender Community (M.A.T.C.) as well as the hostess of The Raven TG pride events in New Hope, PA. Hello Jennifer!
Jennifer: Hi Monika. Thank you so much for allowing me part of your site. It is an honor to be amongst so many inspirational people.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jennifer: Questions like this are always tough for me… I either say too much or have nothing to say… lol … Anyway, here goes… I am a 48 year old trans-woman that has successfully navigated one life into another. I was married for almost 20 years and have 4 adult children that are still very much a part of my life.
I work as an account executive for Metro News Media. I’ve been there for over 14 years… the first 13 of which I worked as a mild mannered male… lol. Times have changed for sure!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Interview with Naomi Ceder


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Naomi Ceder, an American Python language programmer, blogger, transgender activist, lead software architect and developer at Razor Occam, former IT Director and Python developer at Zoro Tools, Fellow of the Python Software Foundation, and the author of The Quick Python Book. Hello Naomi!
Naomi: Hi Monika! Thanks for interviewing me!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Naomi: As my intro says, I’m a Python developer and systems architect. I’m currently working in London and Düsseldorf, which has been a lot of fun. 
Monika: Being a Python guru, how would you explain the importance of this programming language to persons that are not IT experts?
Naomi: I doubt I’m a guru, although most people who know me would probably say I’ve always been a teacher. Python is a very powerful and readable language that is also fairly easy to learn. It’s also a high level language, meaning you can get more done with less code. All of that makes it enormously useful in all sorts of areas – web applications, big data, scientific computing, day-to-day administration, etc. It continues to grow in popularity; for example, it’s one of the top languages at Google.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Interview with Jessica Vorster


Monika: Today’s interview will be with Jessica Vorster, a young video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Jessica!
Jessica: Hi Monika! Thanks for inviting me to do this interview!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jessica: I’m a transgender woman, 22 years of age. I’m just trying to find my place on this world. I’ve been living full time since December 2013 and have been on HRT for a year and 10 moths now. I’m a happy go lucky kind of person that likes to talk and help people. 
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Jessica: At first I wanted to raise money in order to go for surgeries, but people wanted to hear the story behind the story so I have been working on a few new videos that will be up on YouTube soon.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Interview with Alice Denny


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Alice Denny, a British poet, and transgender activist from Brighton, England. Hello Alice!
Alice: Hello Monika, it’s a pleasure to meet you - so to speak.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Alice: Well I came out and transitioned later in life than most, after bringing up a family. As such transition has given me a new lease in life, a new energy. It has presented some interesting issues with relationships. I Identify primarily as a woman, parent, poet etc. and trans is more coincidental, a reference to my development that has little current relevance. Although in practice it has a big impact on the way I interact in the world and the world treats me.
Monika: Some time ago you attended a meeting in Prague, the Czech Republic. How important is networking for transgender activism?
Alice: I did Monika but I don’t think of myself as an activist as such; there are some fabulous activists and advocates out there. Meeting people from other areas and countries – from the next street even- is so important because it reminds us we are not alone, helps share experience and work to fight prejudice – which is considerable around the world.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Interview with Abby Grace Hughes


Monika: Today’s interview will be with Abby Grace Hughes, known to friends and family as Abby-Grace. She is a video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube and on her blog. Hello Abby!
Abby: Hello Monika, thank you for this privilege. So much has happened in my life. From coming out at around 6, struggling through puberty and school. Touring the UK in my Rock band in the 80s and early 90s. Transitioning in my early 20s to turning away to have children.
Three gender dysphoria caused nervous breakdowns putting me into psychiatric help. Coming out. Starting hormones. Changing name. Being beaten up for being trans. Life threatened. Had people arrested. I falsely had the police called out on me. Falsely tricked and lied about. Ran away from the UK to the States. Got stuck in Germany during my connecting flight because of a slight error on my Visa which cost an extra $800. 2 years RLE now as good as complete. Finding work here and processing my Visa. Then I’m off to college if I can.
I think I am now better equipped to help people having gone through it all, so there was a reason.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Interview with Venus de Mars


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Venus de Mars, a transgender artist from Minnesota, poet, singer, songwriter, painter, and leader of punk-glam band All the Pretty Horses. Hello Venus!
Venus: Hey Monika ;)
Monika: When did you decide that music will be your profession?
Venus: Ha! OK... well Hmm. I guess it started as a desire way back when I was a kid... you know. The glamour... seeing the portrayals, lifestyles etc. in media from back then. That kind of attracted me to it all...but I was way to shy to sing... didn't think I could really, so I just concentrated on playing the guitar. Started on acoustic when I was like 10 years old... and did basic lessons, but I branched out on my own and tried to learn classical, and flamenco... all that stuff, but rock still called to me.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Interview with Alessandra Bernaroli


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Alessandra Bernaroli, a transsexual activist from Bologna in Italy, whose legal victory was an important step for transgender rights in Italy. Hello Alessandra!
Alessandra: Hello Monika, thanks for this opportunity to talk about LGBTI Civil Rights!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Alessandra: I was born a man in 1971 and lived my life forcing myself to adhere to the image that the society established for people who had male appearance. In my teen years there wasn’t Internet nor so much “correct” information about transsexualism, so I always tried to deny my intimate feelings, believing that they were wrong and it was happening only to me and no one else in the world.
However, that was not true; now I know it! So I behaved trying to look as manly as possible, and I succeeded easily in doing this also because of my physical appearance, which was, at that time, indubitably a male appearance both in aspect as well as in attitude. Year after year my deep feeling to be a woman didn’t disappear, of course.
I graduated in economics, served one year in military service, practiced charted accounting and finally worked as a clerk. In the meantime, I found love and I got married. Until then, it was 2005, I was a man!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Interview with Natalie Colleen Gates


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Natalie Colleen Gates, an American writer, blogger, the author of Straight Boy/Queer Girl: A Memoir. Hello Natalie! 
Natalie: Hi Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Natalie: Oh my God, I'm so bad at things like that. You'd think being a blogger and having just written a memoir I'd be better at it. I don't know: I'm 32. I live with my dog Victoria Elizabeth in Richmond, Virginia.
Monika: Why did you decide to write your autobiography “Straight Boy/Queer Girl: A Memoir“ (2014)?
Natalie: To make money [laughing] at first. I've been blogging for a long time and people for the most part like my writing I thought I should take some of the energy I put into blogging and write a book. As I got into the project I realized it was important because I was writing the trans* memoir I wish existed before I transitioned.
All the memoirs I've read start with the trans* person in the present after they've transitioned. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to share my experience of thinking I might transition but not being sure about it. I really wanted to share with my readers how I came to the conclusion that I needed to transition.
I also wanted to share how what I was going through as a closeted trans* person was similar and how it was different from other closeted people's experiences.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Interview with Anna Kristjánsdóttir


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Anna Kristjánsdóttir, a transgender activist from Iceland, former marine engineer, co-founder of Trans-Iceland. Hello Anna!
Anna: Thank you Monika for giving me this honour.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Anna: As for my education and work, I am educated as a marine engineer officer and still working as a technical person; now working as a control room engineer at Reykjavik Energy, and going out to sea on merchant vessels every summer and also voluntary working as an engineer aboard a SAR boat (Search And Rescue), similar to the RNLI service in Great Britain. 
Monika: Anna, you are the icon and legend of the transgender movement in Iceland. How do you carry this burden?
Anna: I did never try to be such a legend. I tried to go through my transition for myself; it was a pure coincidence that I became the face of the transsexual movement in Sweden in the early 90’s and I lost my “virginity” as a transgendered person making the transition in peace. I became known in Sweden and Iceland and the Lutheran bishop of Iceland at that time asked God to save his soul from this terrible person. :)

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Interview with Kathryn Camfield


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Kathryn Camfield, a blogger, writer, former radio announcer, and transgender ally from Reno NV. Hello Kathryn! 
Kathryn: Hi Monika, and thanks for your interest in me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kathryn: A few words? I laugh because my wife Cindy would be saying “be careful what you wish for.” Anyhow, I’m a transgender ally. An experienced cross dresser since 1957, I have lived and worked as a woman, on and off, since 1998. I reside in Reno NV with my wife, Cindy. I was a radio announcer for about 34 years in Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Florida. In addition, I have written four published books and I taught people how to write books, on America Online, for 7 years. I have played guitar, bass guitar and djembe (a hand drum) and have worked on a various computers since 1986.
Since I came out in 1998, I have worked as a woman. First, (1998-2005) as office manager and workshop coordinator for Mark Allison Acting Workshops in Pasadena, California. Secondly, (2005-2013) Supervisor of store operations for Las Vegas HQ, a chain of souvenir shops in four Las Vegas casinos (Tropicana, MGM Grand, New York New York, Excalibur).

Friday, 3 October 2014

Interview with Heli Hämäläinen


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Heli Hämäläinen, a married woman from Helsinki, Finland, Senior Customs Officer in Finnish Customs, and a father. Hello Heli!
Heli: Hello Monika, it is my pleasure to meet you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Heli: I am soon 51 years old. I have worked the most of my career as a public servant. I graduated in 1991 from Helsinki School of Economics which is nowadays a part of Aalto University. I got married in 1996 in Keuruu Church that was built in 1892. I am Evangelical Lutheran. My daughter was born in 2002.
In Autumn 2004 I felt that I could no longer suppress my female identity. My life was awful because even the advertisements in bus stops reminded me about my gender. I couldn’t read women’s magazines.
My wife gave me advice to seek professional help and I did. A referral was written to official transsexuality investigations in November 2004 and I met the psychiatrist in February 2005. I was diagnosed transsexual in April 2006 and I changed my forenames in June 2006.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Interview with Shelley Bridgman


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Shelley Bridgman, a British stand-up comic, presenter, actress, and writer who started stand-up in 2004 under the stage name Shelley Cooper before reverted to her real name, the 2012 Silver Stand Up honoree, transgender activist, the author of Stand-up for Yourself: And Become the Hero or Shero You Were Born To Be (2014). Hello Shelley!
Shelley: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Shelley: Not sure what is most relevant. I have several roles as in addition to Stand-up I am a Psychotherapist working with children and adults who have issues with their gender identity. I also do a weekly podcast when I interview people. 
Monika: I have conducted over 200 interviews and I find it striking that so many of my transgender interviewees are stand-up comics: Alison Grillo, Sally Goldner, Natasha Muse, Julia Scotti and now you …
Shelley: I think it is something about having a voice. Many of us, especially transwomen, lose status when we transition but I think I reconnected with my love of comedy after transitioning. It helped me find a vehicle to express myself.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Interview with Bobbie Lang


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Bobbie Lang, a transgender activist from USA, businesswoman, blogger, Viet Nam veteran, the author of "Transgender Christian in Chains". Hello Bobbie!
Bobbie: Hi Monika, thank you so much for asking me to be part of this wonderful group of people who are doing so much to advance the acceptance and civil rights of the trans community.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Bobbie: Well to start with I started my transition in 1981 and had GRS in 1984. At that time the term “transgender” had not even been coined yet. We were called transsexuals and even the professional community knew very little of this dysphoria. Many of the medical and therapeutic specialists thought this disorder could be alleviated with extensive and lengthy psychological treatment. Sadly, I find this approach is still widely believed within most denominational Christian churches.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Interview with Fernanda Milán


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Fernanda Milán, a Guatemalan native, the first transgender person to be granted asylum in Denmark. Hello Fernanda! 
Fernanda: Hi Monika! Thank you for your time and for being so patient with the delay of the interview. I hope you are fine!
Monika: The fight for your asylum in 2013 was a challenging task. Let’s go back to those times. Could you say a few words about your life and Guatemala and emigration to Denmark?
Fernanda: Well, as you say the fight for the asylum was very challenging in so many ways. As for Guatemala, it is a difficult place for a transgender woman. I would like to be more general about the issue of living there because this is the context that I happen to have shared with so many people.
It is an environment of rejection by your family circles, friends, education institutes and work places. When you decide to start transition or to come out of “the closet”, you live ostracized from everything that you know because in general all the girls back there feel that they were born female, which is in contrast with the public opinion that being a trans woman is a choice.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Interview with Jennifer Chavez


Monika: It is my pleasure and honor to interview Jennifer Michelle Chavez a transgender activist and master auto technician from the U.S.A. Hello Jennifer!
Jennifer: Hello Monika and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you!
Monika: Could you please say a few words about yourself?
Jennifer: I would be happy too! I am a 57 year old woman who made the decision to transition 5 years ago! I finally found the courage to face my condition after 52 years and a whole lifetime of stress and turmoil! I knew I was different as early as 4 years of age, and as I grew I learned more about it and what it was called.
I tried to transition when I was a teenager and moved away to Los Angeles from my native Texas, but was thwarted by the many obstacles I encountered. My only regret at this point is that I wish I could have done it back then, but I would not have the greatest gift a person can have and that is my son Cody!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Interview with Rebecca Root


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Rebecca Root, a talented British actress, voice and speech teacher, stand-up comedian, playing the lead role in “Boy Meets Girl” - a recently commissioned sitcom for BBC2 about the relationship between a transgender female in her 40s and a cis-gender male in his… 20s. Hello Rebecca!
Rebecca: Hi Monika, thanks for the warm welcome!
Monika: We are closer and closer to the premiere date of “Boy Meets Girl”. Is your excitement growing?
Rebecca: Certainly! It’s hopefully going to make a bit of a splash. I hope the response will be as upbeat as the early signs have indicated. Having said that, we have a way to go yet – filming should commence in the new year and I don’t know when it will actually hit the screens.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Interview with Denise Brogan-Kator


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Denise Brogan-Kator, a lawyer, transgender activist, Senior Legislative Counsel for the Family Equality Council, a national LGBT rights organization, the former Executive Director of Equality Michigan, co-founder of the Rainbow Law Center, recipient of the 2009 Pride Banquet Committee’s Choice Award, businesswoman, U.S. Navy Submarine Force veteran. Hello Denise!
Denise: Hello, Monika! Thank you for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Denise: Well, the thing that is most present for me, these days, is the birth of my first grand-daughter. So, despite all my accomplishments and activities, being a grandmother is currently my most important and most exciting job. And, family is – and has always been – at the root of my passions. It is such a natural fit for me to work for the Family Equality Council.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Interview with Felicia Flames


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Felicia Flames, a transgender pioneer, diva, icon and Screaming Queen, 27 years survivor of AIDS and a Vietnam Veteran - one of the participants of the 1966 Compton's Cafeteria Riot, which was one of the first documented instances of transgender resistance to authority in the USA. Hello Felicia!
Felicia: Hello Monika and thank you for interviewing me, it is an honor for me.
Monika: I must say you can boast one of the most impressive LGBT legends. The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred in August 1966, so it preceded the more infamous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. However, it is not so well-known …
Felicia: You have to remember it was in the 1960’s, and to a lot of people thought we were sick, mental, trash and nobody cared whether we lived or died. Our own families abandoned us, and we had nowhere to go. And we were tired of the police harassing us because of who we were meant to be.
We were murdered, killed, thrown in jail, raped and thrown out like trash by our families and friends. And in those days, I hear that the mafia had control of the TL, and all documents to this day were lost and no record of that day except for an unknown newsletter that documented that day. And nothing else.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Interview with Allison Woolbert


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Allison Woolbert, a transgender activist from the USA, Air Force veteran, founder of The Transgender Violence Tracking Portal - a database to track crimes targeting transgender people, and the Executive Director of the Transgender Human Rights Institute. Hello Allison!
Allison: Hi Monika- First, thank you so much for selecting me for being a heroine. It is truly an honor to be able to do an interview with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Allison: Well, I grew up in Silver Bell, Arizona, a remote copper mining community (now a ghost town) where I never quite fit in. I ended up in the Air Force where I absolutely didn’t fit in, and in 2008, I began the process of transition. I finally feel whole as a person, and feel that I truly fit into myself. I’m the CEO of Phoenix Consultants Group, a software development company. I’m also the Founder of the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal and the new Executive Director of the Transgender Human Rights Institute.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Interview with Gia Versace


Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Gia Versace, an American entertainer and beauty pageant queen. Hello Gia!
Gia: Aloha Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Gia: Sure, I was born and raised on the windward side of Oahu in a city called Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Monika: When did you decide that you would like to be a stage artist?
Gia: My fascination with the stage began when I took drama class in high school and it became real clear that I wanted to be a showgirl when I saw my first drag show in a night club called Venus.
Monika: Could you name some of the venues and shows in which you participated?
Gia: I have done shows and many fundraisers and night clubs such as Venus, which is now called Bar 7, and I am currently a showgirl at Fusions Waikiki (home of the two longest running female impersonation shows in Hawaii).

National Showgirl Goddess 2013.

Monika: Have you ever thought about acting?
Gia: Yes, I have a few times.
Monika: You also take part in transgender beauty pageants. Could you say a few words about your pageants and trophies?
Gia: I currently hold the title of National Showgirl Goddess 2013, which is a pageant held on the beautiful island of Maui. I am also a former Queen of Queens 2012 which is a pageant held here on Oahu.
Monika: Being beautiful always produces a lot of girl power and empowerment. Do you often use it?
Gia: Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and I believe that beauty on the inside is what counts most. I use that expression every day and everywhere I go.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you could follow?
Gia: I definitely looked up to older generations such as my Aunties in the community who have paved our way so we can be who we are today.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Gia: The hardest thing about my coming would have to be being accepted by my Father. 
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in the American society?
Gia: I feel that transgendered women have made a huge impact in society in general. I also feel that it is being accepted more nowadays but there is no end we still have a long ways to go.
Monika: We are witnessing more and more transgender ladies coming out. Unlike in the previous years some of them have status of celebrities or are really well-known, just to mention Lana Wachowski in film-directing, Jenna Talackova in modelling, Kate Bornstein in academic life, Laura Jane Grace in music or Candis Cayne in acting. Do you witness the same trend?
Gia: Definitely.

Lovely as usual!

Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Gia: I feel that it’s a huge step towards it.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Gia: I try to keep up especially with issues that face or involve our community and I feel strongly that trans women and men can definitely make a difference in politics.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Gia: Love is important to me not only relationship wise but love from your friends and family as well. Love is what we all need.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors or trends?
Gia: I Love fashion!! As far as what I wear, I like to be versatile in fashion as well as creative. Versace and Dior are a few of my favorite designers.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Gia: Honestly I haven’t thought about writing a book but I love to share my stories and experiences especially to help with the younger generation yet to come. 
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Gia: My next step in life is to achieve my life long goal which is to go back to school for aviation. I want to be a pilot. I have always been fascinated with air planes.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls, thinking about the entertainment career?
Gia: My advice would be to always remember that if entertaining is what makes you happy and is your passion then don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your passion, and you can do anything you put your mind to. Also don’t look at it as a job, entertaining is a hobby or passion and know your worth.
Monika: Gia, thank you for the interview!
Gia: Thank you Monika for this opportunity I am really honored to be a part of your interview!!!

All the photos: courtesy of Gia Versace.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska
 

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Search This Blog