Sunday 9 February 2014

Interview with Isley Reust

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Isley Reust, a young American video blogger from California that documents her transition on YouTube. Isley is a traveler and adventurer, picture taker, video maker and producer, and social media celebrity. She is known for her participation in the True Trans with Laura Jane Grace doc-series and her Spectacular Spectacular band. Hello Isley!
Isley: Hi Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Isley: I'm German, I play guitar in a new band called Spectacular Spectacular. We have almost finished recording our debut record. I do photography on the side and I'm also a active video blogger.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Isley: I wanted to help and inspire others and let them know it's okay to be yourself and that once you do take that step you'll be that much happier and you'll love yourself for who you really are. I'm not going to say it's an easy road but it's definitely worth the struggle in the end.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Isley: Hmmm, that's a hard question. I feel pretty far into my transition now and I'm extremely happy with the way my life is at and headed.


Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Isley: I'm extremely happy with my results. Hormone therapy really worked in my favor. It's really weird to see pre-transition photos; I feel like that person never even existed or that was a lifetime ago or bad dream.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Isley: I had the earliest memories of knowing I was different (female) at age 4. Once puberty hit, I knew something was really wrong with me and knew deep inside I was female.
I felt very alone and suppressed. I grew up in a small town so I really had nobody I could talk to about how I was feeling. My sister knew about how I felt from a very young age.
Monika: For most of 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?
Isley:I was depressed most of high school and dropped out. I started doing crystal meth, cocaine, extasy, drinking and tried heroin. I overdosed and caught a lung infection also. Yeah, it was just a bad time.
At 18 I started experimenting with my sexuality and tried dating guys as a gay man but it just felt wrong. Soon after I decided to just accept who I was and be the woman I was meant to be.

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Isley: I would say I really think Laverne Cox is such a amazing woman. I also think Jenna Talackova is such a beautiful woman. I'm friends with her on Instagram and I love seeing her photos. She also liked some of my pics lol. I thought that was pretty awesome.
Laura Jane Grace is an acquaintance of mine and she told me that my videos along with others really inspired her and help her come out. Lana Wachowski is such an amazing and talented director, hands down the most talented lady for sure. She seems so genuine and has a beautiful creative heart.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Isley: For me the hardest thing was just coming out and just telling my family. I've been very lucky and fortunate with the rest of my transition.

Photo shoot in Los Angeles.

Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Isley: I still hear a lot of hate crimes and discrimination which break my heart but I think that the USA is making steps and moving forward to become more accepting of the trans community.
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 in your country?
Isley: I do indeed!

Just resting.

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Isley: I'm not really active in too much politics. I would like to participate more in the future. I think they can make a difference and already have made a huge leap and difference.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Isley: I'm really big into fashion. I love floral dresses, vintage dresses and jackets. I own a million pairs of shoes lol. I actually have a really bad shopping problem.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Isley: I don't really think much of them. To me transgender is just a word it's not what makes you who you are. I think trans woman should be able to be in beauty pageants with cis women and just call it a day. We are women.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Isley: I'm trying to become more involved.

Recording in Los Angeles.

Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Isley: just always be yourself and it will get better. Transition isn't a walk in the park but if you stay positive and keep your head up you'll be some happy in the end.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Isley: I see myself touring and making music. Living in Germany and married with kids. I want a house near the Alps in the forest and want to take pictures and raise a beautiful healthy family.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Isley: I've always been a woman!
Monika: Isley, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!


All the photos: courtesy of Isley Reust.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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