Friday 14 February 2014

Interview with Kelly Summers

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Kelly Summers, an American video blogger from Alaska that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Kelly!
Kelly: Hello Monika.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kelly: I am a 51 year old male to female transsexual who transitioned to full time three years ago. I used to live in California, but now live with my wife in Alaska. We married in Seattle 01-19-2013 as Alaska is not a same sex marriage approved state.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Kelly: I wanted to share my story to show that it is not to late to transition later in life, and hopefully inspire that last bit confidence needed by so many on the edge of transition.

Healing from FFS 2013.

Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Kelly: After 3+ years of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), I have had my facial feminisation surgery (FFS), and breast augmentation (BA) which I am still paying off the final loan on before starting to save “again” for my sexual reassignment surgery (SRS).
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Kelly: Yes, extremely satisfied. My brain was definitely in need of estrogen, starting HRT was like waking up from a bad dream, everything just clicked into place. At the 2 year mark I managed enough growth to be a C cup, which is an extremely good result for being in my 40’s at the time.
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Kelly: I knew I was female at the age of 5. I would cry myself to sleep at night praying to God to make me a girl before morning. However, it was a different world in the 60’s and I did not dare let anyone know my feelings at the time.
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?
Kelly: Yes, of course. When you are trying to live in the wrong body, everyday is a traumatic time. Peer pressure alone is a miserable unfortunate part of growing up. Add being a transsexual to that and it becomes a living hell.

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Kelly: I don’t have any specific transgender role models, I just celebrate the success of any of us that have made it and who are now living as we should have been since birth.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Kelly: Overcoming the fear of course, fear of losing family, friends, my job, my rights, fear of being persecuted and unaccepted by society as a whole, fear of not passing as a woman, and losing all my rights as a human being. Fear is what keeps so many closeted and prevents many from coming out.
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in the USA?
Private photo shoot 2013.
Kelly: Transgender woman in my country today are much better off than when I was in my teens. Acceptance is on the rise. I am happy to see the world becoming a better place for transgendered women in the United States.
I only wish it was easier to get insurance or financial aid to cover our needs here. For most transsexuals in this country the medical care is not covered and is cash up front only.
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?
Kelly: Yes, as I said, the world is far more accepting now than in the past. When before transsexuals coming out would be committed to psychiatric facilities by their own parents, we now see them celebrated on television, movies, and magazines.

At a local pride event 2013.

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Kelly: I am not active in politics myself. Yes, I do think transgender women can make a difference in politics, but that would require a whole new level of acceptance to get them in a position to do so.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Kelly: LOL I live in Alaska which has recently been dubbed as having the worst fashions in the United States. During the winters here everyone looks like an over sized jacket with scarves and boots. I am not a fashionista, could not spout off brand names, but I do enjoy high heels with nice dresses, skinny jeans, and inter-changeable tops, skirts and shorts.
I dress as a woman my age, maybe a little younger, keep my nails manicured, and wear cosmetics appropriate for events I attend. I love leathers. Boots, heels, jackets, skirts tops, all of it. If I could afford it most of my wardrobe would be leather. I guess my look is more of a rocker/biker chic when I have my way.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Kelly: I think transsexual women should be allowed in any women’s beauty pageant, but if people wanted to have pageants for transsexuals only, why not?

Leather Ball with my wife 2013.

Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Kelly: I am heavily involved in my local pride community.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Kelly: I would recommend seeing a GENDER therapist and working out their fears of transition. It is easier said than done but the fear must be overcome, being transgendered is not going away.
The sooner the fear is overcome, the sooner transgendered women can get on with living a life free of fear.
Don’t suffer to the point of suicide, it is far better to transition young than wait decades later to transition and think daily “I wish I would have done this when….”.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Kelly: My next step is financing my SRS and getting to a point where I can wake up in the morning and not be worried about saving money for yet another surgery, to finally be complete and actually be able to save for other things besides transitional procedures.

Fishing for silver salmon 2013.

Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Kelly: I transitioned to full time years ago, meet my forever partner after transitioning, and am now in a wonderful loving relationship with my wife. Yes, I am a very happy woman indeed.
Monika: Kelly, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Kelly: You are most welcome.

All the photos: courtesy of Kelly Summers.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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