Sunday 16 February 2014

Interview with Taylore

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Taylore (aka moonfire1777), a video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Taylore!
Taylore: Hello Monika! It’s a pleasure to take part in this interview.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Taylore: Well, I’m 26 years old, and in addition to being an active Video Vlogger, I am a graduate student. I’m currently pursing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree (M.A.T.) through a Transition to Teaching program at my university.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with minors in Mathematics and Language Arts, and my ultimate career aspiration is to teach mathematics at the high school level.
I have been transitioning since the summer of 2008, and I underwent Sexual Reassignment Surgery in 2009.

Items for her future math classroom.

Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Taylore: Initially, I didn’t like the idea of exposing my life and transition to the public. I wanted to live stealth.
However, I’ve had the privilege of undergoing HRT and SRS at a young age. In the summer of 2010, I decided to start vlogging because I felt I could empower others through my experiences. 
Throughout my time on YouTube, I’ve made and taken down videos based on certain stages of my life. For instance, when I decided to pursue a career in education, I took down many videos because I feared what the exposure might do to my professional career.
As I’ve grown and matured, I’ve become less afraid of that, and I just monitor the content of my videos closely.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Taylore: I would say I’m at that stage in my transition where my gender identity is secondary to all my other life goals. I spent most of my early twenties tackling my transition and dealing with surgery.
Now, I’m focusing on finding my place in the world beyond all of that. Right now, my primary goal is to teach mathematics, so that takes priority in my life. I would also like to travel more because I didn’t get to experience much during the early stages of transition-besides, of course, transitioning.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Taylore: Yes, I would say I am satisfied. The results aren’t perfect, but that’s to be expected. They’ve allowed me to pass completely and to be a fully functional and happy person. 
Monika: Could you describe your childhood? When did you feel for the first time that you should not be a boy or man?
Taylore: I knew I was different since the age of about three. Like most trans women, I was fascinated with Ariel and the idea of replacing unwanted genitalia with a tail. I didn’t know what to call what I was experiencing though.
My parents didn’t understand my behavior either, so they just allowed me to be feminine, assuming I was a very unique child. I did have a very happy childhood. My parents allowed me to express my female identity through toys and role playing, and that kept me happy for awhile. When I grew older and could no longer deal with the gender constraints placed on me, my parents grew to support me in my decision to transition.

At A-Kon, Anime Convention in Texas.

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? 
Taylore: Surprisingly, I didn’t deal with much discrimination at my university initially, even though it was a private, Catholic institution. Before I received my SRS, I was forced to live in the male wing, but the Resident Director at the time was very accommodating. She placed me right by the exit door to my building.
Therefore, many people never suspected I actually lived there. I was either in my room, or, when I left for class, I slipped out, unnoticed. It wasn’t until I started dating that I really experienced discrimination.
I would date someone, and eventually tell, and they would tell someone else until everyone knew. Some men who found me attractive would refuse to associate or date me for fear their friends would judge them.
This really affected me deeply, and I struggled concentrating on my studies. It wasn’t until I transferred to a bigger, public institution for my graduate studies that I felt unburdened by rumors. With a much wider and diverse student population, it’s harder for these things to spread, so very few people know about my transition at school.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow? 
Taylore: Yes! I would say, like many trans women, I admire Janet Mock and Laverne Cox. They are very classy and successful women who are giving a voice to a group that has long been voiceless. Once I establish myself as a teacher, I hope to do my part to reform the education system in such a way that children will no longer have to fear going to school or even using the bathroom as the gender in which they feel the most comfortable.

She tries her best to keep herself happy.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Taylore: The hardest thing about coming out was definitely reconciling my former religious views with my decision to transition. I grew up a devout Catholic, and so I was taught that people just didn’t do these things. That’s part of the reason I chose to attend a Catholic school for my undergraduate degree.
I thought that if I had a chance to participate in more religious centered classes, I would lose my desire to transition. That never happened, of course, so I made a difficult choice to pursue my version of happiness, and I have no regrets about it.
Nowadays, I just try to live my life as a positive and happy person. I’m not sure what, exactly, I believe about God or religion now, so I just choose to be kind and love others. 
Monika: What is your general view on the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Taylore: Women in the United States are definitely in a better position than they were twenty or even ten years ago. YouTube and the media have given trans men and women an outlet to express themselves.
As a result, many people are becoming aware that we exist, and not even just that we exist but that we’re normal people with emotions and dreams just like everyone else. We just happen to be born transgender. I think we have a long way to go still in terms of acceptance, but I remain positive and hopeful for future progress in this country.

Her Mom and Dad - her personal heroes.

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?
Taylore: Yes, I have witnessed the same trend. It’s really great. All of those women are so wonderful and put so much on the line for the sake of our community. They keep me inspired to make videos and, one day, give back in some great way too.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Taylore: I, myself, am not the most active person in politics, at least not while I’m focusing on my education. However, before I decided to go into teaching, I thought about attending law school, so I was enrolled in a semester of law classes. During that time, I had the unique experience of making the case for more gender friendly bathroom policies for trans- women. I was surprised how uneducated, and even close-minded, some of my classmates were during my presentation.
So, yeah, I think it’s important for trans-women to be involved in politics to push for equal legislation, because I’m not sure anyone else will. The good news is, there are, in fact, many trans-women who remain active in politics, and I hope to be involved too. Like I said before, I think there definitely needs to be a place in our school system for trans-children, and successful lobbying will ensure this.

Modeling Japanese Fashion for Can2 Images.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Taylore: I love fashion, and I take pride in my clothing style. Of course, like many girls who transition, dressing up is one of the most exciting things about the process!
I love Japanese and Asian fashion in general, and specifically, I love to sport flower patterned day dresses and high-waist, a-line skirts. For work, I try to keep it classy with blazers and pencil skirts, but I always make try to be feminine and chic!
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Taylore: I don’t have a negative opinion on them, because I think people should do whatever they think makes them happy.
However, I guess I would like to see less of a focus on making uniquely focused transgender beauty pageants and more of a focus on making trans-women a part of beauty pageants for women in general, like Miss America or Miss Universe.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
Taylore: Unfortunately, the LGBT community isn’t big where I live. Because of that, I choose to remain an active member of the community through YouTube.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Taylore: I would say that making the decision to transition is definitely one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make in your life. You will inevitably lose friends, and even family, because of it. However, you have to put your happiness first. There’s no point to life if you’re just going to be miserable all the time. We all have our struggles, whether trans or cis, but we do what we can to make the best of our lives and personal circumstances.
I couldn’t face waking up everyday hating the person I saw in the mirror, so I pushed myself through every struggle. If you’re afraid, it’s OK. We all were afraid to transition when we started.
However, you have the right to be a version of yourself that can bring you fulfillment. Hold onto that right, and realize that you are a strong person, because if you can do this, you can do anything. People discriminate because they are ignorant, and don’t let their ignorance stop you from being happy. You are beautiful and brave.

The love of her life, her dog, Yuki.

Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Taylore: Right now, I just want to get my degree and start teaching as soon as I can. I would like to move to another state, and maybe spend a few years teaching abroad too.
In five to seven years, I would like to have an established career, and I hope I will have taken steps to make my family and community proud. Love with a nice and dependable man would be nice too, haha.
Monika: Could you say that you are a happy woman now?
Taylore: I am happy! I face difficulties in my life like everyone else, but I get through them. I’ve done more than most to figure out who am I am, and for that, I am a much more wise and fulfilled person.
Monika: Taylore, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!

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

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