Monday 28 April 2014

Interview with Leslie Regier

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Leslie Regier, the author of "Unchaining My Truth: Taking Flight on the Wings of a Dream", published by her business, Violet Angel. Hello Leslie!
Leslie: Hi Monika. It is also my pleasure to meet you and have this opportunity to be interviewed. You have presented a professional series of these interviews, and I am privileged to be among them.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Leslie: It's difficult to know where to start. I am a person with so many facets, so many interests, so many passions in life. Some might call me a renaissance woman. I think perhaps at the core I am someone with a strong desire to learn, experience, play, share, and teach throughout my life.
Monika: Why did you decide to write your autobiography?
Leslie: I've always enjoyed writing in one form or another. The desire has varied at different times, but when I went through my gender transition I felt strongly compelled to share my experiences in a way that would openly reach more people. It was not only an outlet for me, but I also felt it would be helpful for others to learn from my experiences and my unusual journey, whether they are transgendered or not.

Friday 25 April 2014

Interview with Nancy Nangeroni

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview longtime transgender activist Nancy Nangeroni. Nancy founded the Boston chapter of The Transexual Menace, a ‘disorganization’ of transgender activists, in 1995. She co-produced and co-hosted GenderTalk for 11 years and GenderVision for 11 programs. She served as Executive Director of the International Foundation for Gender Education and has been Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition since 2008. An MIT-degreed engineer, she worked in the industry for 20+ years, now focuses on providing leadership and tech empowerment to the broader trans community. Hello Nancy!
Nancy: Hi Monika, thanks for inviting me to join your many amazing interviewees! 
Monika: For many years you have been dealing with transgender advocacy. What has been achieved so far and what are the current challenges for transgender people in the USA?
Nancy: When I began volunteer work for IFGE in 1990, there was little respect shown for people expressing or identifying with the ‘opposite’ gender, and any critique of binary gender thinking was relegated to the radical fringe. Now, we have laws in hundreds of jurisdictions protecting people’s right to freedom of gender identity and expression.
Most people in the USA now accept, if still resisting in some areas, the presence of transgender people in “respectable” society. We’ve forged a credible (some say leading) social movement that continues to grow. And we continue to win respect for people who don’t fit into pre-existing definitions, including definitions of what it is to be “transgender.”

Thursday 24 April 2014

Interview with Guta Silveira

Monika: Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Guta Silveira, an inspirational transgender activist from Brazil, actress, author of two biographical books: "Homens Não Choram" (1994) and "Transexual A História de Uma Vida" (2005). Hello Guta!
Guta: Hello Monika! Hello girls!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Guta: My story doesn’t deviate much from what usually happens to other transsexual girls. I was born with the body of a boy and I was raised as one. Despite that, when I was 3 years old I went to the sports club with my mother and we used to go to the girl`s bathroom and that was normal to me, part of my universe.
One day I went to the boys' bathroom and I was stunned by what I saw. Handsome men stirred something in me, but at that age, I didn’t know what it was. I grew up feeling different from my schoolmates, not knowing what my true place was. I loved to use my mother’s makeup on myself when there was nobody watching, and used rags to fake long hair, wrapped myself in bedsheets to make believe they were dresses, it was all very fun and pleasing.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Interview with Fay Presto

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Fay Presto, aka Letitia Winter, a British premier close-up magician, voted The Magic Circle Close-up Magician of the Year 2012, former Tatler 'Party Entertainer of the Year, Gold Star Member of The Inner Magic Circle.
Her first job was as a lab assistant at an atomic energy research company. She had to leave The Magic Circle when she began her transition, regaining the membership in 1991 when The Magic Circle voted to allow women members. Her main interest is close-up magic; she is known for her "bottle through the table" trick, which was ranked as one of the greatest magic tricks of all time by Channel 4's 50 Greatest Magic Tricks. Hello Fay!
Fay: Hello Monika!
Monika: According to Wikipedia, magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. Why do people need magic?
Fay: Magic, my kind of magic, is part of the entertainment industry. People have a fundamental need to be entertained, after air, water, food, and shelter, comes entertainment; be it folk tales, shamanic dancing, or cave paintings that flicker in the firelight.
We go out, kill the mammoth, bring it home, skin it and cook it and then gather in the cave behind the fire and tell tales to help us forget the sabre-toothed tiger on the other side of the flames.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Interview with Melissa Sklarz

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Melissa Sklarz with whom I would like to discuss the role of transgender women in US politics, culture, and society. Melissa is a transgender advocate and activist, delegate to the Democratic National Convention in New York, presiding over Stonewall Democratic Club. Hello Melissa! 
Melissa: Hi Monika!!! Thanks for doing this and for reaching out to New York City!! 
Monika: I am tempted to ask about your family roots. Your family surname sounds Polish …
Melissa: The family surname Sklarz means glassworker or window cleaner, depending on which part of Poland or the Czech Republic you are from. My estimate is my family left Poland in the late 18th Century and then went to Munich for 3 generations. My family arrived in New York City in the late 1850s.
Monika: Could you say a few words about your career so far?
Melissa: I transitioned in the early 1990s and then became a peer counselor at the Gender Identity Project in the mid-90s. People asked about resources for trans people and I discovered there were none. I started getting involved with the government and the political system at that point, and have continued on from there.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Interview with Johanna Kamermans

Monika: Today is my pleasure and honor to interview Johanna Kamermans (born 1938), a writer, translator, and former striptease dancer from the Netherlands. For nearly 15 years, she worked in cabarets in Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg as a striptease dancer named Gina de Senfal (for a short time as Gigi Deloran), the author of the autobiographical novel titled "Schlauchgelüste" (2012) and other 10 books of all kinds. Hello Johanna!
Johanna: Hello dear Monika! Many thanks for your invitation and I am very glad that you give me the possibility to say something about my transgender life, especially in the former times. I always say: “Future and past belong together, especially for us transgender people, because also we – like other people too - become elder and elder (help !)…”
Monika: You come from a very cosmopolitan family with parental roots in Germany (mother), the Netherlands (father), and Flanders (paternal ancestors)...
Johanna: Yes, in 1933 my beautiful mother came from Gelsenkirchen-Buer (Ruhr-Region) to Vlissingen (a seaside resort on the Dutch North Sea coast). She worked there in the famous “Grand Hotel Britannia” and there she met my father. I wrote 4 genealogical books about both of them and my worldwide family.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Interview with Jennifer Cohen-Taylor

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Jennifer Cohen-Taylor, a video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Jennifer!
Jennifer: Hello Monika! I am honored to be one of many so highly admired women. Thank you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jennifer: Sure, I have always known that I was a woman. From very young, about 5, I knew it well. There was never dysphoria at that age. I lived as me. I was happy. But as I grew older, I began to see that my body was not like other girls. That’s when the issues began. It took me a long time – 44 years, to finally come out and be Jenny, but today I am happy and free – the woman I have always known.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Jennifer: Well, I have always loved video as a medium to share and connect with people. I look into the lens and I imagine people like you on the other side. I connect with people using real emotions and real words from my heart. YouTube allows me to do that well.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Interview with Rachel Love

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Rachel Love, a radio host, coach, and intuitive instructor, the author of the books titled “Things My Mother Should Have Told Me Before I had My Manhood Removed“ (2013) and “The Day God Died” (2013). Hello Rachel!
Rachel: Hello Monika, thanks for this opportunity to be interviewed by you. 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Rachel: Seems to me that you have said a whole bunch about me already. Perhaps I can add that I like to shop, travel and take strolls along the beach with that special person. Lol
Monika: Why did you decide to write your Memoir “Things My Mother Should Have Told Me Before I had My Manhood Removed“?
Rachel: Friends have been after me for years to write about my life and experiences that lead up to where I am now. This book is a part of that path.
I started to write many times the story of my childhood and stopped before finishing. The past has a way of haunting me and the memories and feelings resurface when I write. So I had allowed the ghosts of my past to discourage me and I stopped writing it many times over the years.
Over those same years, I have had people offer to help write it for me. But then they fail to do so. So just before I wrote this book “Things My Mother Should Have Told Me.” I was working with another author to finally write my childhood story. Unfortunately or fortunately the results were a partially finished book.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Interview with Laura Calvo

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Laura Calvo, an American politician, transgender advocate, served as Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon, the first transgender woman elected to the Democratic National Committee, Vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee LGBT Caucus, according to Just Out - one of the top 25 LGBT community leaders of the past quarter-century. She’s been awarded the IFGE Trinity Award, and Spirit of Pride Award by Portland Oregon’s annual Gay Pride organization. Hello Laura!
Laura: Hello Monika! I was pleasantly surprised to be included in your interviews. 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Laura: I’m a child of the ’60s growing up in the Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco. In the mid 70’s I went to work for the city of San Francisco as a paramedic. My first political action was helping with Harvey Milk’s campaign. I then moved to rural Southern Oregon in the ’80s and eventually to Portland Oregon in 2004, where I currently live.
Along the way, I eventually found myself and have no regrets other than I wish that I had the foresight way back then to have found myself earlier. I’m not sure how much that would have changed where I am at now, but if I’m honest perhaps I would not be involved with politics as I am now.

Monday 14 April 2014

Interview with Amy Brosnahan

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Amy Brosnahan, an inspirational transgender girl from New Zealand, finalist of the Battle of the Babes, a New Zealand beauty pageant. Hello Amy!
Amy: Hello, it’s great to be doing an interview, Monika. I feel very honored. 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Amy: Well, I’m 18 years old, and I was born in Auckland, New Zealand. I like to dance and sing - not that I am particularly good at it though. I am a really sociable person and I love being around my friends and people who support me. I’m half Samoan – my dad is Samoan and my mum is Pakeha (born in New Zealand but of Irish descent).
I’m just a normal girl who happens to be seen as different, and quite often misunderstood. I consider myself to be a very strong person and usually roll with the knocks, but occasionally things will push me right back down again and it takes a little while to bounce back. But I always do.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Interview with Carys Massarella

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Carys Massarella, a doctor of emergency medicine at McMaster University and Lead Physician of the Transcare Program at Quest Community Health Centre in St. Catharine’s, Canada. She grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and graduated from the University of Western Ontario. Hello Carys!
Carys: Hello Monika!
Monika: You are one of few ‘non-pathologizing’ trans-care health providers in Ontario. Could you explain what ‘Non-Pathologizing’ stands for?
Carys: A non-pathologizing approach to transgender care essentially implies that there is no diagnosis to make with transgender people. The idea that this is a pathologic process is patently absurd. There is no inherent biological risk in being transgendered.
In that I mean by being transgendered there is no measurable biological effect in a negative way. The documented poor outcomes for trans-identified individuals are a product of issues related to the social determinants of health that affect all such marginalized populations such as poverty, homelessness, access to health care, and violence. These are corrected at the political level with advocacy from health care providers and transgender activists as key players.
So for me, there is no diagnosis essentially to make. I allow transgender people to claim their identity and then provide safe and medically appropriate access to cross-gender hormone therapy and surgery plus support through the transition. That is the essence of what I do.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Interview with Michelle Austin

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Michelle Austin, an American entertainer and adult movie actress, 2013 Tranny Award winner for Voluptuous Model. Not only an entertainer but producer, director, and video editor. A powerful businesswoman! Hello Michelle!
Michelle: Hello Monika! Thank you for having me!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Michelle: Well, as you all know already I am Michelle Austin. I have been in the adult industry for four years now. I don’t just work in front of the camera, I work a lot behind the scenes as well.
Monika: How did you come into the adult movies industry?
Michelle: At 21 I was early into my transition when Shemale Yum had approached me to do a set for them. At that time I had been on the cover of Ladylike Magazine and really wasn’t ready to be in porn. I didn’t think I wanted to be seen as a sex object that early on in my transition. Fast forward to being 30, and I was asked again by Shemale Yum, and I was ready in my life and had been full-time and comfortable in my own skin by then to do it!

Friday 11 April 2014

Interview with Jessie Jacobson

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Jessie Jacobson, an inspirational woman from New York and Los Angeles, now living in London, United Kingdom, a specialist in psychotherapy and private counseling with a focus on transsexual, transgender, intersex, and other gender-variant individuals; in addition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual clients. Jessie also lectures on trans issues and therapy and has taught graduate psychology courses in Human Sexuality. Hello Jessie!
Jessie: Hello Monika. I’ve seen your site and have found the interviews both educational and enjoyable. I really appreciate what you’re doing and am honored to participate. 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jessie: I identify as a woman or a transwoman. I’m not too bothered about specific terminologies although there are certain names and terms I would prefer not to have applied to me. I believe all of us should be free to choose the terminology for ourselves that we believe is most suitable and that none of us should attempt to assign terminology to others. I transitioned somewhat late in life despite knowing since as far back as I can remember that I identified as female rather than male.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Interview with Sally Goldner

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Sally Goldner, an Australian drummer, singer, and stand-up comic, Executive Director for TransGender Victoria, treasurer of Bisexual Alliance Victoria, and treasurer of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, listed in The Age Top 100 Creative and Influential People in Melbourne in 2011. Hello Sally!
Sally: Great to be with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Sally: I’ve been physically alive since October 1965 but only spiritually alive since April 1995 which was when I finally received accurate information about trans. At that point, all the pieces of my life began to make sense. I realized my need to affirm my female identity permanently about 3 years later and in between those 2 ties, I got to the truth about my sexual orientation, which I now define as bi/pansexual – like most things, it’s an evolution. 
Monika: How did you start your artistic career?
Sally: I started out more with singing and then was invited to the spoken word. Stand-up and character comedy was something I wanted to do deep down and started in 2003, although it’s been on the backburner since about 2008 due to being busy with advocacy and personal reasons.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Interview with Andie Davidson

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Andie Davidson, a publisher, writer, blogger, musician, and author of "Realisations" (2012). Hello Honey!
Andie: Hi Monika, it’s great to join you here, and in such a company.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Andie: No! I talk far too much! But I can try. I live on the south coast of the UK and work as a technical writer in an engineering company. I was married for over 30 years and have two grown-up children. I’m recently divorced, but happy to have found my true self after 55 years of ignorance and another couple of years sorting it out.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Interview with Riah Roe

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Riah Roe, an inspirational American girl, transgender activist, and advocate, known for her transgender activism at Concordia College, a private college in Moorhead, Minnesota. Hello Riah!
Riah: Hi Monika, thank you so much for that kind introduction.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Riah: Well, as you mentioned, my name is Riah (Rye-uh) Roe. I currently call Minneapolis Minnesota my home. I moved here during the summer of 2013 shortly after I graduated from Concordia College in western Minnesota.
Throughout my studies there I focused primarily on critical issues within the field of gender and sexuality. Now, being a more conservative private college there really was not a program for that so I ended up with a double major in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Women's Studies.
As for recreationally, I absolutely love spending time with my dear friends. I went to roughly twenty-three schools as a child and so I never really felt very connected to say a town or family members outside of my single-parent family.
However, a consistent theme throughout my life has been befriending like-minded individuals (usually outcasts) and sharing experiences together. It was inevitable that one day that experience sharing would eventually develop into social justice advocacy.

Monday 7 April 2014

Interview with Robyn Alice McCutcheon

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Robyn Ann Jane Alice McCutcheon, an inspirational American woman, diplomat (Foreign Service Officer -- FSO) who has served at U.S. embassies in Uzbekistan, Russia, Romania, author of a number of publications on Russian and Soviet history, a former engineer on NASA projects including Hubble Space Telescope, author of a web journal titled Transgender in State. This year she is working at the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC, where she also serves as president of GLIFAA, the LGBT+ pride association for U.S. foreign affairs' agencies. Hello Robyn!
Robyn: Hi, Monika! I've enjoyed your profiles of transgender heroines, many of whom are my personal heroines. It's quite an honor that you would want to include me in that number!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Robyn: Well, I'm 59 going on 29, divorced, and happier and more excited about the world than I've ever been. I come from a Scotch-Irish family but fell in love with the Russian language and "things Russian" when I was in the university.
I grew up in the 60s in the early days of the space program. That's how it is that I ended up with two careers: 25 years of working on NASA projects and now 10 years of working for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Interview with Johanna E.

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Johanna E., an inspirational Austrian woman, stewardess, yoga instructor, and celebrity star from the German reality show about transgender people titled “Transgender - Mein Weg in den richtigen Körper”. Hello Johanna!
Johanna: Hi Monika, I feel very happy about this interview.
Monika: Why did you decide to apply for the casting to “Transgender - Mein Weg in den richtigen Körper”?
Johanna: It was pure instinct and ambition. When I saw "Transgender" for the first time two years ago, I have felt envy and a strong need to participate in that TV show as well. There was no certain reason, I just wanted to be part of that. I considered it as my next goal.
Monika: What are your impressions about the participation in that show?
Johanna: My impression is that the production team is really serious about the topic and about us, the participants. Nothing respectless was shown in the shows though they could have. For example, there were pictures of me attending an erotic dance class where I did not hide my gender and you could see everything because I wore tight leggings. But they did not show. On the other side, the show is quite superficial cause it's more about operations.

Saturday 5 April 2014

Interview with Julie Nemecek

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Rev. Dr. Julie Nemecek, an American transgender activist, lecturer, professor, ordained Baptist minister, and Presbyterian Church elder. She was born in Chicago, Illinois but Michigan has been home for many years. In 2007 she hit the national headlines when she was fired from Spring Arbor University when she came out as a transgender professor. In 2008 Julie was appointed co-executive director for the LGBT civil rights organization Michigan Equality to become the first transgender person to serve as executive director for a statewide civil rights organization. Hello Julie!
Julie: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Julie: I am 63 and retired, but still active for LGBTQ rights and equality. I will have been married 42 years this June; have 3 boys – all married – and 5 grandchildren with another on the way.
Monika: In 2007 you made headlines for being fired by Spring Arbor University after saying you were going to transition into a woman. Are you still bitter about that act of discrimination?
Julie: Not really. I have had a lot of support from former colleagues and students. It was mainly the Board that had issues (fearing lost revenue and/or students). I worked for 18 months AFTER they knew I was trans and transitioning.
We reached a mediated settlement to my Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint after 13 hours of negotiation over two days. They knew they were in a difficult position because they taught the standards of care that I was following and had admitted a transgender student to a graduate program based on her Christian witness.
One positive outcome was that their act of discrimination brought me over 100 media interviews in 2007 including Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and even Christianity Today. This, along with two other highly publicized trans stories in early 2007, had a collective impact of bringing trans issues to the forefront of public thought.

Friday 4 April 2014

Interview with Maki Gingoyon

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Maki Gingoyon, aka Maki Eve Mercedes, a Filipino trans woman beauty queen, most well known for winning Queen of Cebu 2010, and being one of the Queens for Super Sireyna 2013. Hello Maki!
Maki: Hey Monika! Thanks for having me on your blog. And it is nice to meet someone like you, a fellow transgender woman making a difference in promoting a good image among trans women.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Maki: I am 24, turning 25 this year, and I am a transgender woman from the Philippines. I studied BS Psychology, unfortunately, I was not able to finish it due to some family issues, which challenged me to be independent and work my a** out by applying for a call center job. This is a very common job opportunity in the Philippines, especially for 2nd-year college students who want to work. That actually helped me to support myself and my transitioning.
And currently, I work as a digital online marketing director for a transgender dating site together with my boyfriend.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Interview with Kenna Henderson

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Kenna Henderson, an American writer, ghostwriter, editor, and the author of the book titled "I'm Not The Man I Used To Be" (2012). Hello Kenna!
Kenna: Hello! I’m very flattered that you would consider me for an interview. I see all the lovely ladies you have talked with and wonder “What on Earth am I doing here?”.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kenna: I’m sure you’ve heard the term “late bloomer”. I was born in 1941, knew without a doubt by age six that I was transgender, and I kept it secret for more than five decades. I don’t remember how I learned it was something to be ashamed of, but I had no relatable examples in the media and no one I could talk to.
It was only in 1994, when I gained access to the internet, that I began to understand what I was dealing with and realized that there were a lot of other people like me. From that point on, I began to evolve. It took another ten years or so for me to know and accept exactly where I fit on the gender spectrum - and find peace.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Interview with Tammy Powers

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Tammy Powers, an American transgender activist, the owner of the bike shop in San Francisco. Hello Tammy!
Tammy: Hi, thank you for contacting me. I’m glad you want to ask me some questions about me and my bicycle shop, A Tran’s Bay Bike Shop.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Tammy: Sure, I’m a businesswoman, part-time stand-up comedian, helpful, sincere, trustworthy, tenacious, lover of dogs, and I make the best vegetarian lasagna you ever had.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Interview with Dallas Denny

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Dallas Denny, a writer, editor, behavior analyst, pioneer, and leader in the transgender rights movement in the USA, recipient of IFGE's Trinity and Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement Awards and Real Life Experience's Transgender Pioneer Award. Hello Dallas!
Dallas: Hi, Monika, and thanks so much for having me!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Dallas: Let’s see, what do I want to say about myself… I live in a tiny town called Pine Lake, population 800, which happens to be in the middle of Metropolitan Atlanta, just 10 miles from downtown. It was started in the 1930s as a lake community resort so Atlantans could vacation in the country.
Today Pine Lake still looks like a girl scout camp, heavily wooded with cabins and cottages and of course a lake, but the city extends 50 miles past it! My house is mere feet from the lake, and all of the lake is a park. The town is filled with artists and interesting people of all sorts—and several other transpeople live here.

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