Sunday, 6 April 2014

Interview with Johanna Hackl

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Johanna E. Hackl, 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.

Happy in Berlin.

Monika: Do you keep in touch with the other ladies from the show?
Johanna: At the beginning with some. But I am Austrian, not German. I can feel that I am not so important to them or maybe some are jealous. Who knows? I feel some of them are just concerned about their part in the show and how many new friends or fans on Facebook they get. It's sort of ego-driven. Plus, they are young and have other things in mind than I do.
But there is one who was hated by all the participants cause she was very sexual and direct, but with her, I feel well; because she is different.
Monika: Did you take part in any other TV shows?
Johanna: Yeah, many in Austria. You can find them on my YouTube channel, but it's all in German. And I have a hard Austrian accent :) maybe I should do English subtitles to it.
Monika: What is your general view on transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Johanna: That it's always about being transgendered. Not about your real personality, not about what you have learned from that specific way in your life. Not about how you have survived. Which skills you have developed.
It's often just about the way you look. And that's damn boring. Plus, it's always about being a victim and about how much you suffered, but as far as I am concerned, I feel like a loving sun warrior, not a poor victim. I feel pleased to live such a special life.
Monika: Apart from being a TV celebrity, you are a stewardess. How do you deal with naughty passengers?
Johanna: Hahhaha, that's a good question. Indeed, many passengers are flirting with me and have no clue about who or what I am. In the beginning, it was flattering but after some time I have found out that as a woman you have to be very strict with a man and treat him not very nice and he still adores you. It's strange.
And in the end, it's just about the fantasies that they have caused in the uniform I wear strong makeup and embody the dream of every man. But it has nothing to do with the real me. So, show them exactly where to stop and don't act like a bitch.
Monika: Many girls dream about being a stewardess. Are you satisfied with the job?
 Johanna: No, not at all. Being a stewardess just sounds nice. Sure, I have seen a lot of places and different cultures and I would never wanna miss those experiences, but people usually forget the poor, demanding working conditions in a plane that you have to struggle with. Now I am on part-time cause I teach lots of yoga and shamanism, so it feels great now cause I still have the benefits of being a flight attendant but not suffering too much from jetlags and the lack of oxygen.

Enjoying herself in the Maldives.

Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Johanna: I had one which I adored. It's been Sabrina Andersrum. All the transgenders and Serbian gays in Vienna know her. She is beautiful, sexual and yet, humble and pure.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Johanna: Being alone. Having everyone around you may be against you or at least very touched by your situation. Nothing was normal anymore. You don't feel part of life anymore.
You don't feel human anymore. It's so exhausting. You have to act harder and stricter than every man to survive, though everyone expects you to act as gentle as a woman. It was just exhausting.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in Austrian society?
Johanna: It's good. I mean we are not in the media but I feel most of us got more courageous also because I made my story public. Nowadays many Austrian transgenders don't lose their job anymore during the transition cause they have a role model now and feel stronger to stand for their rights at work and don't let discriminate them. As I did. Besides, we have a great law that made it very easy for transgenders to switch without having any operation.
Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Johanna: I am not sure about that cause. I feel that most transgenders are either very ego-driven and just obsessed with their look or they got aggressive and intolerant and lost the realistic view of life.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Johanna: No, I am not a political person at all in that sense. I do my things in public to show a change. I try to eat vegan, regional, and seasonal. I try to lead a conscious and reflective life. With my work as a yoga teacher, I try to wake up sincerity in people to let them create a more loving environment to live in.

At work in Boeing 777.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Johanna: Oh, love is the most important. Most transgenders hate themselves so much. Yet, I always gave my best to treat myself in a loving way with every step I took.
During every stage of my transition, I told myself that I am a loving human being and deserve to be treated respectfully. I gave myself all the love that I did not get from others. In life, you can give everything that you miss to yourself. Don't wait for anyone else to give you love. Do it yourself.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Johanna: I am not a fashion victim. I try to look nice and beautiful sometimes, but most of the time I look like those typical natural punk lesbians. I prefer being androgynous.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Johanna: I don't know any. I have no TV at home and I am not so much involved in what is going on. 
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Johanna: Yeah, I am about writing a shockingly honest book. Hopefully, it's good enough so I will find a publisher.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Johanna: I am currently working on building up my yoga business. Check out my site, writing my book which has the working title "GleichMut," which means equanimity but in German, it's two words in it. Gleich means 'same' but in the sense of equality and Mut is 'courage'.
And I still have my kid stories which I think are the best outcome for me. And I have many many things in my mind and pray to God that I will receive the opportunities to realize them.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls, struggling with gender dysphoria?
Johanna: Love yourself every day, no matter how you look. Find out who you really are. You are not gender. You are way more than this.
Monika: Johanna, thank you for the interview!

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

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