Thursday 22 May 2014

Interview with Madi Madsen

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Madi Madeleine Kruse Madsen, a Danish transgender activist, and owner of a beauty parlor. Hello Madi!
Madi: Hi Monika – thank you for inviting me to do this interview.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Madi: I am 55 years old now, and I spend the first 50 years of my life living as a man – even though I have always known that I would prefer to be a woman. So I have spent the last 5 years transitioning from man to woman.
Monika: You are the owner of a beauty parlor. Which special treatments do you offer to your customers?
Madi: We actually have two beauty parlors – and we do a total of 40 - 50 treatments for customers each day. I have been working with this for about a year now, and I have expanded the business from one small shop doing about 5 treatments every day to where we are now – 10 times as large.
We mainly offer 3 types of treatments – normal facial treatment, massages, and slimming treatment with Lipo Laser and Cavitation equipment.
Monika: Which beauty treatment is the most popular this year?
Madi: We do a special facial treatment with diamond dermabrasion and special Swiss creams that are applied to the skin with 24 karat gold equipment. It is my own invention – the special gold and diamond treatment – and it is very popular – and very efficient. 
Monika: You are invited to take part in many TV programs about transgender issues in Denmark...
Madi: Yes, last year I was the main character in a much-seen TV show, and I used that to create awareness that transgender people exist and that they should be accepted in the same way as other people.
Monika: At the time of your transition did you have any transgender role models that you could follow?
Madi: No, I did not have any real role models. I had met with some other transgender people and that convinced me that it would be possible for me to transition.

In her beauty parlor.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Madi: Well, I lost many things during the transition. I had 25 years of experience in the IT business and had an important and well-paid job in that business. I lost that job. I had also been married for 5 years to what I thought was a clever and understanding wife- I lost that wife. I also had a very good business breeding dogs – and I lost that. So I had to start from scratch again and build up a whole new career.
Monika: A few weeks ago Jared Leto received his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" as transgender Rayon. What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers or books so far? 
Madi: I don’t think that transgender characters in films, newspapers, and books benefit the transgender community very much. They are fictional characters and we need some real role models in order to benefit the transgender situation.
For each country, we need 3 important role models: at least one transgender pop star – a transgender politician – and a transgender TV host, in one of the more serious TV programs. Those will be role models that will benefit the understanding of transgender people among the general population. 
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in Danish society?
Madi: The present situation of transgender women is not very good. About 80% are unemployed and on some kind of public welfare – and only a minority manages to create a normal kind of life for themselves. The Danish laws for transgender transition have been very old-fashioned, and that has created many problems.
Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Madi: No I don’t think so – there are too few transgender people to make a difference. But human rights play an important role in creating good conditions for transgender. 
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Madi: Yes, I am active in politics. I work with a few other carefully selected transgender people in the organization FATID – which is a group of politically active transgender in Denmark. FATID has definitely made a difference.
This year we can look forward to three significant improvements for transgender in Denmark: 1) We will have a new law passed that allows you to change your gender legally without any demands for physical sex change or operations. 2) The Danish law for public health will get a new and modern section about transgender so they are no longer considered mentally unstable persons. 3) We will get a new public code of treatment practice for transgender, that takes into account that transgender people are a varied group, that wants different kinds of treatment and prefers different kinds of lives.
I also have many political contacts, and I frequently have meetings with members of the Danish parliament to brief them, about the transgender area.
Monika: Is there anyone in the Danish transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the USA in the 60s and 70s for gay activism?
Madi: I have worked with all the different organizations for transgender in Denmark, and there is one person, who has made a huge difference, and that is Ms. Irene Haffner. A transgender herself, she has made a huge difference and done so much political work. The improvements we see this year are to a large extent thanks to her.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Madi: Oh – love in my life. Yeh, that is the big problem. It is important for me – but it is also so difficult for me to make it work. It's much easier for me to build a big business than finding someone to love. I do have some very good girlfriends – but I have not been able to find somebody to love. 
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Madi: I am almost always working – so I usually wear my work clothes – black dresses or black skirts and blouses. So I am always wearing black clothes. Very easy when I have to dress.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Madi: No, that is something you can do when you get old. However, I don’t plan to get old.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Madi: Yes, I am always working on new projects for my business. We have to expand it all the time and come up with new ideas. So we will soon begin to remove tattoos with YAG laser, remove spider veins and start new facial treatments. On the transgender side, my next project will be to create a counseling center for transgender.
Monika: Having transitioned yourself, what would you recommend to all transgender women struggling with gender dysphoria?
Madi: I have transitioned myself and I know how difficult it is. So my advice will be to think very carefully about it – and make a good plan. It is not easy to change your sex – so you need to plan ahead and anticipate the difficulties. If you do transition – don’t get stuck with the transgender community – that is not good for you. Do your transitioning and move on to a normal life. 
Monika: Madi, thank you for the interview!

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

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