Monday 30 June 2014

Interview with Mina Caputo

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Mina Caputo, an American singer, the lead singer, and a founding member of the New York heavy metal band Life of Agony. Hello Mina!
Mina: Hi Hun!!! Greetings! Blessings!
Monika: I have just listened to your first solo album as a woman titled “As Much Truth As One Can Bear” (2013) and I like it a lot. I love both lyrics and music. In the first song “Identity” you sing “… I’m sure that I’m not a woman…” It is rather a surprising line from the woman you have always been …
Mina: Well the correct lyrics to one of the verses are: I am not a man/I am not a woman/all I could taste is my burning heart/I’m sure I’m not a man/I’m sure I’m not a woman/all I could wear is a willing smile... It’s true, I identify completely with the feminine, but…
To me, the spirit has no gender. I truly identify with spirit, or consciousness, which is all energies, all knowing, and all not knowing. So to place myself inside of a boxed word(s) or language doesn't really sit well with me.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Interview with Antonette Rea

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Antonette Alexandra Rea, an inspirational transgender poet, and activist from Canada. Hello Antonette!
Antonette: Hi Monika, thank you for your interest.
Monika: We are having this interview at the time when you are recuperating from the car accident. How is your health, Antonette?
Antonette: I am in a far better mental space than I had been due to the pain and limited mobility while I heal. I was hit by a car and dislocated a shoulder and my other hand remains numb though the feeling returned in my shoulder and sciatica has settled down at the moment.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Antonette: I was a street surviving Queen of the night. My street poet handle used to be “Miss Understood.” My poetry was a coping mechanism when working the stroll and then it became a useful healing vehicle for processing so much adversity. The adversity that I didn't think had affected me until I had stopped using drugs and escaped from a life of prostitution. Sex and drugs go hand in hand it seems in some form or another.
My writing has allowed me to process so much negativity, where family and friends were nowhere to be found. Performing these difficult poems in front of an audience is like taking the bandage off a wound because It’s almost healed. There will always be the scars, but I can now let the past go and live more at the moment.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Interview with Rachel Mann

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Rachel Mann, the Church of England priest in charge of St. Nicholas’ Church Burnage in Manchester, and Minor Canon of Manchester Cathedral. She is a broadcaster, published poet, theologian, and music journalist specializing in metal, prog, and folk. Her memoir of being trans, lesbian, and Christian, “Dazzling Darkness” (2012) was a Church Times bestseller. Hello Rachel!
Rachel: Hi there, Monika. Lovely to chat with you.
Monika: I must say you are one of the most charismatic women I have ever interviewed. Heavy metal, priesthood, feminism, lesbianism, and poetry. Quite a mix!
Rachel: You mean not everyone shares my passions? ;-) I guess I’ve always been incurably curious. I suspect this means I can be a bit exhausting to be around – a bit like a two-year-old toddler. I feel sorry for my friends and family sometimes. They’ve really had to put up with my endless interest in knowing and thinking about new stuff. I guess ‘religious people’ often get stereotyped as a bit dumb, but I’ve always been driven on by a desire for knowledge and the creative.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Interview with Lianne Simon

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Lianne Simon, an American Christian writer, social activist, housewife, and the author of “Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite”. Hello Lianne!
Lianne: Wow! Hi. Thank you so much for asking me. I’m amazed at the number of interviews you’ve done. You go, girl!
Monika: It has been two years since the release of your debut novel titled “Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite” about an intersex teen named Jamie who must ultimately choose between male or female. Were you satisfied with the readers’ acceptance of the book?
Lianne: The book was very personal to me since quite a bit of it was drawn from my own childhood. I wanted to show people, especially fellow Christians, what it felt like to grow up between the sexes. I was a bit disappointed that no major Christian publisher would consider a book about intersex.
However, the reception by readers has been encouraging. I’ve had positive feedback from a wide variety of people, including conservative Christians and LGBT book critics.

Monday 16 June 2014

Interview with Michela Ledwidge

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Michela Ledwidge, artist, director, and most recently the co-founder of Mod Productions, a production studio focused on interactive entertainment. Hello Michela!
Michela: Hi Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Michela: I’m a 40something artist and director living in Sydney, working on multi-platform media productions. I transitioned when I was 25. 
Monika: You are said to be a geek since you have been involved in the development of so many inventions…
Michela: That’s fair. I’ve been a technologist since the 80s when I used to sneak into my parent’s bedroom to play with Dad’s Commodore 64 which I wasn’t supposed to touch without supervision. I’m still mucking around with new tech all these years later and enjoy writing words, code, and music. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to the internet early on and networked communication has been the basis of my approach to media making ever since.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Interview with Alison Grillo

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Alison Grillo, a New York City comedian, guest on NBC's Last Comic Standing in 2010, named by The Advocate as one of “Five Hottest Transgender Comics of 2013” and one of "Seven LGBT Comics You Should Not Have Missed in 2011," and a celebrity judge of the 2013 NYC Pride March. Hello Alison! 
Alison: Hi, Monika. I like the way you spell your name with a k.
Monika: This is how my name is written in my mother tongue. Could you say a few words about yourself?
Alison: I do stand-up comedy, sometimes about trans-related issues, sometimes about general issues involving the phenomena of our lives as humans. I like to read literature from 100 or so years ago, go to movies, including those at New York City’s Film Forum, and take long walks in the City.
Sundays will sometimes find me in a pew of a Methodist church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where I’ll be struggling with questions of spirituality, seeking comfort and guidance in the preacher’s sermon, and very often mentally critiquing his/her rhetorical project.

Friday 13 June 2014

Interview with Allyson Hamblett

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Allyson Hamblett, a transgender activist from New Zealand, musician, involved in the work for CCS Disability Action, Agender New Zealand, Outline NZ, GenderBridge, and the Cerebral Palsy Society. Hello Allyson!
Allyson: Hi Monika, thank you for the opportunity to talk with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Allyson: Currently I’m the chair of the Local Advisory Committee of CCS Disability Action Auckland. I work as Media Assistant at Spark Centre of Creative Development, writing articles for their monthly newsletter. I am co-founder of Transadvocates. And have been an activist since my university days, when I discovered sociology and started to understand how society is constructed. I have cerebral palsy.
Monika: You have a passion for art and composing music. In addition, you take part in many live performances.
Allyson: I discovered my creativity about 12 years ago when I started going to Spark Centre of Creative Development. I enjoy painting with acrylic on canvas and love portraiture and figures in space. Making art allows me to focus on what I’m doing and forget about everything else.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Interview with Gerri Cannon

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Gerri Cannon, an American transgender activist, truck driver, carpenter, and computer professional. Hello Gerri! 
Gerri: Hi Monika! It’s a pleasure being able to share some of my stories with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Gerri: Only a few? I’ll try. I am a person with many skills and interests. I worked in the computer field for just over 30 years. After being laid off for a second time I started my carpentry business. When the US economy crashed I found myself with a number of customers that couldn’t pay me for work I had completed. So, I learned how to drive Big Rigs and wet on the road. In addition to having a wide range of jobs, I am also a proud parent and a friend to many.
Monika: Being a truck driver and carpenter, you work in a very macho environment. How can you cope there as a woman?
Gerri: I was really concerned about this when I started. The number of women in the trucking industry is small, but growing. I have found that while there are many old-time drivers that don’t care to have women on the road, there are also many men that appreciate that we are out here doing a job, like everyone else.

Monday 9 June 2014

Interview with Vanessa Sheridan

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Vanessa Sheridan, an American expert consultant, published author, inclusion/awareness trainer, and speaker/presenter on transgender workplace issues; the Executive Director of the Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement; a member of the national Transgender Advisory Committee for Out and Equal Workplace Advocates; a member of the Advisory Board for GLBTQ Online High School; a former (and the first transgender) member of the Board of Directors for the Stonewall National Museum and Archives; a two-time national Lambda Literary Award finalist for her pioneering books on transgender spirituality topics; and the author of the groundbreaking business book, "The Complete Guide to Transgender in the Workplace." Hello Vanessa!
Vanessa: Hello Monika, and thank you for this invitation. I'm delighted to be with you and am very honored to be included with some of the other amazing individuals whom you have previously interviewed. I appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts with you and your readers.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Vanessa: I'm a fairly boring person and don't think I'm all that interesting. I am passionate, however, about doing what I can to help the transgender community achieve equality in society. I've been committed to that goal since 1991 and will continue until we get there or until I die, whichever comes first.
Toward that end, I write, speak, consult, train, and do as much as possible to educate the public about the transgender phenomenon. We transfolk are a legitimate asset to the world, and the rest of the population needs to learn the truth about us.

Sunday 8 June 2014

Interview with Rachel Coy Blunk

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Rachel Coy Blunk, an American transgender activist, the former Sheriff's Deputy in Pasco County. Hello Rachel!
Rachel: Hello Monika!
Monika: Are you a twin sister of Geena Davis?
Rachel: LOL, I wish I was, but I do get a lot of people who ask me that all the time.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Rachel: Well, I graduated from Goshen High School in Goshen, Ohio. I went into the Army after graduation and served for 4 years before I was medically discharged under honorable conditions. I’m a disabled veteran.
I attended PHCC community college and graduated from the Police Academy and now I’m retired from law enforcement. I then went back to school, graduated, and became a certified Microsoft technician.
Monika: Being a police officer, you worked in a very macho environment. How could you cope there as a woman?
Rachel: It was the most terrifying, but most rewarding experience I had in my life. I started out working as a male officer, but I then transitioned on the job. It was very hard to do. I lost everything at first, but in the end, I have gained everything back.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Interview with Melissa Marie Alexander

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Melissa Marie Alexander, an American transgender activist, Vice-Chair of TransOhio, businesswoman, lawyer, and college teacher. Hello Melissa!
Melissa: Greetings Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Melissa: Sure. I have had the pleasure of working three careers in my life following my education. For over twenty years I practiced law in a law firm primarily doing litigation, employment, and labor law and building my client base. I spoke at my conferences and seminars.
Upon leaving the practice of law I began a new career as a business owner in the meeting and event planning industry. I served on the Board of Directors for Ohio MPI and received my CMP designation from the Convention Industry Council. Following the same, I reentered the teaching field which I had also done in the 1990s on a part-time basis, and now have 13 years of teaching experience either at Adjunct or full-time status. I truly adore teaching and love working with students and take great pride in my work and the preparation for my classes.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Interview with Arianna Lint

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Arianna Lint, a native of Peru. Arianna is a transgender activist and advocate from Florida, and is the Director of SunServe's Transgender Services Department, and co-president of Translatin@ Coalition. Hello Arianna!
Arianna: Hello Monika and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be on your blog; I am honored.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Arianna: I am a very happy and blessing person at this time of my life.
Monika: What is the goal of Translatin@ Coalition?
Arianna: Our goal and mission are to advocate for the specific needs of Trans Latin@ immigrants who reside in the US and plan advocacy strategies that would improve our quality of life.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Interview with Renee James

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Renee James, a Chicago-area writer, former magazine editor, and owner, the author of "Coming Out Can Be Murder" (2012), a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, licensed hairdresser, blogger, and wilderness adventurer. Hello Renee!
Renee: Hello Monika, and thank you for your interest!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Renee: I am a grandparent, now in my sixties, married and still devoted to my wife, and trying to be a successful novelist. My understanding of my transgender nature is a still-evolving mystery, but I'm finally at a point where I enjoy the complexities it brings to my life (except when I use the ladies' room in a straight restaurant).
Monika: Is there anything like transgender literature? What does it mean to be a transgender writer?
Renee: It seems to me that there is a very rich body of transgender non-fiction, especially autobiographies. I haven't found much in the way of transgender fiction, and I think this is a terrible shame. Storytelling is the best way to connect the straight world with our world, and it's not happening. That also contributes to the dearth of screenplays and stage plays that feature strong, effective transgender women.

Monday 2 June 2014

Interview with Treva Angelina Askey

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Treva Angelina Askey, a British army veteran who completed tours in Kenya and the Falklands Islands and operational tours of Bosnia; her story was featured in the book titled “Too Deep: My journey as my husband becomes my beautiful wife” (2013), written by her wife Victoria Askey. Hello Treva!
Treva: Hello Monika, a pleasure and a privilege to complete this interview for you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Treva: I am a retired British Army veteran going through the transition. I am very shy and quiet; I also keep myself to myself outside of the family home. I have taken on the role of housewife since marrying my wife Victoria in September 2011 allowing her to achieve her goal of becoming an author.
I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen trying out new foods for the family to enjoy or hate depending on how many chilies I use lol. I am also trying to become a gardener so I can grow my own vegetables but I am failing at that one lol. I have a couple of old Lambretta scooters that I enjoy fixing and riding as my hobby.
Monika: What inspired your wife to write a book about your transition?
Treva: I will let my wife answer this one.
Victoria: After researching about the transition road I found it was all negative, I wanted to show people that it’s not all bad, that love can overcome any obstacle that’s put in your way. I was also amazed at the number of partners that run when they are told that their other half is transgender and it doesn’t have to be like that. I was also inspired by Treva’s courage and how she could have lived her life not telling anyone until she told me.

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