Saturday, 15 November 2014

Interview with Kimberly Luciana Dias

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Kimberly Luciana Dias, a Brazilian transgender activist, artist, beauty pageant queen, blogger, creator of “Mundo T-Girl – Travestis e Transexuais”. Hello Kimberly!
Kimberly: Monika, please bear in mind that I am trying to use the social network of my country to spread the visibility of our trans community, especially Brazilian transvestites and transsexuals. I love doing this, so it is a great pleasure when I'm in front of my computer, building a virtual policy and manifesto, trying to use everything I have learned in my life through activism, stage, model catwalk and my experience as a transgender woman. I am doing this just to show our vision, glamour and beauty because our community deserves it!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kimberly: I am a very accomplished person; I have all my dreams come true, but not all of them. It has taken me a lot of years but although I have a very serious look, I'm a very humorous person. I like my independence and I have a few friends, I love my family and my life story, and I really like my solitude that makes me feel good to be alone!

Monika: You are the champion of a myriad of causes that touch on transgender rights. Could you name some of the initiatives that you took part in?
Kimberly: I am one of the coordinators of the Association of LGBT Pride Parade in Brazil, the largest in the world, linked to Cordenadoria of Transvestites and Transsexuals, where we conducted surveillance at gay clubs, which prohibited us from attending them, only because we are transgender. Some charged absurd prices, while allowing gay people to enter free of charge. This must have called for fight in court and today those places have to respect us.
I participated in many meetings to put into practice Law No. 10,948, fighting against LGBTFOBIA in the state where I was born. In addition, I was involved in the creation of the special booklet for dissemination.
I have a daily work connected with the social network and blog that I have been running since 2005. I promote the visibility of Brazilian transvestites and transsexuals. I have taken part in several demonstrations, fighting for our rights and achievements as a cultural activist. At the moment, we are working with transvestites and transsexuals in the streets, drug-addicts, homeless; we provide them with food, clothes and treatment.

Courtesy of Kimberly Luciana Dias.

Monika: When did you decide that you would like to be a stage artist?
Kimberly: As a child, I was watching TV spectacles with transvestites, and I told myself that one day I would have the same career. And as a transwoman, I accept many invitations to participate in beauty pageants, during which I meet so many people, and I venture into the glamor of the stage as an artist.
Monika: Could you name some of the venues and shows in which you participated?
Kimberly: I participated in several special transgender programs organised in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. For the last two consecutive years I have been preparing a big show to celebrate the Trans Day of Visibility in my country, with transsexual artists, which is very satisfying and rewarding.
Monika: Have you ever thought about acting?
Kimberly: I've done small roles, nothing too big, and ultimately played in the film titled "Chance for Love and Truth", where I was a singer. However, it is my talent behind the camera and producing that makes me feel more comfortable. This market segment is very closed for us in Brazil and there are too few opportunities for us!
Monika: You also take part in transgender beauty pageants. Could you say a few words about your pageants and trophies?
Kimberly: I am vain, and I do not hide the pride of having walked with the most beautiful transgender women in the world.  I assume that I have always had the "Little Miss Sunshine" in me. Thus, I represented the state of São Paulo to participate in the Miss Brazil pageant and also participated in some international events, including the Miss World America Version, 2005 edition, where I became the 1st Runner-Up.
That period was as a school in my life. The good thing was that I met a number of places, people, parties and many doors were opened for me. The bad thing was having to leave Brazil in search of opportunities that were not offered to me in my homeland.

Courtesy of Kimberly Luciana Dias.

Monika: Brazilian transgender women are regarded as the most beautiful transgender women in the world? What is their secret?
Kimberly: In Brazil we are all a mixture of races we have in our bloods, all races of the world. We have the sensuality of the carnival. My grandparents came from Europe to live in Brazil, so I have a mixture of European and Brazilian blood.
I have curves, salient butt  (laughs), and our beauty secret comes from our struggle to conquer femininity and this produces our self-esteem, joy and charisma, in order to be able to captivate people more easily. And our natural sensuality makes all the difference.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in the Brazilian society?
Kimberly: 95% of transvestite and transsexual women engage in prostitution due to the lack of opportunities! The lack of social understanding is because these people cannot find a job on the normal market.
The alarming news indicate the lack of job opportunities, the high rate of illiteracy and family problems leading to abuse and maltreatment. Our community expects the authorities to improve the quality of our life, and take action against bullying and aggression, which continues to be a problem for younger people who remain silent for the fear of reprisals and social misunderstanding.
Monika: At what age did you transition into woman yourself? Was it a difficult process?
Kimberly: Yes, it was difficult at the age of 16. I suffered from prejudice locking me in the closet. When I turned 18, I could not use the girls' bathroom at school and I was discriminated because of my transgender status, which was one reason to stop my studies and become a transvestite.
In Brazil, it is like killing a lion! I suffered various physical and emotional assaults for being who I am. Our average life span in Brazil is 28 years. We often fall prey to murderers, and we often commit suicide too. So I have survived for thirty years, which is a great achievement!

Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Kimberly: I was born in a very small town. I am one of the first to assume the gender identity, and it was very difficult, facing the wrath of the entire town. Therefore I moved to the big city Sao Paulo, full of many generations of Ts, and where people's minds are more open. I have never wanted to follow a model. I have always wanted to be myself with my flaws and qualities.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Kimberly: The bad thing was that I had to leave Brazil in search of opportunities that were not offered to me there because of my sexual orientation.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in Brazilian films, newspapers or books so far?
Kimberly: Today we can boast many achievements and victories, but we should not suffer from the lack of employment in the show business, art, television, film, and theatre. The art industry does not give us too many chances, we are not even offered to play trans characters. Probably this is the reason why we have only very few trans actresses.

Courtesy of Kimberly Luciana Dias.

Monika: Have you recently read or watched any interesting book or event/film about transgenderism?
Kimberly: Recently I have debuted in the film titled "Chance for Love and Truth", which includes transgender stories and characters, including me as a nightclub singer.
I have also received a call about my biography; a writer will be a Miss Brazil, a very famous here in Brazil.
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBT communities. Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group?
Kimberly: In my opinion, every year the Parade helps to combat prejudice and transphobia, because it shows our visibility and diversity to the prejudiced society. It is no coincidence that we occupy the streets, we show our face and with each passing year, we have records of people engaged and willing to participate.
Thanks to such manifestations and visibility, we are being listened to and the society stops ignoring our rights. They see that we exist and that we want the same rights. Each year, our manifesto is announced and the message is passed through the party.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Kimberly: I have no desire nor talent for a political career. In Brazil religion plays a vital role in politics. Such politicians take all seats in the National Congress, and our community cannot be elected to represent us there, which is a great danger for us.
I believe Brazil can turn into another Russia in the coming years. The reason? In the coming elections, evangelicals have doubled their seats in the Congress and the 'Gay Cure' will have 90% chance of being approved if we are not aware of our political rights and elect those who will represent us. We can face a very big setback to everything we have achieved so far.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Kimberly: I love fashion, I have a classic style and I love clothing with all shades of pink (laughter) at the bottom of my heart I have the soul of a Barbie doll.

Courtesy of Kimberly Luciana Dias.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Kimberly: "Love does not choose, it just happens," I love that phrase!
Even so, the prejudice can disrupt the courtship of a man with a transwoman. And the worst is when he is afraid of stereotypes and allows this fear to be greater than the feeling he has for us.
I do not accept a boyfriend that does not respect transwomen. We all face such situations every day, at school, with friends, family and society. They say that they love us but they do not prove it real life. 90% of T-lovers regards us as sex objects, and that is why the society is so prejudiced against us.
I had only two great loves in my life. At the moment, I prefer my work to family and friends. Today, I choose to be alone; I want to love myself because I have so much love to give. In short, I do not want to share my days, achievements and happiness with any man, in any loving relationship. I'm so happy, enjoying myself.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Kimberly: I was approached by one Miss Brazil, a very important woman here in Brazil; she presented to me a project that would cover my career and biography. It would be a great honor to have my life story written by her. She is an icon in my country, and a person who I greatly admire.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Kimberly: I am very dedicated to helping transvestites and transsexuals on Brazilian streets. In addition, I am working on the next show to celebrate the week of Trans Visibility in Brazil.

Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Kimberly: I am in favor of quotas for transvestites and transsexuals in the labor market, creation of projects that will provide employment. We need opportunities today! I was often raped and exposed to many atrocities. For me having a job is a right to dignity for us, though it is possible to have the right to view prostitution as an option, not as a single choice.
We want respect at work, even though normal jobs are not as profitable as prostitution. We are human beings and we need opportunities. Hopefully this new generation - and anyone else who wants to - learn everything at school, so they will never face the ugly side of the world!
Monika: Kimberly, thank you for the interview!
Kimberly: I thank you for this opportunity to present the Brazilian transgender community. It was a great pleasure to share with you some details and thoughts of my life, thank you very much and greetings to all of you!

All the photos: courtesy of Kimberly Luciana Dias.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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