Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Interview with Giselle

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Giselle, a young video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Giselle!
Giselle: Hi Monika, thanks for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Giselle: Sure. I’m a trans woman from Minnesota. I live with two roommates in Minneapolis and work full time as a Web Business Specialist for a healthcare organization. I like to occupy my time with friends and families, shopping, reading, and sometimes, just relaxing with a glass of wine.
I am a pretty open-minded and easy-going person. I have many interests such as traveling, fashion, make-up, and photography. I try to live my life to the fullest and be open about learning new things.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Giselle: I decided to share my transition details on YouTube because I wanted to help other girls who are thinking about transitioning or in the process of transitioning. There was a moment in my life when I was so confused and I didn’t even know what to do or where to start.
Transitioning is a very complex process physically, mentally, socially, and even legally. Watching other girls who shared their experiences helped me tremendously. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone. I was inspired by these women who have such courage to share their stories with the public despite the hardship of transition. I just wanted to do the same and help others.

Courtesy of Giselle.

Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Giselle: I have been on hormone replacement therapy for about a year and five months now. I have my gender reassignment surgery with Dr. Bowers in California actually next week! Yikes!
Monika: Fingers crossed! Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Giselle: Absolutely, I have been very pleased with the results so far.
Monika: Which aspects of your experience could be used by other transgender women planning their transitions?
Giselle: I think the answer will vary depending on the person. Every individual will experience their transition a little differently and what’s important to me might not be so important to another. I tried to share all aspects of my experience so it is out there if someone finds it helpful.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Giselle: There certainly has been a lot more media coverage on transgendered women. I think people like Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Isis King, Janet Mock, and others are definitely giving the trans community some visibility, which is a great thing.
I once heard someone say that it is natural for human beings to fear or dislike something that they do not understand. I am hoping that with more visibility, it will provide some education for people so they understand what transgender is and is not. However, that being said, I do want to stress that we still have a lot of work ahead and a long way to go.
Just the other week, I saw an article about a transgender teen who committed suicide because of rejection. Not too long ago, I saw another article about a transgender woman being murdered for simply being herself. This goes to show that yes, we came a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? 
Giselle: I was 24 when I began researching about transition and 25 when I actually began to transition. It was a very difficult process for me in the beginning because my parents did not like it. My parents are very conservative and traditional. They didn’t even want me around with them in public because they were embarrassed that their oldest son was becoming a woman. However, after several months, my transition was very smooth. I have a great group of supportive friends and enjoy a friendly relationship with both my parents now.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Giselle: Aside from a few YouTubers who blogged their transition, I didn’t have any role models at the time.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Giselle: I admire trans women like Carmen Carrera, Laverne Cox, and anyone who found a way to live authentically, be themselves, and do what they love to do. I admire them for coming out as trans and giving hope to the trans community some visibility we deserve.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Giselle: The hardest part about coming out was coming out to my parents. I was afraid of being rejected, abandoned, and being disowned by my parents. They were the last ones I came out to and for good reason…when I came out, they didn’t take it very well and it was a very dark time for me. However, that is the past and I have a great relationship with my folks now.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Giselle: Until very recently, the most common type of characters the media portray transwoman has been pretty negative. We are always portrayed as the crazy sex addicts that trick men into having sex or a relationship with us, or some kind of freak that is very manipulative and dangerous, or a complete joke that people make fun of. It makes me upset every time I see a character like that because that is far from the truth of what most transwomen are and I feel like it gives us a false representation. However, things are changing and I hope the media will represent us better.
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?
Giselle: Of course. I think the transgender community is able to promote its own cause within the LGBT group. The “T” is very different from the “LGB” in the sense that “T” isn’t a sexual orientation but they are our biggest allies. I have to say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. I support the LGB community 100% in their effort to win marriage equality across the nation and hopefully, they will be there for us.

Courtesy of Giselle.

Monika: Do you follow politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Giselle: I pay very close attention to politics and keep myself updated with the news but I don’t do any type of lobbying or actively involved. It’s not something I am ready for at the moment, haha.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Giselle: Oh my god, I love fashion! I love shopping for clothes. I can and have spent hours and hours at the mall just browsing through stuff! What I wear will depend on the occasion and my mood.
If you ask my friends, they will tell you that I am very girly and can’t keep my hands off dresses and skirts which are true to an extent haha! But for everyday wear, I do like to keep it simple with just a simple dress or a t-shirt with jeans. Black and red have been my favorite colors so far.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Giselle: I think they are great! I wish I could participate in one!
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Giselle: I think most transwoman would agree that this is the department that is a bit tricky and frustrating at times. Personally, it is hard for me to find a serious relationship. I think love is great and I admit I yearn for it but I came to realize that my life isn’t a Disney Princess fairytale. Love is important but and I will keep an open mind about it but I am not going to let it control my life. There is much I want to accomplish and do in my lifetime and I am not going to let it stops me from living.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Giselle: I do keep a personal diary but that’s about it. I haven’t thought about writing a memoir but who knows, maybe I might in the future but it isn’t on my to-do list right now.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Giselle: I am learning how to sew and will be taking photography classes in the future. Does that count? Haha.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Giselle: Be yourself and embrace it. I know this is easier said than done, trust me, I’ve been through it. But, once you love yourself and just be true to yourself, you will find that happiness will come to you. Just know that there will always be people out there who will try to put you down and invalidate you but this is your life, not theirs. Stay true to yourself, keep a kind heart, keep moving forward and live your life to the fullest. 
Monika: Giselle, thank you for the interview!
Giselle: Thanks Monika for having me!

All the photos: courtesy of Giselle.
© 2015 - Monika Kowalska

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