Saturday, 28 March 2015

Interview with Brae Carnes

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Brae Carnes, a young transgender activist, and vlogger from Canada. Hello Brae!
Brae: Hello :)
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Brae: I am 23, and currently a trans rights activist. Specifically opposing the amendments made to bill c279 by Canadian senator Donald Plett.
Monika: You hit the headlines in February 2015 when the Canadian media covered your social media campaign against bathroom bans for transgender women. Were you satisfied with the way the media covered your campaign?
Brae: I was satisfied because it was coverage, which I was very grateful for. They somewhat simplified my campaign, which is understandable as anything trans* is hard for the public to understand.
Monika: How serious is the bathroom problem for the Canadian transgender community? 
Brae: The problem is not necessarily with the bathroom bans themselves. If the amendments were to become law I doubt anyone would abide by them or enforce them. I believe this is such a strong issue because the amendments acted as a deflection to the original bill c279, which was intended to make "gender identity" protected under the law. Along with this, the real-life aspects of this law (if it truly became law) would potentially place transgendered people in emotional, and physical harm.

The bathroom campaign.

Monika: What is the present situation of transgender women in Canadian society? 
Brae: Until these amendments were made Trans women were generally fairly safe. We are at higher risks of physical, emotional, and sexual assault than the average woman.
We are also at a much higher risk for suicide and murder. These tend to take place in every country. From a medical standpoint, our healthcare is good, and SRS is covered by the government.
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process?
Brae: I began my transition at 21. It was very difficult in the beginning, but I have a very accepting and supportive family that made it much better.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Brae: I was a fan of Jenna Talackova, the Canadian Miss. Universe contender. However, she was disqualified when they discovered she was trans. This received media attention everywhere. She showed me that trans women can accomplish great things and stand up for themselves.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Brae: Presently I have respect for each and every trans woman for having the bravery to be themselves.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Brae: The hardest part for me was guilt. I felt as though I was robbing my loved ones of someone they cherished. It turns out that person never left and simply became happier.
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?
Brae: I think that we are at a point where the letters before us have attained their rights but we have not. I think we need to branch away from that acronym and show that there is a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bathroom campaign.

Monika: What do you think in general about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in Canadian films, newspapers, or books so far?
Brae: I think that there has yet to be a publication where the fact that a person was trans* did not take up the entire premise. I would like to see transgender people as characters in film and the media without the fact that they are trans mentioned.
Monika: Is there anyone in the Canadian transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the USA in the 60s and 70s for gay activism?
Brae: I think that because many trans people do not want to "out" themselves and live "stealth" that such an organization would not be possible. This along with the fact that there are far fewer trans people than homosexual people.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Brae: I have never been active in politics before this, however, I am meeting with Randall Garrison (creator of bill c279) soon. I think having a trans woman in politics would both be a powerful and inspirational movement in the right direction.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Brae: I love fashion, I model recreationally, and wish I could do it professionally. I am a fan of high-end fashion, and I really like Alexander Mcqueen. I do not buy expensive clothes though, I wear the cheapest stuff I can find but still stay on top of trends and put my own style into everything I wear.

The bathroom campaign.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Brae: I find that I am at my best when I am in a committed relationship. I currently have a very supportive boyfriend.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Brae: I used to write a lot of poetry back when times were harder. I often think about publishing these or a memoir of some sort, though wonder when I will ever have the time or discipline. 
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Brae: Currently I am just making videos for my transition documentation video blog on YouTube. It is called "Brae C". I am mostly focused on raising trans rights awareness and fighting the amendments to bill c279. 
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Brae: When I experience dysphoria I try not to look in any mirrors. Do something to distract yourself, and remind yourself that "this day too shall pass".
Monika: Brae, thank you for the interview!
Brae: Thanks for having me.

All the photos: Courtesy of Brae Carnes.
© 2015 - Monika Kowalska

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