Monday 30 March 2015

Interview with Michelle Diamond

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Michelle Diamond, an Australian transgender activist, and the first-ever Transgender Goal umpire for Australian Rules Football, making history for the trans community in Australia. Hello Michelle!
Michelle: Hello Monika, thank you for this opportunity.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Michelle: Well for starters I am a pre-op transsexual who has been transitioning for about 4 years now, been an activist for most of those years until I retired at the end of 2012 to follow my dreams. I ended up following my dreams and wanted to get involved in Australian Rules Football as a goal umpire and so I trained hard and worked on it to make sure I achieved my goals and make my dreams a reality, on the 26th of April 2014 I made history by becoming the first-ever transwoman to become a goal umpire here in Australia.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Michelle: I wanted to help others who were starting out like me and also connect with others so I could consult with them and get a better understanding of the difficulties of transitioning.
Monika: Which aspects of your experience could be used by other transgender women planning their transitions?
Michelle: Make sure you go through the whole process and get thoroughly checked out and make sure the decision you are making is the right one as it not only affects you but those close to you.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in Australian society?
Michelle: We have come a long way here in Australia but so much more needs to be done.
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process?
Michelle: It was around the age of 30 and I wish I was able to do it earlier, it started off as a hard process for me but got easier as I went along, getting diagnosed with depression and anxiety didn’t help which added to my list of things to overcome and endure.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Michelle: Nong Thoom, a famous kathoey (trans woman), Muay Thai fighter, actress, and model.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Michelle: For me now there are a couple and not just trans women also transmen who I admire, Transwomen (Laverne Cox and Nong Thoom), Transmen (Paige Phoenix and Buck Angel).

Courtesy of Michelle Diamond.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Michelle: Coming out to my family and friends was by far the hardest, lost a couple of people but most of them understood and are still there by my side to this day.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Michelle: Some I have seen in movies are represented well, should check out a Thai movie called Thai Fighter which really shows transwomen as a strong force but loving people at the same time, some newspapers still have a lot to learn in regards to misgendering and treating us like humans.
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?
Michelle: The trans community is more visible than ever and we have a voice and is finally getting heard, slowly we are making our mark but more needs to be done and change, no longer will we be the silent T in LGBTIQ and also have to make mention it is LGBTIQ as intersex and genderqueer people often get forgotten about to but also have a voice.
Monika: Is there anyone in the Australian transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the USA in the 60s and 70s for gay activism?
Michelle: Estelle Asmodelle is an Australian model, belly dancer, musician, activist, inventor, abstract artist, and academic. She is known as Australia's first legal transsexual with the Births, Deaths and Marriages Department of New South Wales, and her transition helped gain recognition for transgender people in Australia, she is definitely one person I recognize as making big changes for us in Oz.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Michelle: I am no longer active in any active campaigns, I was asked to enter into politics years ago but never did, but in saying that I do think that trans people as a whole can play a big part in politics.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Michelle: I don’t give in to the stereotypes of fashion, I wear what I want, and depends on how I feel as to what I wear, I am a bit of a butch geek wearing either geek clothes or sportswear, if I have a special function I will dress up nice and doll myself up but that’s on a rare occasion.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Michelle: Don’t like them at all, I feel they are very demeaning.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Michelle: I do love my friends and non-biological family, also entering into a relationship now I have felt love again on a different scale which makes me happy.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Michelle: Yes I have as I have been asked to write a book, maybe when I have accomplished everything I have wanted to do I will.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Michelle: At the moment I am trying to get trans people as a whole respected in sport and pave the way for others to be able to play or take part in their sport of choice without being discriminated against and treated like an equal.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Michelle: From someone who has struggled herself I always find that staying strong and staying true to yourself and have the mindset that everything will work out in the end, things don’t happen overnight but they will happen, just be patient and if you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Monika: Michelle, thank you for the interview!

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

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