Friday 17 April 2015

Interview with Bright Daffodil

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Bright Daffodil, a British woman born intersex, a participant in many documentaries and interviews. Hello Bright Daffodil!
Bright Daffodil: NAMASTE Monika an absolute pleasure to meet you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Bright Daffodil: I believe myself to be a Pleiadian, a star seed here in London, in human terms I’m an intersex person, a transgendered woman, but I’m at a stage in my life where gender to me is nothing more than the others' perception. I don’t see myself as any gender anymore, just as a soul having a human experience.
I think I have transcended gender to be really honest. For my soul, it’s easier to live a female experience however I don’t think I’m female or male in knowing my true self I am merely an organic being.

Monika: We both like the same quote “Better to be hated for who you are... than loved for who you are not.”
Bright Daffodil: Well, this quote really sums up who I am, I guess because my early life was a struggle when I was young growing up in the male gender and feeling so at odds with it. I spent many years living as a gay man to hide the fact I was trans, as I had not a clear understanding of my intersexuality.
I was prescribed the belief that a hormone problem, was just something to take medication for but not to address on a psycho-social level.
It was a painful process living as a male and going through a transition, but one I’m grateful for. Like all painful processes, it led me to a greater understanding of myself, because losing gender identity, by changing and transcending gender lead me to a greater place of understanding of what it means to be human, a truly beautiful gift. Seeing the world from the experience of both genders is not something most humans have an experience of.
Monika: You have been always very open about your being intersex. You gave many press interviews and took part in many documentaries, including “I’m 80% Girl, 20% Boy”‬...
Bright Daffodil: I believe the way forward for all gender variant people is to own and embrace their identities, personally, I’m not stealth even though I could be, I feel being stealth instills a concept of taboo and shame onto our identity and once again I would like to repeat, after spending so many years being miserable, by living as a male to please the expectations of family lovers friends, I feel living stealth is just as bad as not transitioning. 
Only because it’s ironic, we change to be who we are, then deny it again, humanity loves denial in every sense, it isn’t until we understand we are all human and lose the labels that humanity will progress into a time of more honesty with itself.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of intersex women in British society?
Bright Daffodil: British society has changed invariably since my first attempt at transition in the 90s. At that time Gerry Springer was very famous and often had trans guests on his show, meaning most of the transphobia was a reflection of that kind of human zoo media. 
Presently I think we’re living in a time of ever-increasing trans visibility, younger people are not living lives as gay /lesbian before transitioning but are transitioning right away, I hear gender identity services have never been so busy. There is still a lot of stigma and shame attached to the whole gender issue but I feel it’s up to us as a community to change that by respecting and supporting ourselves as a family.
Unfortunately in the UK, there is a very different perception of the trans community than what I experienced living in the USA and Spain. Here people are more isolated and often there is a hierarchy. One other issue, which seems to be very consistent here in the UK, is a culture of victimhood around being trans/intersex, for me, they are the same experience. I lived as a male and took it for many years and transitioned. I don’t think this is a separate experience from an MtF trans person. So I identify as intersex and transgender.
Although again I have been slated for calling myself trans by people from the intersex community and vice versa. As a community, I feel unity is the way forward to changing perceptions. Until we lose the victim mentality and own our cultural and psycho-social identities it’s hard to move into a place of empowerment.
I would like to see more trans people empowering themselves by educating those who may abuse them than allowing themselves to become victims. I have been the victim of hate crime and also experienced domestic violence as a woman. I reported these to the police and pressed charges because it’s the most loving thing to do both for self but also for the person doing the abuse.
In neither experience did I see myself as a victim, because the experience enabled me to awaken another up to the fact their behavior was not serving them or others. I always try to act in love. It’s not always easy.
Monika: At what age did you re-transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process?
Bright Daffodil: I didn’t have male puberty. I was going to see a child intersex specialist, Dr de Ceglie at St. George’s hospital from the age of 12, but no one really explained that condition to me. I also had various surgeries, which have left me disabled now and suffering from chronic pain. I manage these by engaging in deep spiritual practice and acknowledging my body is nothing more than a vessel.
I tried to transition at 16 but I was homeless and very vulnerable, as I grew up in care, and lost touch with support services at that time. It was a pre-mobile phone and Internet, and I’m from a very deprived area of the UK called Dudley. It was easier, safer, and more loving for me to live as a gay man.
My second attempt to transition was in New York City at age 19 and I lived as a girl called Hope till I was 21…This felt very much like the dark ages as trans visibility was unheard of. All the trans women I knew sold sex and did a lot of drugs. I had a nervous breakdown and tried to commit suicide in 2000, as I lost my foster parents and friend network and became homeless again. I also lost my job. All devastating results of presenting as a gender variant androgynous person. It was a very difficult time once again I resigned myself to the fact it was easier to live as a man and started taking testosterone. My goal in life was to find love and I felt it was easier to do that as a gay man than as an androgynous-looking trans woman.
I had puberty around 22 years old, and got many tattoos, and did weight training, and it was my form of masculine protest. I contrived a very punk rock male look that I felt I could live with and spent many years doing drag, drugs, and living a fashionable London club kid lifestyle. It was like a drag queen version of absolutely fabulous with lots of sex.

Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any intersex role models that you followed?
Bright Daffodil: When I came to a place of acceptance and personal inquiry, after spending some time in Sydney and feeling disillusioned with my fruitless lifestyle at the tender age of 28. I believe this was my Saturn’s return.
I then stopped taking it, ditched the macho fa├žade and took estrogen, and got hair extensions to my waist, my body and face luckily changed rapidly and I found a new lease in life living as Adele. I quit doing drugs and trained as a support worker, and set up my charity project silverfish to help marginalized and homeless trans people in the London area.
I called the project after ALEX SILVERFISH, a techno DJ who killed herself during the transition in 2008 due to hate crime and ongoing harassment. She was a role model to me because she would often call me out when I presented as a muscle man on the gay scene and sit on my lap and whisper in my ear, you might be fooling them but you’re not fooling me… she saw me for who I was…. She was an angel and I miss her.
Monika: Are there are any transgender or intersex ladies that you admire and respect now?
Bright Daffodil: Monika, I respect and admire all people, even those who hate me. I don’t see any spiritual difference apart from the fact we all are using different vehicles (our physical bodies) to have experiences (life).
I have done a lot of reading in my time and find there are many spiritual messengers of peace and love in the Trans community; KATE BORNSTEIN was a great inspiration to me at the age of 22 when I made a decision to live as a guy.
I have to say one of the most inspirational Trans women in my life to this day remains to be BRANDY ALEXANDER... the leading lady in Chuck Palahniuk’s book Invisible Monsters. I agree with everything she stands for, we create our own reality by our own perceptions, Don’t you like the reality? Change your perception of it. Byron Katie, though she is not trans, is a very definite inspiration too.


Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Bright Daffodil: The hardest thing for me in coming out as trans was the fact I believed no one would ever love me for who I was, and I was looking very butch with shaved head and tattoos and big manly muscles. I felt like I would be treated like a freak.
I also felt very comfortable having sex and relationships in a homosexual context and was not sure I would feel as comfortable with guys who are into women. That’s still a big issue for me.
I am currently in a partnership with a man who has autism. We don’t have sex, and he sees me as a soul rather than a body as I do him. It’s a refreshing change from the drama-inspired sexually charged relationships of the past.
Monika: What do you think about intersex stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Bright Daffodil: I still get very upset when trans characters are played by non-trans actresses and actors; it's annoying. I think we’re currently a hot topic in the media and in many ways if done respectfully this is good.
People do seem more and more open towards the fact we're part of life even if they don’t understand. I see more and more trans characters in everyday TV, which is a positive step to normalizing a once sexually objectified identity.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think intersex women can make a difference in politics?
Bright Daffodil: I am very active in politics in so much as I believe that capitalism is failing the world and we need to revise a system, which is not working for us as human consciousness.
I am currently writing a book about my beliefs, which some might find rather alarming others might already know. I have been researching the hidden history of humankind from ancient times to the modern day, to uncover inconvenient truths and challenge them. I believe that there is no longer any form of democracy on this planet because all political parties are funded by corporations to pursue corporate agendas.
In the UK under the Tories, we have seen a huge decline in common social welfare concerns. We now have more elderly people living in poverty, people using food banks, and a plethora of homeless people who are vulnerable, as the Tories cut public services to fund wars in Iraq, which none of the public wants or agrees to.
I think any person forms a minority who has experienced living in a minority, including those who are trans, should really start to speak up now and unite against the totalitarian tie toe towards fascism we are undertaking.


Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Bright Daffodil: I spent many years as a nightclub high fashion drag queen. However, I never went for the femme realness look. I have always, since the age of six, been very inspired by alternative and extreme fashion.
My idols in the fashion world have to be Alexander McQueen (I worked for him in 1999), Thierry Mugler, and London’s own Pam Hogg.
My dress sense was cultivated as one known to be sinister, cutting edge, and avant-garde. I still love dressing up but take it a lot less seriously now. It’s interesting because the decline of nightlife has also seen a decline in new fashion movements and underground music scenes.
The gentrification of London, however, seems to be inspiring a lot of new creativity, with nightclubs such as my own local community, Kaos, shoes, and legion, bringing forth a new wave of nu-goth looks and intelligent music. Of course, the trans and queer scenes are leading the way in this as they did in the 80s and 90s respectfully. Genderqueer Djs such as Bamboo Herman, Chicken, Halo-is, and promoters such as Lee Adams are real scene innovators and imbue the underground with a sense of solidarity. Genderqueer and androgynous performers such as Andro Andrex, and Synth, make me proud to be part of such a creatively fluid community.


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

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