Friday, 29 January 2016

Interview with Christie De Vries

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Christie De Vries, an Australian writer, former nurse, showgirl, the author of the biographical book titled “Down the Rabbit Hole...: An Autobiography by Christie De Vries” (2015). Hello Christie!
Christie: Hi Monika! So lovely to meet you. Must say I'm chuffed that you contacted me from Poland!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Christie: Hmmm, I guess I'm just like everyone, trying to find sense in a very crazy world. I try not to watch too much news, the events in the world are just overwhelming. Being Transgender certainly isn't an easy life path to choose. There seems to be more tolerance to transgender children these days and that's wonderful.
It was a difficult journey and I wouldn't want to ever have to go through all that again! These days, I enjoy writing, spending time with my dog Jess and see a few select friends. I love the beauty of nature and flowers.
Monika: You have several novels planned, the first of which is a mystery romance novel, called A Dangerous Love with an expected release date of early 2016…
Christie: Yes Monika, I've written sixteen chapters, but real life is demanding my attention, so I'm trying to write in snippets when I can at the moment. I'm still hoping for a release of the first part of 2016 if possible and I am changing the title to "Devious Hearts", you're the first to know!
Monika: Your life could be a perfect movie scenario. You started your professional career as a showgirl …
Christie: I did. In my late teens, that was really the only avenue for transgender girls to make a living, and not a very good one at that! Many people have made a lot of money on the backs of transgender showgirls, we were just paid a pittance usually, but it was a fun lifestyle in many ways. As soon as I felt confident enough after my reassignment surgery, I quit shows for a while to work out in the real world.

The autobiography via

Monika: Then you gave up the stage and decided to be a nurse …
Christie: My mother was a nurse and the medical field always intrigued me. I'd worked at several large public hospitals in various roles, clerical mainly, and decided to go do nursing. I had to go back to night school while working a full-time job.
Then I got into nursing school and passed the training. I worked in Ophthalmology/Ear Nose And Throat, and later in Theatre as a scrub nurse for a cosmetic surgeon.
Monika: … and finally you started writing books …
Christie: I have! I finished the autobiography in a bit of a rush. Digging up all those old memories was difficult, but it was cathartic and that's why I wrote it. I needed to get all that baggage out of my head and let it all go. It took me nine years and I wasn't sure I could do it, putting your very private life out there for the world to see was hard and I almost withdrew the book.
Then I thought, blow it! People need to understand how difficult it is. In 1977, society wasn't as tolerant and there was a lot of discrimination, even within the transgender/gay scene. Despite my earlier doubts, I'm very glad I did write it.
Monika: Why did you decide to write your autobiography?
Christie: Mainly, as a catharsis. I had a very difficult childhood and a very difficult relationship with my adoptive mother. I carried a lot of baggage around for years. I knew if I was ever to get any peace of mind, I had to let it all go. I also wanted it to be a guidepost for young people with gender issues. Hopefully, it will help those who read it to understand things a little more.
Monika: Which aspects of your experience can be useful for other transwomen?
Christie: I would hope that other transwomen could identify with some or all of my experiences. Most of us travel a similar path in life, I think.
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? 
Christie: I began hormone treatment at seventeen and yes, it was a very difficult process. It all took time. I was young and impatient. At age twenty, I saw a Professor of Gynecology, who told me I'd have to wait ten years! I was horrified, but got through the assessments in eighteen months and had the surgery at age twenty-one.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Christie: April Ashley and Christine Jorgensen.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Christie: Model Carmen Carrera and a few personal friends. 
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Christie: I think the discrimination.
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?
Christie: Honestly, I'm not involved in the LBGT scene and don't really have an opinion.
Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Christie: I think generally, transgender characters are usually shown as obviously mannish and I hate that. I don't think Caitlyn Jenner is helping the transgender cause at all!

In her writing mood.

Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Christie: I only lobby against cruelty to animals and support the orangutans in Borneo. The rest can take care of themselves. I think transgender women could contribute a lot to politics.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Christie: No, I'm not a fashionista! These days I go for comfort... No more six-inch heels, my back won't take it! In the 1980's I was fond of Cherry Lane.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants? Some activists criticize their values, pointing out that they lead to the obsession with youth and beauty.
Christie: I really don't agree with them!
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Christie: It was very important for many years... now that I'm almost sixty, I don't think love will find me again and that does make me sad.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Christie: Only the new book, Devious Hearts. I have a friend who is having chemotherapy and that is demanding a lot of my attention at the moment.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Christie: Strive to be your genuine self. There is lots of help available out there, you don't need to do this alone!
Thanks, Monika, hope this is what you wanted. Thank you for the opportunity!!
Monika: Christie, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Christie De Vries.
© 2016 - Monika Kowalska

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