Sunday, 13 March 2016

Interview with Nikola Piława

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Nikola Piława, a young Australian video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Nikki!
Nikki: Hello Monika! Thank you for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Nikki: My full name is Nikola. I’m 20 years old and I reside in Australia. I grew up in New Zealand, only recently moving here to start my career as a makeup artist. Creating YouTube videos documenting my transition from male to female is something I do to help educate and help other people. I also have an unhealthy obsession with makeup and dogs.
Monika: Your vlog is very popular. You answer many questions about your transition. What has been the strangest question that you have ever answered?
Nikki: I don’t think any of the questions I’ve been asked have been strange per se. Every question in relation to transitioning I take seriously. There are no stupid questions. :)

Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Nikki: I made my channel in hopes to help educate other people on transitioning and trans issues. I also thought it was a good way for me to document my transition as I’m a very visual person.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Nikki: I started getting rid of my boy clothes, wearing makeup, growing out my hair, etc. when I left high school in 2013. I began hormone therapy in mid-2014. My breast augmentation was only in January this year.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Nikki: Not completely. For me personally, the results I received included clear, smooth skin, reduced body hair on my tummy and armpits, slightly softer features, and loss of muscle. I was really hoping for a curvier figure but my hips and breasts barely grew.
I have a hard time gaining weight so it’s just my genetic predisposition that prevents me from getting a curvier figure. I am very satisfied with how HRT has affected me mentally though. I am so much more content with my appearance. I don’t suffer as much gender dysphoria.

Nikola applying makeup to a client
at her work.

Monika: Which aspects of your experience could be used by other transgender women planning their transitions?
Nikki: Something that set my YouTube channel apart from others at the time I made my first video was; No other New Zealand girls were making videos about transitioning. I made a video dedicated to explaining the process I went through in New Zealand to transition medically.
Obviously, the process of transitioning differs in every country. I feel like I can share an experience that hadn’t been fully shared at the time thus helping other girls in a similar situation.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Nikki: Because I’ve only lived in Australia for 8 months I can’t really say. New Zealand on the other hand accommodates trans women quite well. We receive hormone therapy that is covered by the government. It’s definitely something that is improving the more people becoming educated.
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? 
Nikki: I started transitioning in 2013 when I was 17. It was the first semester of my last year of high school. I had known for about a year prior that transitioning would make me happy. It’s all I could think about every day. I couldn’t even focus on school anymore and my only motivation was to transition. I knew I couldn’t start my transition in high school due to bullying so I dropped out of school and took up my job at Wendy’s full time. I was finally free to express myself how I had always wanted. My family and friends had known me for a year but I felt like I had been released from prison.
At the end of 2013, I had seen an endocrinologist about beginning HRT. Transitioning in New Zealand is a fully-funded process and I think we have it really good over here. It took about 6 months from my first appointment to getting the hormones. I was moving at the time which slowed everything down.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Nikki: Gigi Gorgeous on YouTube. I religiously watched all of Gigi’s makeup tutorials and vlogs. At the time she hadn’t come out as transgender but I admired how she was always so confident wearing a full face of makeup and 6-inch heels! She is so fabulous and I wanted to follow in her footsteps, but taking it a step further with HRT…
Only a couple of months after I saw my endocrinologist Gigi made the video ‘I Am Transgender’. I was so happy that my idol was going through the exact same thing as me! The woman who inspired me to transition was transitioning herself. Thank you, Gigi.

Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Nikki: Of course, I still love Gigi. Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Stef Sanjati, my best friend Kyla and Julie Vu (AKA PrincessJoules)
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Nikki: Becoming comfortable around my family and going out in public. My family has always been super supportive and accepting. I always cared so much about what they’d think that I was so scared to tell them.
Once I told them though, it was a matter of easing into being myself around them. It was a bit hard on everyone I think. Also finding the courage to go shopping for female clothes when you look like a teenage boy is nerve-racking!
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Nikki: I tend to stick to YouTube and Internet articles so I haven’t seen or read many. I have seen the movie ‘Boy Meets Girl’ though. I absolutely love this movie and it does a great job at representing a realistic transsexual girl.
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?
Nikki: Of course. We have been for a long time. Although trans issues becoming more prevalent in mainstream culture, I think it’s good to promote our community separately too. Therefore each community’s needs and injustices don’t get merged together and overlooked.

Nikki pre-hormone therapy (left). Nikki early 2016 (right).

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Nikki: I love fashion. Not as much as makeup though! I love clothing from or inspired by the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. I feel like these eras had the most feminine and elegant styles. Due to my job, my wardrobe consists mainly of black tops, skirts, and pants.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Nikki: I think they’re wonderful. I would love to enter a pageant one day. Trans women should be able to enter non-trans-specific pageants too. It’s great that they exist though.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Nikki: I’m an extremely affectionate person. I think I have a lot to give. Now that I’m happy and content in my life, I’d love to find someone special to give that to.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Nikki: Perhaps when I’m a bit older. Right now I don’t feel like I’ve experienced enough to start writing.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Nikki: The Company I work for is creating a YouTube channel. I will occasionally be making makeup demos on there and help run the channel.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Nikki: I know this cheesy line gets said a lot but it gets better!! Know that you’re not alone. Every trans person experiences gender dysphoria no matter what their situation is. Hormones will help ease dysphoria if you’re not on them. Utilize make-up! If you like make-up then practice in your spare time. It can really make you feel a million bucks when applied nicely. Most importantly surround yourself with people who love and respect you as a female.
Monika: Nikki, thank you for the interview!
Nikki: It was my pleasure, Monika. Thank you!

For more information about Nikki, check her Instagram.
All the photos: courtesy of Nikola Piława.
© 2016 - Monika Kowalska

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