Thursday, 9 February 2017

Interview with Emily

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Emily, an American video blogger that documents her transgender transition on her YouTube vlog called It's Emily!. Hello Emily!
Emily: Hi Monika! It's a pleasure!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Emily: Certainly! I started transitioning about a year ago. I'm 31 years old and from Boston. I'm a very outgoing and confident person, which was not always the case! I'm just living and loving life!
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Emily: To be perfectly honest, it was something I did randomly for myself. I felt like I wanted to document my transition so I could see how far I've come and so I would not forget just how much has changed and to have something to look back at during the challenging times of my transition. It wasn't till after a few weeks in I started seeing others enjoying them and subscribing, which makes me love doing them even more now.

Monika: I am sure you get many questions from your YouTube fans. What do they ask for?
Emily: I do! They have ranged from asking me to do certain topics in my videos, to questions about if I’ve yet to do "this or that" in my transition and how it worked out for me. Mostly however I get a lot of people wanting to tell me their story. Those are the ones I love the most, when I get to hear other people opening up to me and I get to listen to their stories about who they are and where they are coming from, those always make me feel special.
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered?
Emily: I'd have to say I was asked once to do a video on "doing my hair" when my hair was much shorter and was asked to do it with someone else because they wanted it to be long hair. That felt odd as in I didn't and don't have long hair yet, so I really don't know how to style it. So unfortunately I couldn't help with that one.

New Year's toast with roommate.

Monika: Do you write scenarios for your videos or do you just improvise?
Emily: I just improvise! I wrote one once when I did a Q&A with my best friend but that was just so I knew what to ask. I feel like improvising makes it more honest. When I do a video I want to speak about how I'm really feeling and if it were written down I’d just be reading it like a script. I'd rather it come from the heart and let it express how I'm really feeling in that moment when I’m thinking about what I’m discussing.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Emily: I just went full-time a month ago and have been on HRT for 11 months. Right now in my transition I’m still working on electrolysis and thinking about the next steps in the coming years of my transition.
Mostly I’m just trying to get used to being full-time, it's a very drastic change when it first happens and it's something I’m trying to adjust to but with that I’ve never been happier!
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Emily: Yes! I honestly wasn't expecting a lot when I first started hormones. However, my results showed right away! My roommate likes to say I woke up with a chest, which isn't too far from the truth. I feel very lucky with the results I've had so far on HRT and can't wait to see what comes next! 
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Emily: I remember watching a very young Jazz Jennings when I was a teenager and thinking how awesome it was that she was doing this and being herself and at such a young age! So I've always followed her story as I continued to try to accept myself.
Also, my Aunt came out as transgender when I was young. I always envied her courage and strength of what it took to come out at a much harder time than the present. Her coming out also helped later a great deal when my time came, as this was something one side of my family had already gone through.

Her first Christmas as Emily.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Emily: The hardest thing was coming out to my family, I wasn't sure how it would be received and it took a lot of build-ups to finally tell them. In the end, I was accepted with open arms and they can see that I'm a much happier person than I was before.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Emily: I believe a lot of progress has been made for transgender women in the United States. However, this does not mean there isn't work to be done. Living in the Northeast in a very liberal city I have not had to deal with a lot of negativity, as I’m sure someone living further south would.
I know in a lot of places where it's still hard to change your gender on your birth certificate as well as many other things. I think there are many more improvements that can be made for trans women, and women in general in this country, and hope to one day see them happen in my time.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Emily: I think people being able to tell their stories is amazing, and can help many people in the trans community who might be struggling or just wanting to know they are not alone. However, when it comes to cisgender male actors playing trans characters this is where I take issue. I believe this hurts the trans community as it gives the interpretation that transgender women are men, which is false. I also feel it takes jobs away from trans actors and actresses who should be getting those roles to begin with. I hope to see this one day change.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBTQ community?
Emily: That is something I've been starting to do recently and want to do more of. I have met many other trans individuals whether at meetings or just through friends and online interactions. I'm hoping to start volunteering for Freedom Massachusetts soon I was approached by them recently about helping out and look forward to that.

Celebrating her name change with friends.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Emily: I'm a very simple girl! Jeans and a top are all I need. I won't go anywhere without my cardigan just in case. Also, friends have told me I look best in Reds, which I can't help but agree with.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Emily: Love is very important in my life, but not romantic love. I hope one day to find that type of love but what is most important to me is the love of my friends and family and the amount of support and acceptance I've received from them.
After I came out I did not lose one friend or family member in my life and for that I am very grateful, as it's helped me along the way during my transition in the good times and bad.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Emily: I have thought about this and I'm still undecided. It would be nice to get my entire experience out for others to read and focus on the positive side of transitioning.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Emily: I would say always believe in yourself and never doubt who you are, even if others do!
It may be hard, scratch that, it will be hard but in the end, you'll receive happiness unlike anything you've ever felt, and at the end, you'll thank yourself and never look back!

Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Emily: Right now, I'm looking to hopefully try to finish up electrolysis and look into what will come next in my transition.
In 5-7 years, I hope to be living this new life I’ve made for myself to the fullest and hope to be giving back and helping others who are starting to go through their own process like I did before them.
Monika: Emily, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Emily: You're very welcome Monika, Thank you!

All the photos: courtesy of Emily.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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