Thursday 23 February 2017

Interview with Jessnisa

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Jessnisa, a young Thai model, and video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Jessnisa!
Jessnisa: Hello Monika. Thank you so much for having me here and please call me Jess.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jess: I considered myself a very confident and hard-working individual.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Jess: I’m proud of the transition process and I want to share it and inspire all my transgender sisters out there who are still scared of taking hormones or even coming out to finally step out of their own shadows and start making themselves the women they always wanted to become.

Jess and her parents.

Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Jess: I have been taking hormones for 2 years, letting my hair grow too. That’s all I have done so far, but I’m also planning on getting surgeries such as facial feminization or breast implants.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Jess: Totally! I have changed so much within 2 years. My face structure changed, my body becomes more feminine (bigger hips, bigger boobs, etc.) I couldn’t ask more from the hormone therapy.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Jess: Poy Treechada, a Thai transgender model and actress. She won Miss Tiffany Universe (Thailand’s most famous transgender beauty pageant). In addition, she’s a role model to many transgender women in Asia due to her beauty, actions, and talent. She always says that “If you want to become a woman, you got to make yourself a woman from your heart and your actions.”
Monika: Do you have any transgender friends to support you?
Jess: I do have a lot of transgender friends! And we all support each other, give each other advice and we are like sisters.  

Before the HRT treatment.

Monika: Do you have a boyfriend? :)
Jess: Yea, I do have a boyfriend, he's Canadian. :)  
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Jess: To deal with my family. It was really tough since my father really hates trans-women, and I was the only kid. I got into a big fight with him a couple times, but eventually, I’m his kid and he doesn’t want to see anything else but me being happy. My family learned to accept me and support me for being who I am.

Her catwalk work.

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Jess: I will separate this question into 2 parts, Thailand's point of view and a foreign point of view.
Firstly, Thailand is one of the most accepting countries when it comes to transwomen. As you can see there are a lot of transwomen in Thailand. Still, being accepted is quite hard if you’re not good-looking.
It’s something pretty common, seeing trans-women in Thailand and it has been like that for over a decade so people don’t really tend to care or you can say they’re used to it. Let’s get back to being good-looking or not.
So, just like straight people, some of them get made fun of for being ugly, fat, or weird. That happens to trans-women too, if you’re good-looking and look feminine enough people won’t just leave you alone but also giving you attention and look up to you. On the other hand, if you’re not so feminine and not good-looking they will judge you no matter what.
For the second part, foreign point of view. Stereotype, that’s all I can say. Thailand is a pretty famous destination for western tourists due to the beauty of the country. Beautiful beaches and mountains and many more locations. Also, sadly, the nightlife and all the prostitutes. It’s pretty easy to get girls and trans-women here if you’re white and everyone knows about that so I don’t have to explain why.

Another modeling work.

So, the whole stereotype things come in. I always get asked if I’m a prostitute or if I want to get laid by those white tourists, which is so insulting. Yes, there are prostitute transwomen over here but that doesn’t mean that all trans-women are prostitutes. People need to respect us more and understand us more!
Monika: Thailand is also famous for its medical clinics and doctors, attracting transwomen from the whole world seeking feminization operations.
Jess: Yes, since Thailand is the world's most accepting place for transgender women, that's why there are a lot of surgeons and medical clinics providing medical services to them.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Jess: In Thailand, most trans-women appearing in films are mostly comedians. Making everyone laugh, being awkward, or anything at all to present a funny individual. Which I don’t really like, I feel like they only present us as non-talented and dumb people and we all know that’s not true.

Photo-shooting for denim ads.

They should realize how important it is to present trans-women on media as someone who’s smart, talented, and good-hearted to make people see that we can be more than just comedians and most importantly to encourage all the transwomen audiences.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBTQ community?
Jess: No, I don’t really know LGBT people in my local community.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Jess: Oh I love fashion! I usually wear very trendy outfits, mostly in black because I think it suits me and is a very sexy color. All my outfits are mostly inspired by Instagram and Pinterest models.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Jess: Very inspiring! I’ve had a chance to join one. It was a pageant for teen trans-women aged between 15-18, and I made it to the top 10. It was a very amazing experience. To have a beauty pageant just for transgender girls really shows how accepting people are and it’s a chance for us, trans-women to show the world who we are and what we can do.
Monika: At the beauty pageant, did anyone help you with dresses, make-up, and hairstyles?
Jess: Yes, I had a team of 3 persons managing everything.

Beauty Pageant.

Monika: Would you take part in the Miss International Queen pageant, the most famous transgender beauty queen in the world, held every year in Pattaya in Thailand?  I have heard that the pageant attracts many TV viewers in Thailand. Is the pageant more popular than football matches?
Jess: I'd love to! But I'll have to enter and win the Miss Tiffany Universe pageant first so I can be a representation for Thailand in Miss International Queen. And no football matches are more popular. Still, people give a lot of attention to the pageant too!  
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Jess: Not really, I’m not at the point where I can write such a book yet.
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of early transition, discrimination and hatred?
Jess: I’d like to tell them to stand up for themselves. This is for yourself not anyone else. If you have your dream, your passion, never be afraid to follow it. I understand that it might take risk and everything but still, it’s for yourself.

Beauty Pageant's Casting call.

Start doing now when you still can or be sad when you grow old, regretting about it.
No matter who you are, straight or not, some people will always hate you so do not care about what people say!
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Jess: I'm now doing a lot of modeling works and I would like to go for a casting aboard. Where do I see myself within the next 5-7 years? A famous transwoman model I would say haha.
Monika: Jess, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Jess: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you so much!

Jessnisa's YouTube vlog: Jessnisa.
All the photos: courtesy of Jessnisa.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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