Sunday, 26 February 2017

Interview with Yvette Tourettes

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Kelly Pärlefrost, a content-maker on YouTube from Stockholm, Sweden. Going by the pseudonym “Yvette Tourettes” on her channel. Hello Kelly!
Kelly: Greetings Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself and your daily life?
Kelly: My name is Kelly Pärlefrost, 23 years old (turning 24 this year) from Stockholm, Sweden. I'm an assistant nurse and my job used to be in a hospital ward for old people with various health conditions.
Now I'm going to school to get authorization for college studies so that I can become a pharmacist/chemist. I spend a lot of my free time on YouTube watching other people's content since I myself like creating similar content. Besides that most of my time is spent being with friends, going out, or studying.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Kelly: I've always, ever since I began living as a girl at the age of 14/15, had some sort of desire to keep my trans-identity a secret or something not to talk about openly with others. My dream has always been to be a girl like any other cis-girl but I never really wanted to be associated with the word “trans”, because I always thought that other people would view me differently than before.
Today, many years later I've come to the conclusion that I am what I am and that I should embrace it. It made me realize that all those years of struggling are a big part of me as a person. You could say that I felt kind of “embarrassed” over my transgender identity.

At a cafe in Stockholm.

Then, just a few months ago I made a decision that I was going to do a video showing me from a very young age all up to recent. It was going to be my little art project. The video has pictures of me with my age specified and you can see many changes in my appearance and style. I think that other people should be able to see my story if it can help them in the future.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Kelly: There are a few actually but the one that I think is my biggest role model must be Caroline Cossey. She lived a life working as a model back in the '80s and had to face all the problems being outed in a society without all the progress we have today.
I want to read her autobiography “My Story” but unfortunately I haven't yet. I think it's so cool that she was in a Bond movie and also the first trans-woman to pose for playboy! Love her hair also!
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Kelly: We have it way better than in many other countries but that doesn't mean it's great. Our society has a long way to go still. We have laws that protect us from discrimination, but many times we don't get justice in cases of discrimination. It has a lot to do with flaws in the judicial system and that affects how a crime is sentenced.
As a transperson, you get harassed a lot and in many different situations and it's rare that the assaulter gets punished. I know people that have gotten physically abused in broad daylight and thus going to court the guilty people never even got a penalty for what they did as a result of the poor judicial system. 
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Kelly: It's great! The more visibility we get and all our troubles in society comes up to the surface, people will understand more and that is going to create more awareness. In the long run, I think it will increase our position in society but also change how other groups of people in our society view us.
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBTQ communities. Being the penultimate letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBTQ group?
Kelly: I think that the last 10 years or so have made the trans-community way bigger and open. Today we have a bigger voice and are able to do more. We have more power and influence on society than before. I'm very glad to live as a transperson today with all the support and help you can get.

Before a night out.

Through many decades it has been the gay people struggling for equal rights and transpeople never had the same political position or had the voice to speak up until now. I don't really think the “T” fits into “LGBTQ” since Trans has nothing to do with sexuality. We've always had to take our own stance and fight for our rights to be who we are without other people's support behind us. Until this day we are the most harassed group of people in the community and a lot of the discrimination actually comes from gay people which is kind of bizarre if you ask me.
That's also a reason I don't think we should be a part of their community because we shouldn't have to side with people that offend us and simultaneously pose as our allies. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
Monika: I liked your make-up tutorial video. Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Kelly: Thank you very much, I had a good time creating it. I like vintage fashion but not the fashion we have today, I wouldn't consider myself a trend follower. I dress in quite simple, sporty outfits but at times I wear skirts or dresses. My style differs from time to time, some days I want to be sporty, other days I want to look like I live in a palace, though I love apparel and stuff from the 80's the most.
I must say though that make-up interests me more than fashion. With make-up, you can do such unique looks and it can reflect your mood or a feeling. You can also represent a specific time or era with the right make-up look. It also makes you look more refined and fresh.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Kelly: It seems like a fun thing to participate in if that's what you enjoy doing. I've never felt the desire to participate in a competition like that but who knows, one day I might if it feels like the right thing to do.

Then again there is a controversy around these beauty pageants, with people in the community. Some believe that it enforces a bad picture of trans-women, that we are just objects, and that the only important thing is to be attractive or beautiful => Lower our human value in society and give a bad representation of who we are as people. I can agree to some of it to a level, but regardless of that, everyone has their own dreams and can make their own choices. All of us don't like the same things, it's something we just have to get over.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Kelly: As of where I am today, I have no intentions to do so. Though, I love that there are so many memoirs and autobiographies out there written by fellow sisters in the community! Of course in the future I might change my mind, you never know. I also believe this helps with our visibility in society.

Classic Hollywood Starlet.

Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of transition, discrimination, and hatred?
Kelly: You can't live your life trapped and pretending to be someone else. The only way for you to be happy is to be yourself. It's not worth it to live as someone else just to be “safe” because then you throw away who you really are. Don't ever sacrifice who you are for someone else. In the end, you only have yourself so make sure it's really you.
I believe there's no one who goes through life without being subjected to some sort of discrimination or unwanted opinions, but we still keep on living and fight for who we are! Some day it's going to resurface anyways. Just do it, that's my advice.
Monika: Besides going to school and focusing on an academic future, is there anything else you wish to do with your life?
Kelly: I have some sort of “dream” or ambition going into modeling or acting. Other people have told me that I have potential since my appearance and facial features are different, I'm very tall also (193 cm / 6'4”). A dream would be to travel the world and see other places, experience different cultures, food, and entertainment. But I like living my life day by day and don't rush things.
Monika: Yvette, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Kelly: The pleasure was all mine!

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

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