Friday 31 March 2017

Interview with Milene

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Milene, a young transgender woman from Canada that documents her transition on Reddit. Hello Milene!
Milene: Hello! It’s very nice to finally speak to you!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Milene: Well, first of all, I would like to say that English is not my first language. I was born and raised French in Moncton, New Brunswick, and was living with my mom, dad, and two brothers, both younger than I am.
I’m not in school at the moment but I plan to apply for next September to eventually go to medical school! Other than that I currently work full time at a Starbucks in Halifax Nova-Scotia, where I’m working towards my coffee masters! (The black apron you occasionally see on a barista.)

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Interview with Brianna Tuerff

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Brianna Tuerff, a transgender woman who makes electronic and instrumental metal music under the alias ‘Brianna and the VSTs’. She documents her transition on as Neonnimrod and on YouTube with her channel BriannaIsGreat. Hello Brianna!
Brianna: Hello! Thanks for having me!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Brianna: Well, my love and passion is music. Everything to do with writing it, playing it, recording and producing it, etc. The science of sound has always fascinated me. My first serious musical project was a comedy punk band called Thunder Stump that I fronted years before I figured out that I was transgender. This helped me let out some rage.
My life pre-transition isn’t really fun to look back on, but I do have a comfortable nostalgia in listening to a wide variety of music and playing Super Nintendo games as they both remind me of the bits of my childhood where I could zone out of reality. I was born in and currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States, but I feel that my future in creative success lies elsewhere.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Interview with Mya Byrne

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Mya Byrne, an award-winning songwriter, poet, actress, and trans/queer activist. She made her stage debut at NYC's Dixon Place in 2014. She’s played some of North America’s best music festivals, and her art has been featured in The Advocate, Time Out, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, MSNBC, and many other media. Hello Mya!
Mya: Hey there Monika! Thanks for having me.
Monika: You can boast so many talents. Which vocation do you regard as most appropriate for you?
Mya: When it all comes down to it, I’m a rock-and-roll poet to my core. I mean, that encompasses everything I do.
Monika: Is there anything like transgender art? What does it mean to be a transgender artist?
Mya: I don’t think there is anything that can be compared to transgender art. So much great art has come from trans people, and it’s beautiful to witness this being recognized -- from the music of Wendy Carlos, Ahnoni, Lynn Breedlove, Star Amerasu, and Laura Jane Grace to the celebrated writing of so many here on your website, the brilliant films of the Wachowskis, actress Mya Taylor, and all of the people before our time who might have been considered trans today -- especially in the Black lesbian and blues music scene pre-World War 2, and of course the countless people who were living openly as gender-variant in Weimar Germany. Lili Elbe was an artist and a muse, too, openly celebrated in her time.

Friday 24 March 2017

Interview with Kenna Aloi

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Kenna Aloi, an American video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube in her vlog Kenna's World. Hello Kenna!
Kenna: Hey Monika, I am so happy to be able to have this interview with you to be able to share my story on another platform, thank you so much for reaching out to me, I really appreciate it!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kenna: So as you know by now my name is Kenna Aloi, I am currently 22, and I am a hardworking millennial. I work 7 days a week and try to manage a YouTube channel on top of that and try to fit in some personal life as well.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
Kenna: I love doing update videos on my life, where I am at, what I am doing. It's like an online diary that I get to share with the world hoping that people can relate and maybe be able to help them from my personal experiences. I can also look back and see how far I came from leaving my digital mark on the world which will probably last forever.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

Interview with Juli Grey-Owens

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Juli Grey-Owens, an American transgender rights activist. She regularly speaks at public forums about the need for statewide Transgender Civil Rights. Grey-Owens is the Executive Director of LITAC, the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition; the founder and owner of Transgender Management Consulting, an organization that works to help organizations become transgender-inclusive; and Board Co-Chair of TransPAC, New York’s first Political Action Committee. Hello Juli!
Juli: Hi Monika. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Juli: I guess that I would say that I have had an amazing personal journey. I’m now in my early 60’s and as I look back at my life, I can see how it has continued to change and develop into something I could never have dreamed of. I know that I have been very lucky, and have been “privileged” in many ways.

Monday 20 March 2017

Interview with Margaux Ayn Schaffer

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Margaux Ayn Schaffer, an American multi-media artist, designer, and activist. Margaux has had a long history of activism, going back decades; in Atlanta, she was the editor and designer of INSIGHT, deputy director of AEGIS, and art director and associate editor of Chrysalis Quarterly. She participated both as a panelist and planning committee member for the Southern Comfort Conference.
When a series of murders of transgender women occurred in Atlanta, Margaux was appointed to the Mayor’s Gay and Lesbian Task Force. This led to an op-ed in The Advocate, “Do Transgender Issues Affect the Gay Community,” which she co-authored with Dallas Denny. She was also an invited guest on the Joan Rivers Show.
After moving from Atlanta to Phoenix, Margaux worked in Information Technology. She played a critical role in the first all transgender production of the Vagina Monologues, presented on V-Day 2004 in Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center. Margaux not only performed one of the monologues (“My Vagina Was My Village”), but she created the visual materials, including the posters, keepsake books, and postcards.

Friday 17 March 2017

Interview with Ally

Today’s interview will be with Ally, a transgender woman that documents her transition on as Hey_Im_Allison. More recently she has launched the YouTube channel Allycat Makeup, which aims to help Transgender women learn to do makeup. Hello Ally!
Ally: It’s a real pleasure to speak with you, Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Ally: I am a 25-year-old transgender woman and I have been transitioning since June of 2016! The three things that I enjoy the most in my life are traveling, music and makeup. I’ve managed to see 15 different countries, played guitar for half of my life, and in the last 7 months became absolutely makeup obsessed. I’m openly trans and believe in being proud of being transgender.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on Reddit?
Ally: When I had first truly admitted to myself that I was transgender and needed to move forward with the transition, I had wanted to express those thoughts in a very concrete manner. I suppose posting on Reddit was my way of declaring it to the world in a way that I could not take back. From that point onward I felt it would be an interesting way to document my journey and how much has changed.

Interview with Anastasia-Eva Kristel Domani

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Anastasia-Eva Kristel Domani, an inspirational Ukrainian transgender activist from Kyiv, journalist, blogger, and fashionista, the Founder and President of the Foundation "All of Us - Women!" and Head of Kyiv Transgender initiative group “T-Woman – Ukraine” (since October 2016). Hello Anastasia!
Anastasia-Eva: Hello Monika!!! Thank you for the idea about the interview. I’m really excited about this!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Anastasia-Eva: My full name is Anastasia-Eva Kristel Domani, I was born on 1 February 1979, and live in Kyiv. I have felt like a woman since childhood. Yes, I am a transgender woman. After study at secondary school, I entered the Kyiv National Economic University in 1996 and successfully graduated 5 years later. During years of studying, I kept a secret about the fact of my female soul and about the interests and character that live in me. I secretly wanted to be a woman. Parents and friends could not know about it, because we lived in the first post-Soviet years, and the stereotypes about the two sexes, that a boy cannot become a girl after birth were around me.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Interview with Annie Wallace

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Annie Wallace, a Scottish actress from Aberdeen, one of the most prominent LGBTQ persons in the UK, computer science and sound engineering specialist, musician, known for her role of Sally St. Claire in the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, the first-ever British transgender actress to be nominated for a BAFTA award, listed no.17 on the 2015 Rainbow List and no.39 on the 2016 Pride Power List, winner of The 2016 National Diversity Awards "Celebrity of the Year" award. Hello Annie!
Annie: Hi!
Monika: Are you a descendant of Sir William Wallace that we know so well from the well-known film Braveheart (1995)?
Annie: I could be, couldn’t I? I suppose all Wallaces are, somewhere down the line… but I have no proof of that whatsoever!

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Interview with Cecilia (buttercupcece)

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Cecilia, a woman of trans experience that documents her life on as buttercupcece and on Instagram as cc.skates. Hello Cecilia (cc)!
cc: Hi!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
cc: Well, I’m a college kid, 20 years old, right now with a plan to transfer universities from Northern Michigan in Marquette Michigan to Grand Valley State in Grand Rapids Michigan.
I’m gonna be studying Diagnostic Medical Sonography, whatever that means. Skateboarding is my absolute biggest passion, but I also love to trail run, surf the great lakes, ice & rock climb, cook, eat, get tattoos, and just generalized punk shit.

Monday 13 March 2017

Interview with Anshu Christa Jacobson

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Anshu Christa Jacobson, the Headmistress of the Budo Ryu Kai, one of the most sought after instructors in the traditional and eclectic martial traditions, member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and said to be the only non-Japanese to receive a Menkyo Kaiden (The highest level license that exists in Japanese martial arts.) and Sokeship (inheritor and grandmaster) of a koryu bujutsu/ninjutsu tradition. Hello Anshu!
Anshu: Hello! It is an honor to be asked to do an interview with you!
Monika: You are quite a lady, could you say a few words about yourself?
Anshu: Well… I’m a very eclectic person that does many things. Outside of the martial arts I also work in the adult entertainment industry as an escort/courtesan (geisha) and erotic dancer.
I’m also very open about my spirituality as I am an active pagan who practices Wicca. Wicca is a nature religion, that is derived from very old spiritual and magical practices that help one become more connected to the earth.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Interview with Marie-Pierre Pruvot

Monika & Elaine: Today it is our pleasure and honor to interview Marie-Pierre Pruvot, also known as Bambi, one of the most inspirational transwomen in France, a former showgirl of Le Carrousel de Paris, actress, French literature teacher, the author of two biographical books. Hello Marie-Pierre!
Marie-Pierre: Hello, dear friends.
Monika & Elaine: The French transgender cabaret culture is regarded as one of the most important elements of the history of transwomen in France. Your unforgettable shows at Chez Madame Arthur and La Carrousel attracted a lot of interest, which helped the audience to get acquainted with the trans phenomenon. How do you recollect those years?
Marie-Pierre: I left Algiers at age 18 and I came to Paris to work at Mme Arthur’s and at the Carousel. It was 1953. Coccinelle was 22 years old. She was already famous in France and the French-speaking world.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Interview with Carla Combs

Monika: Carla, I am so delighted that I can interview you again! Let me briefly introduce you to those who have not read our first interview. Carla Lewis is a wife, father of two adult children, and grandmother of three. She is also a veteran of the United States Air Force Space Command serving in support of Operation Desert Storm and was discharged in 1991 when it was discovered she was transgender. Carla currently works as a software developer for a health care company in Nashville, TN.
In addition, she is a full-time student and part-time writer, speaker, activist, and advocate for the transgender community. Her activism was ignited in 2008, when she and her wife, Jaime Combs, witnessed a lone gunman enter their church sanctuary and kill innocent people, including a good friend, all because her church welcomed LGBT people. To that end, Carla has tried to use her voice to advocate for equality for transgender people and speak for those that cannot speak out because of fear or intimidation. Hello Carla!
Carla: Hey, Monika! I'm thrilled to be giving you an update since our last interview.
Monika: It has been 4 years since our first interview. A lot of things must have changed in your life… I have just noticed two changes. Firstly, you changed your surname!
Carla: OMG! It *has* been four years. Well, yes, there have been a few changes in my life. I don't even know where to begin.

Friday 10 March 2017

Interview with Hannah Abigail

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Hannah Abigail, a German college teacher, skydiver, trans advocate, and video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Hannah!
Hannah: Cześć – Hello, Monika. Thanks so much for reaching out to me. I feel so honored to be interviewed by you considered the many famous names on your website.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself? You have some Polish roots, don’t you?
Hannah: Yes, my great-grandma was Polish. But my ties with Poland stem much more from personal experience. I grew up in Cottbus, Germany, and learned Polish as my third foreign language at grammar school and spoke it almost fluently in the 1970s and 1980s when I visited so many Polish regions. I learned a lot and keep having a special, cordial, and respectful relationship with Poland.

Thursday 9 March 2017

Interview with SOSara

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Sara, a Canadian video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube as SOSara. Hello Sara!
SOSara: Hey Monika, thanks for giving me an opportunity to share my story and hopefully reach those who need some uplifting and those who need a better understanding of us.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
SOSara: I’m really just a regular person. I didn’t transition and decide hey, now that I’m finally expressing myself as a woman, I should become a super glam diva! I just work hard to live my life to the fullest and give my 2 beautiful daughters the best life possible. 
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on YouTube?
SOSara: I'm sharing all my transition details from the ups to the downs because I feel like people need a better understanding of what it’s like in our shoes, and people aren’t getting that from Caitlyn Jenner unfortunately.
I also share it all to help the transgender community know that they aren’t alone in their struggles, but that they too can get through it and be happy and confident in their skin.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Interview with MJ Rodriguez

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview MJ Rodriguez, an inspirational actress, known for her roles in Nurse Jackie (2011), Carrie Diaries (2013), Dear Pauline (2014), Blank_My Life (2016) and Netflix show Luke Cage (2016), Feature Film Saturday Church (2017) as well as the role of Angel Dumont Schunard in the Original Off-Broadway Revival of Rent (2011). Hello MJ!
MJ: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
MJ: Well, I am a Jersey Girl Born and raised. I truly enjoy acting as well as singing and I'm glad that it has brought me this far!
Monika: When did you decide that acting would be your vocation? MJ: As soon as I booked Rent I knew that’s where the Road/Journey needed to begin. Monika: It seems that the role of Angel Dumont Schunard in the Original Off-Broadway Revival of Rent was a stepping stone for your acting career …
MJ: It totally was, I was originally going to school, at Berklee College of Music and studying for a degree in Song Writing, but then Rent came around, and at first I was a little hesitant due to schooling as well as the chances of being turned down, but I had to take that chance and luckily, I was blessed enough to receive the role.

Monday 6 March 2017

Interview with Fay Louise Purdham

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Fay Louise Purdham, a British beauty queen and media celebrity from Newcastle, nominated for the Positive Role Model at The National Diversity Awards 2017. Hello Fay!
Fay: Hey, how are you!
Monika: Doing fine. Thanks! Could you say a few words about yourself?
Fay: I’m Fay, a 29-year actress, model, spokesperson, ambassador to escape, and patron to courageous kids.
Monika: You hit the headlines 2 years ago when the British media covered your participation in the 2015 Miss Transgender UK. Did you like the contest?
Fay: The contest was a platform builder to help me in my career, and help others going through similar things, and also to help on my journey to motherhood.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Interview with Beatrice Wong Suet-ling

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Beatrice Wong Suet-ling, an inspirational woman from Hong Kong, a 36-years-old out and proud transgender IT support staff, and amateur filmmaker from Hong Kong. Hello Beatrice!
Beatrice: Hello Monika, I’m so honored to be interviewed by such an international platform, never thought I could have global appeal!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Beatrice: I’m a simple transwoman from Hong Kong. I’ve appeared in news media a few times (thus the discovery by Monika) but I do not consider myself a representative or an activist. I do not believe I am well versed in academic speak or inspirational speak, I’m just simply available to talk about my experiences. A lot of transgenders hide from the limelight because no matter how society has progressed, there is always some form of social stigmatization in some corner.
But I’m not afraid to stand out into the limelight because I believe the world is a big place and if one corner doesn’t accept me, there’s always some other corner for me to exist in. I also made a documentary about my transition which has been shown in a few festivals. (I will share my documentary with your blog once the screenings are finished. I’ve submitted it to a few other festivals and pending results so it will be a few months before I can publicly share my video).

Saturday 4 March 2017

Interview with Savannah Burton

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Savannah Burton, a Canadian actress, and accomplished athlete, the first out Trans athlete in Canadian history to compete in team sports internationally. Hello Savannah!
Savannah: Hi Monika! It’s wonderful to talk with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Savannah: I’m originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland Canada, and moved to Toronto in my early 20’s. My 2 biggest passions would have to be acting and participating in sports.
Monika: When did you decide that acting would be your vocation?
Savannah: I’ve loved movies from a very early age. They have the ability to inspire and elicit incredible emotion. After my first acting class in my 20’s, I was hooked. Having positive reactions to scenes I was performing made me want to continue this joyful experience we call acting.

Friday 3 March 2017

Interview with Chloe Schwenke

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Chloe Schwenke, a human rights and peacebuilding activist, development practitioner, and academic with over three decades of international experience, including 15 years of work while based in the Global South. She is the Director of the Global Program on Violence, Rights, and Inclusion at the International Center for Research on Women.

Monika: The transgender community is said to be thriving now. As Laverne Cox announced, “Trans is beautiful.” Teenage girls become models and dancers, talented ladies become writers, singers, and actresses. Those ladies with an interest in politics, science, and business become successful politicians, academics, and businesswomen. What do you think in general about the present situation of transgender women in American society? Are we just scratching the surface or the change is really happening?
Chloe: I would hardly say that the transgender community is thriving, simply because a few transgender models and actors become celebrities, and a few trans folks are publishing. Yes, we are making our presence known more emphatically, but we are also facing extraordinary push-back, violence, exclusion, humiliation, scapegoating, and – globally – a rising death rate from extreme violence.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Interview with Erin Swenson

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Erin Swenson, an American licensed psychotherapist, transgender rights activist, the first-known mainstream Protestant minister to make a gender transition and retain ordained office. Since turning age 60, she has completed 34 triathlons, including two Half-Ironman events. Hello Erin!
Erin: Hi Monika. What an honor to be interviewed by you. Congratulations on your work as a transgender activist.
Monika: When I read about your triathlon experience I thought, wow such a tough lady! Could you say a few words about yourself?
Erin: I think being transgender requires a certain amount of toughness, so my interest in triathlon fits my temperament. I am not fast (although I tend to win/place in age group races) and my goal for every race is to have fun and cross the finish line vertically. I am 70 years old and find cross-training (swim/bike/run) very helpful to maintain my own health and wellness. But going through a gender transition is MUCH tougher than a Half-Ironman.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Interview with Paula Coffer

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Paula Coffer, a retired US Army Finance Officer with many years of military service in Vietnam, Germany, Korea, and the United States. She later served with the Department of Defense and Department of State in Afghanistan and is the author of the biographical book entitled “A Walk in Confidence” (2017). Hello Paula!
Paula: Hello Monika and thank you for taking the time for this interview. It is an honor to be a part of the illustrious group you have interviewed in the past.
Monika: You can boast a fantastic military career. Could you say a few words about yourself?
Paula: I enlisted in the US Navy at 17 years of age and during my 4-year enlistment I spent 3 years and 2 months on sea duty while making 3 WesPac (Western Pacific) tours of which 2 were to Vietnam. I joined Army ROTC while in college and accepted a commission as a Finance Officer. During these 24 years, I struggled with living the dual identity of satisfying my military responsibilities and family obligations and of accepting the gender identity that I held so close to within. Don’t ask, Don’t tell did not exist during my military career. If asked, I had to tell and I would have been released from the military as unfit and probably with an ‘other than honorable’.

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