Friday 17 March 2017

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.

My office dress code.

I have taken part in the modeling business since 2005. I participated in advertising campaigns of manufacturers of hosiery products and in such a way the idea to create my own company was born.
It is necessary to emphasize that to work in the field of production and sale of socks – It was my childhood dream when I was a few years. In 2014 I founded the First women's information portal "The World of tights and stockings from lady Anastasia-Eva", which covers all news from the world of tights and stockings, as well as fashion trends, where we write about new brands, give useful advice and so on.
In 2010 I established (together with friends) the charity Fund "We're All Women!», designed to help low-income women and girls in the post-Soviet countries and Asia. I can tell many curious things about myself. My life is so diverse and rich that my story will take a lot of time, dear readers.
How my transformation happened? It was step by step. I started to dress up at home and I really enjoyed myself and after, like from 2005, I started to go out as a girl. I felt really great at such moments! In the beginning, I wanted to attract attention to myself with my chic clothes. 
After some time I started to wear just really comfortable but classy things. I can say exactly, coming out for the first time is the most important moment to any transgender! After that, anyone starts a really new life of her evolution.
For three years I lived as a civil wife of one western businessman who worked in Kyiv. I was his beloved girl, friend, wife, etc... I felt so great being in public with him, in shops, theaters, fitness centers... But when he came back home and I had to stay in Kyiv, I had to change my style and could not go out as a girl so often as before... The presence of somebody who supports you in your transformation is very very important...
Monika: You have been dealing with transgender advocacy in Ukraine for many years. Could you mention some of your most important initiatives?
Anastasia-Eva: For the last 11 years I have been organizing meetings of transgender people in different cities of Ukraine for dating, socializing, cultural activities, and entertainment. It is important for me that transgender people did not feel vulnerable and are not left alone with gender dysphoria. It is also my patronage to provide jobs for transgender girls in the main office and on the production of our holding, even though these employees would have earned such a right, by their professional skills. My new plan is to create a Museum exhibit especially about transgender people, the history of the lives of ordinary Ukrainians who were born in the wrong body.

Ten years ago.

Monika: This is my first Ukrainian interview. How strong is the Ukrainian transgender movement? Are there many organizations that fight for transgender rights? 
Anastasia-Eva: There are few organizations in Ukraine, which deal with LGBT. One organization that would deal only with transgendered does not exist so far. The most famous public organization which helps us is Insight.
A landmark event in the lives of Ukrainian transgender people became the Kyiv International conference “Transgender Issues in Social and Medical Context” (22-24 of October 2015). It was the platform for communication and sharing experiences, and also for helping experts, state institutions, human rights activists, researchers, and trans-activists to find common ground. 
But most crossdressers, transsexuals, and other similar individuals prefer to live or meet with each other, keeping it in secret.
Monika: Are there any famous transgender leaders, artists, or politicians in Ukraine? 
Anastasia-Eva: Monroe or Monette, a popular transvestite diva, singer, and a permanent participant of the secular parties, fashion shows, and talk shows was the first who said that she is transgender. For 15 years Monroe has been visible in the public life of Ukraine and in the mind of the viewer she is regarded as an elegant, flamboyant, and confident woman.
The most famous transgender person in show business and among young people is the author and singer of songs, a participant of TV project "Factory of Stars" Boris April, who changed sex in 2014. And now her name is April. She lives in the United States and Asian countries. Her name was often mentioned in the dismissive sense, with sarcastically fun among many impolite people. But the person made her choice and continues to delight with her creative fans in Ukraine and abroad.

Model Anastasia-Eva Domani.

As a new example, I can mention Karina Minaeva from Crimea. She participated in the popular TV show "Supermodel in Ukraine". Afterwards she received an invitation from Polish film director Lukasz Ostalski to try herself as an actress. Eventually, she played one of the main characters in the social drama "New World”.
As for politics, a transgender person and a successful political career are incompatible in modern Ukraine. There is no chance to get jobs in state organizations as a high-rank employee. Such a person will not be invited to the lists of political parties and blocs at local or parliamentary elections. In my opinion, this is a temporary thing, and everything will change with the maturing of the young generation of Ukrainians and the liberalization of attitudes.

Dressed in favorite pantyhose.

Monika: Is it difficult to be a transgender woman in Kyiv?
Anastasia-Eva: It is not only difficult but dangerous. Various far-right organizations prey on homosexual and transgender people in social networks and on the streets. There is also a misunderstanding by society, these people are considered perverts and with the ill psyche.
It is impossible to get a job – you can start a career either in the area of sex services or in show business. Agree that this is not relevant for most transgender people. It would be nice to open a service studio in Kyiv, where transgender women can receive a wide range of services: makeup lessons, shopping support, including tours abroad, the organization of photoshoots in the studio and on the streets, in the parks.
It is really not enough comfortable. Such opportunity is provided by regular Kyiv transgender hen-parties that I organize. But what can I do alone on my own in a multi-million country? We can add to these issues such institutional barriers as bureaucratic difficulties and humiliating procedure of sex change, the long-time replacement of documents with the male name to female, the lack of specialists for the transgender people - endocrinologists, psychologists, gynecologists, and sexologists. In general, transgender women lead a passive way of living, being in their shells and try to avoid publicity.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Anastasia-Eva: I can say frankly – it was the reaction of parents and close friends. By the way, even nowadays not all of my former friends and relatives know about me as a transgender woman and a photo model. I didn't do official or public coming out. But it was not possible to hide information and I should treat it philosophically, without adding unnecessary fear. It is easy to speak and write. I agree. But I floundered in doubt, tortured and internally eating myself at the beginning.
Monika: At the time of your coming out, did you have any transgender role models that you could follow?
Anastasia-Eva: My transgender prototype was always lady Anastasia-Eva Kristel Domani, that is I myself. Inside I have felt female features since childhood. So this role is not temporary. Even if someone seems or could seem it in the past. I love to think, imagine and dream before going to bed or in the countryside, watching the rain through the window. 
I create my image, improve my appearance, and even make a purchase - the things that make me closer to the Woman in these moments. As you can see, it appears in the mind first, and then it is implemented. I didn't have idols among transgendered celebrities and by and my knowledge in this area was weak. Once upon a time dreamed about being a sexy secretary, an actress, and even a businesswoman working in the office of a large company!

Last preparations before the photo session.

Monika: What do you think about the perception of transgender women in Ukrainian society? How are they portrayed in the media?
Anastasia-Eva: The perception in society is quite ambiguous. It is easier for transgenders to find understanding and support in large cities, where there are many educated persons and cosmopolitan young people. Young and middle-aged people travel a lot, actively communicate on social networks, and are not burdened by the stereotypes of the Soviet past. 
There is more information in the press about people wanting to have a sex change or who have gone through the "transition". The national TV channels invite transgender girls in the studio for talk shows and reality shows, various dancing, and singing auditions. There is a media trend for unusual gender people.


All the photos: courtesy of Anastasia-Eva Kristel Domani.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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