Thursday, 11 May 2017

Interview with Juliet

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Juliet, a transgender woman that started transitioning after discovering herself in sensory isolation. She is a prominent figure in the float tank industry and has regularly documented her transition through her blog as well as on Reddit under her username, jungletigress. Hello Juliet!
Juliet: Hi. Thanks for interviewing me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Juliet: I’m a 31-year old trans woman and activist. I came out to myself in a float tank during an intensely introspective session. We’re being pulled into the limelight right now and I think that education is hugely important for trans people that feel comfortable enough in that role. I’m currently organizing my local pride event where I will host a booth letting people “Ask a Trans Person Anything.”
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on Reddit?
Juliet: For a couple of reasons. I like to write and I’m currently writing a book on my transition. I don’t expect it to be done anytime soon, but I do like to share some of my experiences and get feedback on certain ideas along the way. This is a very effective way to do that. Also, I know that when I was still questioning, being able to read other people’s experiences helped make me feel saner. I think the same question could be pointed at you and interviewing trans figures. There’s value in it.
Monika: I am sure you get many questions from your audience. What do they ask for? 
Juliet: I get some. Yeah. Not just on Reddit, either. I have had people approach me in the float industry or through the blog. Some are partners of trans people. Some are religious people who want to proselytize. Some are trans people just looking for advice. It’s incredible how invisible this process is from the outside looking in. Where do you start? How can we be sure we are what we are? There aren’t good systems in place to help us figure this out, which is really a shame because there are so many people who don’t want to see the transition as a legitimate therapy for dysphoria and they have just a loud of a voice as those trying to help.
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered?
Juliet: There is absolutely no way I can answer that. There are too many. The misinformation out there and what people assume about trans people are pretty out there.
Monika: At which stage of the transition are you right now?
Juliet: I have been medically transitioning on hormones for ten months. I’ve fully socially transitioned, and I’ve nearly completed my legal transition as Juliet.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Juliet: I mean, everyone wishes the results could be better. I’m still very much in the middle of the transition. Sometimes the in-between part is really hard. I’m happy with it, but I could be happier with it. 
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Juliet: Honestly, I’ve been really happy to see Laura Jane Grace take the spotlight. It seems like we’ve had so many unfortunate trans women take front and center with the conversation about us. I’m happy with how she’s represented us.
Aside from that, I’ve been extremely impressed with Misty Snow out in Utah. Her fight is harder than most and I think it shows a remarkable character that she’s willing to stand up as unabashedly herself on the political stage in Trump’s America.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Juliet: Mostly just that I have to keep doing it. I kinda thought when I first did it that I’d just come out the once and I’d be done with it. Nope. It’s pretty constant. There’s always another person from my past that I have to tell. Now that I’m finally appearing more feminine, I now have to come out to new people that I’m trans, as well. So it doesn’t look like it’ll stop anytime soon.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Juliet: In America? It really depends on where they are. For some of us, we live in progressive cities in blue states and we are afforded protections the same as any persecuted minority. Meanwhile, in deeply conservative parts of the country, trans people are fighting to just have a place to peacefully take a shit.
There’s a lot of attention on us right now, which sucks just because it riles up everyone who doesn’t like us. But ultimately I think it will present a net good. The vast majority of people are decent and willing to listen to us about what’s going on. But it only takes one asshole to give any of us a really bad day.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Juliet: They’re… getting better. Right now, people are fascinated with us. The nice thing about visibility is it does give us a platform, but we have to make sure that the information out there is accurate.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics? 
Juliet: Yes, somewhat. I think it’s important to be involved and informed, especially at the local level. I think the only way we’ll get any progress is when trans people have political representation. We’re getting there. There have been a couple transgender politicians who have really been making waves lately, which is a great sign.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBTQ community?
Juliet: I am. I regularly attend local support groups and I’m currently an organizer for my local Pride festival. I’m also very active online. For most of us, local groups are the second step we take. I think a lot of trans people turn to the internet first for support, so I think it’s important to be out there. I try to make myself available to people who are questioning or need support, and online communities are kind of the front lines for us.
Monika: The transgender cause is usually manifested together with the other LGBTQ communities. Being the last letter in this abbreviation, is the transgender community able to promote its own cause within the LGBTQ group?
Juliet: I think it’s necessary. There are several groups of people in the LGBTQ community that don’t want us there. Conservative gay men typically throw a crowbar down separating us and can be just as transphobic as religious advocates. There are also lots of cis lesbians who don’t like trans women in their groups and see us as men “invading” their spaces. It can be scary and confusing, but these are the groups we need to focus on the most, sometimes. Just because we’re different doesn’t mean that those that want to marginalize us see us that way.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Juliet: I’ve got terrible fashion sense. Usually, I just wear what’s hanging around. 
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of transition, discrimination, and hatred?
Juliet: To find others in the community for support. We all rely on each other. I can also say, pretty comfortably, that gender dysphoria doesn’t just go away. We have to address it somehow. Find what makes you happy with yourself.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Juliet: Hopefully, working at a non-profit focused on trans advocacy. This is a cause that I think deserves a lot of attention right now.
Monika: My pen friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transsexuals and transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Juliet: Absolutely. There is no wrong way to transition. And I think it’s incredibly sad that any trans person would feel limited in life simply because of who they are. There may be people against you, but that’s no reason to give up.
Monika: Juliet, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Juliet: Likewise. Thank you for taking the time.

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

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