Friday 23 June 2017

Interview with Melissa Seymour

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Melissa Seymour, a writer, a novelist from New South Wales, Australia, the author of “Mel's Fantasy Life” (2016) and “Mark's Real Life” (2017). Hello Melissa!
Melissa: Hi Monika, Thanks, I now reside in Melbourne, Victoria, which is an awesome place to live.
My novels have been renamed for a new broader website I have discovered. The names are now “Mel’s New Life” and “Mark’s Pathetic Life”—that is due for worldwide release July 30th, 2017 as I have made some minor adjustments.
“Mel’s Fantasy/New Life” is the first in my series, each part allows the reader to use their imagination as I stop sections abruptly. I also end each part on a Cliff-Hanger to hopefully maintain interest.
“Mark’s Real/Pathetic Life” is from 1965-1999, part 2 from 2000-2016 is currently being written. I intend to write a chapter of one novel per year about the previous year 2017 onwards.

Mel's New Life

Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Melissa: I have known since I was 5 years old that I was a girl, but felt as if I was a freak or weird, it wasn’t until I was 9 that I first heard the word Transsexual, I knew then.
I have been a loner most of my life, mainly because of an assault when I was 16 which gave me trust issues. I love to write and watch DVDs, but also get out with my friends, either shopping, movies or maybe the beach.
Monika: Is there anything like transgender literature? What does it mean to be a transgender writer?
Melissa: Yes, there is a lot around, which is good. I feel that writing our stories will help others questioning their Identity to realize that they are not alone, freaks or weirdos.
Monika: Your first book “Mel's Fantasy Life” is fiction, but it includes the story of your friend's transition in late 1950's Australia. What inspired you to share her story?
Melissa: I wanted to show young people what it was like for those who were considered “Different” and what they were subjected to, to be “Normal”, whatever normal is.
Monika: What was it like to be a transwoman in Australia at that time?
Melissa: It was a very difficult time for her, she never mentioned if she knew of any other Transsexuals in the 1950’s, but she was lucky to have her sister and girlfriend. I did leave some things out that I found to be rather sickening and not suitable to include.
Monika: “Mark's Real Life” is an autobiographical book. You are very open about your personal life there.
Melissa: Yes, I have been, but again have left some things out that I either feel are either too personal or I don’t feel are suitable, especially things that my first girlfriend and I got up to, those are only for us both.

Mark in 2006.

Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? 
Melissa: The first time, I was 35, in 2001, which was not successful, I re-transitioned back to male in 2005. This time around was in 2014 and has been much easier and more accepting as well.
I am writing part 2 of my real/pathetic life and will detail my first time around. June 15th, 2017 is my 3rd Anniversary.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Melissa: Not my first time, but this time, strangely Jazz Jennings is one and so is Eli Erlick, both in my mind are very strong young ladies.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Melissa: I truly admire and respect Kim Petras as she was able to live her life, her way from a young age and I think she still holds the record for being the youngest peep ever to have her Gender Surgery. We both follow each other on a Social Media site and do message each other at times, she has been very helpful to me lately. She made my Birthday as I woke up to find that she had followed me.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Melissa: Trying to tell others that Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are totally different things.
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 contemporary society? Are we just scratching the surface or the change is really happening?
Melissa: I think both, depending on where people live, here in Australia, it is acceptable to be Transgender, but I have found in many other countries, it is still against the law to be “Different”, we should be helping educate those. I still feel that education is key even here in Australia.

Mark's Pathetic Life

Here is an example, in 2015, I became friends with a then 15-year-old trans girl, who lived in New South Wales Australia. I asked her personal questions, but she got offended and unfriended me. I was unable to explain that I have never known any teen trans girls in Australia and therefore had no idea how the hormone replacement therapy worked. The good thing is though, she was the inspiration behind my first novel.
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?
Melissa: Yes, and no, it depends on the situation, but if we all stuck together, then we can all educate the world. I have found that there are elements of our community who do not agree that Transgenders exist and will not accept us. I have been abused by some.
Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Melissa: Some have been fine, but I have noticed that we are seen as a joke by others and we are therefore picked on for minor reasons, the bathroom issues are one. I generally find that we are finally starting to be seen as real and genuine and not a threat to most.
Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Melissa: I don’t normally, but will if I feel it needs to be. I certainly do, we need more to stand up and be vocal.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion brands, colors, or trends?
Melissa: I do, usually I will just wear whatever I feel is most comfortable to suit the weather, although we are well known to have 4 seasons in one day here. I don’t have any favorites, I just buy whatever looks good and fits me. Pink and Purple are my 2 favorite colors. I am not really up with trends but need someone to help me there.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Melissa: If they are tastefully done, then yes, but to me, I find that a lot of people will only perv on us, just like they do with Cis-Gender Pageants.

Megan (Melissa) in 2001 for Glamour shoot.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Melissa: I feel the most important love is to love ourselves fully and unconditionally first, before thinking about allowing others to love us. I am not that interested in finding anyone, especially as I let the 2 most important loves of my life go.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Melissa: Yes, my next 3 novels, re-raising my surgery money, I do hope to open a support center for those struggling with their Identity and/or Orientation, but that is a Pipe Dream and several years off yet.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Melissa: Be open and honest with yourself, the younger you transition, the better the hormones will help develop your feminine features, even if you still gravitate towards females, should not stop you. Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are two different and separate things. If any of you need advice at all, please email me.
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?
Melissa: I totally agree with her, I am so looking forward to my life beginning.
Monika: Melissa, thank you for the interview! 

For more information about Melissa, visit her page.

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

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