Saturday 1 July 2017

Interview with Charlotte Flanigan

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Charlotte Flanigan, a British writer, and the author of the biographical book titled “The Whole Shenanigans: Charlotte's Story” (2017). Hello Charlotte!
Charlotte: Hello!
Monika: You were born in Germany? Could you say a few words about yourself?
Charlotte: Well, I wasn't as such born in Germany but went there from a young age and fell in love with the country and for some strange reason I found speaking the native tongue natural and was surprised by how comfortable it felt.
Monika: Your most visible hobby is tattooing… :)
Charlotte: Yes, tattoos are a big part of my life from a young age. I fell in love seeing the stories behind the tattoos people had got whilst young.
Monika: Why did you decide to write your autobiography?
Charlotte: Well, the whole intention was not to write a book, but it all started out as I guess I was self-healing the body and ridding myself of the past that was trapped within me.

Charlotte's book via Amazon.

Monika: Which aspects of your experience can be useful for other transwomen?
Charlotte: Well I don't think I can give any useful hints or tips as we all I guess have to get on the right track ourselves. But I do know that we all should not worry what others think as we are all unique.
Monika: I watched your movie in which you talk about your transition together with your wife Agnieszka. Such a romantic story! A type of Love conquers all stories!
Charlotte: Thank you, we were so nervous sitting there, and yes, we truly believe that we are soul mates, and I guess we were so lucky in finding each other.
Monika: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself? Was it a difficult process? 
Charlotte: Yes, a very difficult time and accepting that the very popular man was no longer.
And as for what age did I transition? Well, I was always told a lady never gives her age away haha but I will say I'm in my 3rd year of transitioning.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models, that you followed?
Charlotte: Yes, Shakina Nayfack. She is such a brave trans female who stood up and did live acts. But I can say my biggest role model has to be my wife Agnieszka.
Monika: Are there any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Charlotte: I admire and respect every transgender female as it can be such a difficult time.
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, many trans women lose their families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out? 
Charlotte: Yes, it can be very difficult, and yes I also had to pay a price in losing family members, along with great friends. As for job no, being self-employed, I guess, has its perks.
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 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?
Charlotte: Yes indeed, trans men and women, we all have come so far but I don't like to give or say that term as I find it makes trans people sound a little alien to others. 
However, I would just like to add that there is a lot of confusion among cisgender people, as it seems to me that their idea of trans is that we are all just cross-dressing for kinks. And as we speak a TV advertisement appears for a well-known breakdown company showing 3 men dressed as women so they can acquire help. I don't think this helps the trans community.
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?
Charlotte: Yes, I really think that trans should stand alone. 
Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters that have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Charlotte: well done to all that can find a little fame.
Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Charlotte: No, I try not to get into any debates, especially politics but I'm sure the next trans woman can do just as good a job as anybody.
Monika: Do you think that in our lifetime we could live to see the day when a transgender lady could become the President of the USA? Or the First Lady at least?
Charlotte: I shouldn't see why not us. Trans women have the best of both sides of the human brain.

Professional photo-shoot.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion brands, colors, or trends?
Charlotte: No, I'm not into fashion. I try to go with styles though, but I'm the kind of woman who wears what I like.
Monika: I have read somewhere that cisgender women were liberated thanks to the development of contraceptive pills whereas transgender women are free now thanks to the development of cosmetic surgery, so they are no longer prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome …
Charlotte: As I said we are all on our own track and some of us worry over small things and some don't.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Charlotte: Amazing and there should be more for as long as they are true trans women.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Charlotte: Love comes in all shapes and forms, and it's truly only been in the last 3 years that I can see the importance of love.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Charlotte: Yes, I'm in the process of starting my new book about the love and lives of the children who are affected by having trans parents with short stories from various trans people.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Charlotte: Try and talk to anybody never feel that you are unable to speak about your dysphoria.
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?
Charlotte: Yes, great words. I had a conversation today with a couple; let's say in their 60s, and I said I am going to live forever. Their reply was oh no! Get to 70 and that's it. It shocked me that so many people regardless of gender don't, or should I say, don't push their limits.
Monika: Charlotte, thank you for the interview!
Charlotte: You are very welcome. It was my pleasure. Love, Charlotte.

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

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