Sunday, 9 July 2017

Interview with Laura Smith

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Laura Smith, a transgender woman that documents her transition on as inharmony123. Hello Laura!
Laura: Hi Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Laura: I'm 49, single, and have been on hormones for nearly 3 years, and I live in the United Kingdom.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on Reddit?
Laura: As an older woman transitioning, I wanted to inspire others who transition later in life, and show them, that there is hope even for those late bloomers. So, what better way, was to show people what could be done, with makeup, and our appearance to make it possible to pass and blend in public? 
Monika: I am sure you get many questions from your Reddit audience. What do they ask for?
Laura: Where did I get my hair? What makeup do you use?
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered?
Laura: Are you a magician? Of course, I am…not!
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Laura: Yes, mostly. Obviously, we all want bigger boobs, but I have good genes, and although I'm older, my body and mind are adjusting well, so things can only improve over time.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow?
Laura: Fortunately no, most of them are out of touch with real living!

"Transgendered people are becoming
more mainstream, thanks to the media."

Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, many of us lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Laura: I'm from a religious background, and my coming out to them did not go down well, at all. In fact, I had to leave by force. My immediate family has been accepting of my decision. A few are struggling, but I'm giving them space and opportunity to see with the real authentic woman I now am. They say, be prepared to lose everyone. You have to at least face that possibility mentally, even if it doesn't happen.
The hardest thing about coming out is thinking about what people’s reactions will be to such news. My sister thought I had cancer or something just as serious and had absolutely no idea when I told her, bless her.
Coming out to everyone does get easier, as more family and friends are made aware of your decision to transition. I may still lose my employment as a result of going through with this, but hey, it's all worth it, just to become our authentic self.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Laura: The situation is improving all the time - society here is changing. Transgendered people are becoming more mainstream, thanks to the media. We are no longer hidden and ostracized by society in general.
Monika: What do you think about transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Laura: To be fair, the media often portrays a distorted view of the reality of being transgendered. No wonder society doesn't understand the majority of those transitioning in their community. It reminds me, of going into the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ at the fairground. You only get a distorted picture of yourself when you look into those mirrors, which is never a true reflection of the person standing before it. It's the same with 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?
Laura: I have never really been involved in the LGBTQ community.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Laura: I do love fashion. Usually, I'm dressed casually, although I do love to ‘glam’ it up occasionally, as most women do! Colors… black, coral, love white, any color that matches my skin tone, is what I love most. I'm quite happy shopping high street brands. 
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Laura: Love, very important - it binds humanity together. It's not something we can live without. Transitioning is lonely enough as it is, and without love as an essential ingredient, life has no purpose, does it?
Love and support of family certainly help. When you take hormones, your brain gets rewired as such. Relationships are based on having connections with people, having something in common. Humanity needs humanity.

"I'm dressed casually, although I do love to
‘glam’ it up occasionally, as most women do!"

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Laura: Perhaps when my journey is more complete, who knows?
Monika: What would you recommend to transgender women that are afraid of transition, discrimination, and hatred?
Laura: Fear stops us in many ways. You can't let fear become the victor. You will only be unhappy as a result. You must become your authentic self. Even though, at times, you face losing everything that you care about. It's not about everyone else, it’s about you. Becoming your true self.
Denial is not the answer. Facing what we are. Facing who we are, and self-acceptance of that fact is a major step forward. Yes, people will stare. But hold your head up high, you are stronger than they are. The problem lies with them, not you. Regret is not a pleasant feeling. You cannot turn back time, but you can change the future, your future.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Laura: My next step? Seeing the Gender Identity Clinic after waiting almost 3 years. Hopefully, that can help me with surgeries and hair removal, which will improve my appearance. The future? Living as a woman as I was meant to be. Just living.
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?
Laura: SRS or GRS is major surgery. Are you more or less complete as a woman after their surgery? Perhaps? Perhaps not? As one of my friends said, “at least your knickers fit afterwards”! If that's your sole reason for the operating table, then maybe you need to think again? Does our journey ever end? Maybe, we get absorbed into society and disappear?
Monika: Laura, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Laura: Thanks Monika, you are welcome.

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

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