Friday, 11 August 2017

Interview with Tuesday Meadows

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Tuesday G Meadows, an American transactivist, blogger, retired grocery store manager from Lexington, Kentucky. Hello Tuesday!
Tuesday: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Tuesday: My name is Tuesday Meadows, I live in Lexington, Kentucky. :)
Monika: I saw your short story in The New York Times series titled “Transgender Today.” Why did you decide to come out to the general public?
Tuesday: The purpose of the series was to tell stories of transgender individuals from varied backgrounds. The first 10 I read were people who had achieved great things such as scientists, doctors, lawyers, actors, and business leaders. I thought, “I wonder where the ordinary people like me are?” So I decided to give them a profile of me because there is no one more ordinary than me.
Monika: You transitioned into a woman at 51. Have you ever regretted doing this so late in your life?
Tuesday: We’ll actually I was 59, and absolutely do not regret anything. I am still very much me, I did not become a new person. I didn’t transition to be a woman. I transitioned to me outwardly, socially, and medically. I am now outwardly who I’ve always been inward.

Jennifer Boylan's book via Amazon.

Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Tuesday: Not many in 2013. Such a short time ago but a lot has happened in those 4 years. There was no one locally. Writers Jenny Boylan and Julia Serano wrote my favorite books and gave me hope. I joined a local support group but they were very secretive and not very out.
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Tuesday: Certainly not Caitlyn Jenner. For all the visibility she brought she has and continues to say horrible things. The few that I admire the most are Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, and Julie Serano although I don’t know any of them personally.
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?
Tuesday: Through the whole process I lost one friend. I retired at 56 to transition so I didn’t have the workpiece of the puzzle. The rest of my friends, people that I worked with, my three sisters, and especially my wife and daughter supported me. Many didn’t understand at first but they soon learned that I was who I always was and I will always be me. I am well-loved. The way it could be for everyone if there wasn’t prejudice - the way it should be.
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?
Tuesday: As far as progress, I never equate visibility with progress. For all of us, society pushes us back. Yes, there are more of us who have come out but for everyday women who transition there is a lot of transmisogyny and misogyny. Politicians use us as hate-bait to get votes by saying that we are really men in women’s public restrooms, churches use us as a means to tell people that society has lost their morals and only the church can provide those morals.

Going out.

Every day many of us lose our jobs because we come out (I was told that I would have been fired from my job if I had come out on the job even though I got great evaluations). 
Every day there is violence against transgender women of color. Young people get bullied at school, healthcare is not where it needs to be, legal obstacles are always thrown at us. Many of us are kicked out of churches that we have attended for many years. (For me I was kicked out of my church of 40 years.) There will be more and more pushback soon.
Monika: On the other hand, the restroom war is raging on and transgender women are killed on the streets…
Tuesday: Yep. And those two things are connected. Don’t think for a minute that there are not people, some very powerful, who don’t want to eradicate us. The Pulse Night Club shooting happened on Latin Transgender Night. Not a coincidence.
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?
Tuesday: I have found my own local organizations, that I serve of four different boards of directors, very open-minded. I have also found a lot of national organizations give us nothing but lip service. I think I make a difference locally. I can be the nicest person to deal with but they have learned not to cross me. I will not let them run over me.
Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Tuesday: The entertainment industry continues to drag its feet when it comes to using transgender actors to play transgender characters which are very problematic. They promise to do better but not much in the way of action yet. Not many transgender writers can make a living solely off of writing because they are not in widespread distribution. Trans models seem to be a flavor of the month sort of thing. We need more representation in all entertainment. Money talks and bullshit walks.

Transgender advocacy.

Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Tuesday: I do lobby my own state legislators. I have some pretty nasty stuff said to me but I am pretty tough. I’ve become friends with the mayor of Lexington (population 330,000) and he is good about listening to me about local concerns. 
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?
Tuesday: Not in my lifetime. This backlash will last another 20 years and then I think anything is possible. 
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion brands, colors, or trends?
Tuesday: My fashion sense is that will wear anything I damn well choose. I go from conservative dresses when I am addressing the board of directors, to short skirts when I go out with my friends, I don’t mind showing cleavage, even though I have scars on my chest from heart surgery.
I mostly wear blue jeans and t-shirts at home and in the daytime. Most days I wear a light foundation or no make-up at all but I don’t mind wearing make-up when I feel like it. When I travel I usually wear comfortable clothes and don’t mind sleeveless tops and tanks.
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 …
Tuesday: I 100 percent do not pass. I am not sure about surgery being freeing. I got surgery to align my body with how I want to look not how others want me to look. People’s discomfort with the way I look, sound, or dress is not my problem, it’s theirs. 
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Tuesday: I can’t say I like any beauty pageants. To me, it’s like we are telling men that they can judge us by our looks alone. If it makes someone feel good about themselves, then by all means do a pageant. We are all just trying to make our way in the world who I am I to judge.

Tuesday's article in

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Tuesday: I write a blog, a monthly column in our local LGBTQ magazine that I also serve as one of the editors, op-eds in the local newspaper, other online publications. I write enough without writing books.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Tuesday: My wife, Linda was the love of my life. We were married for 39 years. She was my whole world and she loved me dearly. She stayed with me through my transition and was my biggest supporter and defender. She died of cancer in September 2015 after fighting a courageous battle. I can’t imagine ever finding anyone else. I consider myself to be bisexual but I am very picky.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Tuesday: My newest project is a workshop to get information for parents of transgender children. We have 55 parents signed up to attend. I am now president of the University of Kentucky LGBTQ Alumni group and I am working on growing members. We formed less than a year ago.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Tuesday: Please, please, please find a competent therapist. If you don’t like the one you got find someone you do like. Read as much as you can different articles from different authors.

Running on the beach in Florida

Don’t believe everything you read. If your family and friends don’t support you find new friends and make them your new family.
Find support within or outside the LGBTQ community. Don’t let people tell you that you are wrong or misguided. Don’t try to numb the dysphoria with drugs and alcohol. Recognize your pain. Become resilient.
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?
Tuesday: I would never try to speak for others. When I write or give talks, I only say what it is for my life. I don’t like to give advice because we all have different circumstances that we deal with. I tell people that I am and have always been a girl. I was given a body not like other girls but I was no more no less female than any other female. Changing your outsides does not change who you are on the inside.
Monika: Tuesday, thank you for the interview!

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

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