Friday 10 January 2020

Interview with Hope Giselle

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Hope Giselle, an American activist from Miami, writer, artist, activist, founder of The #AllowMe Movement, and author of the biographical book titled “Becoming Hope: Removing the Disguise” (2018). Hello Hope!
Hope: Hi Monika!
Monika: You describe yourself as an artist and activist. Could you say a few words about yourself?
Hope: I’d like to call what I do “being the change I want to see”. I found my passion by simply inserting myself where I once complained. I found that it was easier to create solutions and art rather than criticize them.
Monika: One of your main initiatives is The #AllowMe Movement, a social collective with a goal to cultivate the talents of young LGBTQIA leaders and creatives of color. What is the current agenda of this movement? 
Hope: We recognize the lack of representation of LGBT youth of color in leadership positions and understand that the stories of the queer community need to be told from a firsthand perspective by the folks living them. AllowMe seeks to create a space to build and nurture our future LGBTQIA leaders and creatives of color and provide platform, material, and guidance for those who would not have access otherwise.
Monika: Your biographical book was published just a couple of months ago. Why did you decide to write the autobiography?
Hope: I was honestly tired of the limited view of trans women from the lens of a struggle that leads to prostitution and then later success. I wanted a raw account from a kid that grew up in “ the ghetto” and always found a better way to see my surroundings I wanted a personal statement and experience to show readers that there is life before my trans identity. There are similarities beyond the differences.

Available on Amazon.

Monika: Your book is very honest. You recount what it was like to be the odd ball out in a family that didn't get it, a community that doesn't accept it, and partners that were confused by your journey to "Becoming Hope". Which aspects of your experience can be useful for other transwomen?
Hope: We all have unique journeys I’d like to think thy this book is a helpful reminder when you’re feeling alone as a trans woman or sad about your current circumstance. There is always a girl like you who’s worth continuing the journey for. I became Hope so that the next girl has a chance to “become”.
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?
Hope: Honestly although my mother and I didn’t speak for quite a bit I didn’t see it as a price I was content with knowing that I was making the best choice for me. The hardest part of it all was reminding myself that gay men don’t like women of any kind, LOL. Dating was and still is weird because of that.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Hope: Janet Mock
Monika: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
Hope: I love Janet Mock and her candid ability to be unapologetically inspiring. She’s just living the fame seems tertiary and that’s what moves me about her.
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?
Hope: Hmmm, I think it’s a fine line that skates on both of those things. We are stepping up to the plate as progressive members of society. Breaking the glass ceiling. We stopped scratching a while ago, but I will say a lot has been done in visibility work to curate that change.
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?
Hope: I often feel and I’m sure that most other trans women will agree that the T stands alone. As unfortunate as that is it’s become a well-known fact that if given the opportunity most of the rest of the acronym will fight for their rights and social issues before ever uttering a word about the injustice that their trans brothers and sisters face every day. It’s just really unfortunate that at the home of every battle for quality or injustice trans folk lead the pack, however when our issues arise the LGBT community seems to fall short in the cavalry department.
Monika: What is your view on transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Hope: The representation of trans folks in the media especially those of color has somewhat disappointed me. While I understand and revel in the fact that trans folks are now getting jobs in such public spaces I can’t help but feel like it’s the same story over and over and over again. Trans women are more than escorts comic relief and fashionistas however, it seems as though whenever we get a chance to showcase those things on television they never last. People like the idea of making us look like a joke they like the idea of making us feel less they had an interior which is why books like mine and Janet's are imperative for our community day remind folks that we are indeed more than our gender And that we have something to say.

Glamour shot.

Monika: Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Hope: Yes actually work really closely with a lot of the people at HIC we’ve been doing a large amount of lobbying around the quality that we are sure that it’s going to be Ruled in our favor but we need to make sure that more people are educated on the fact that in the US there are still 28 states where you could be fired or removed from your home simply for being transgender and I do think that trans spokes getting around that issue and making it personal for the folks in their life as well as those people they come in contact with is going to make a huge difference in politics and the way that they are seen as far as trans folks are concerned.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion brands, colors, or trends?
Hope: I love fashion and I actually really like dresses. I actually had a friend comment on the fact that they’ve never seen me in a pair of pants which is not true however, I do typically prefer things that I can just throw on. I am Asu lever anything that sparkly and covered in rhinestones is usually my best friend because I am into makeup outside of my advocacy, my closet looks like a permanent funeral, but I like to layer my blacks in fashion. I pretty much wear any and everything I’m not really a brands girl but I do have a couple of stores that I go to on a regular basis Zara and ASOS being at the top of that list.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Hope: I’ll be brief on this one considering that I’m not particularly comfortable getting in-depth at the moment. I will say that Love is Extremely important to me and guard it like my life depends on it.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Hope: just a few things I can’t mention at the moment.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls and women struggling with gender dysphoria? 
Hope: Remember that it’s all about how you feel about yourself. The opinions of others I things to take into account but not to hold onto You have to remind yourself every day that you measure up to the version of you that you want to be not the version of you that the world says is OK.
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 you agree?
Hope: I don’t think our dreams should begin on an operating Table either I believe that we have to see ourselves as we are before we become that if you don’t believe in who you are what your vision how do you expect other people to respect it. Waiting on the final results creates expectations that you may not live up to you but loving the now and the before creates room to be more excited about whatever the after holds. 
Monika: Hope, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Hope Giselle.
© 2020 - Monika Kowalska

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