Thursday, 28 May 2020

Interview with Bella Joie

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Bella Joie, an American vlogger, and transgender activist. Her Bella Joie vlog on YouTube was created in 2018, and as we speak, it can boast almost 700 thousand views and over 5 thousand subscribers. Hello Bella!
Bella: I'm super excited to be a part of your blog, the whole purpose of this blog is so important for so many transgender women all over the world! It has been such an interesting experience growing my YouTube channel and sharing my story. One of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Bella: I am a 21-year-old transgender woman, I started my transition at 17 years old during my senior year of high school. I have been on hormones for 3 years now.

Courtesy of Bella Joie.

Monika: What or who inspired you to document your life in front of thousands on the Internet?
Bella: There were two people on YouTube that had inspired me to share my journey and life on the platform. The first person is GiGi Gorgeous, I had watched her for years and I thought she was such an inspiring person and shared so much valuable information about the process and her experiences.
The other person is La Demi she shared a lot about being transgender around the time I was just starting transitioning, I found her to be so inspiring her fearless, confident and self-loving attitude really encouraged me to start my transitioning with that same mindset. 
Monika: Do you write scenarios for your videos or do you just improvise?
Bella: I just improvise, I come up with a topic or title for a video and then just go from there, my subscribers like that I don't have a talking point and what not because it's more genuine and it feels more like friends are just having a conversation.
Monika: Your YouTube channel is becoming very popular. You must receive many questions from other trans girls...
Bella: Yes, I do receive a lot of questions from other girls, I always try to answer them to the best of my ability and just share my experiences to allow some insight for them! It's such a great feeling when women feel comfortable enough asking questions about life, transitioning, dating, etc.

Courtesy of Bella Joie.

Monika: YouTube is full of girls sharing their transition stories and providing different types of advice. Are there any aspects of transition that you think are not covered properly or missing?
Bella: I think sometimes the deeper struggles girls may feel during their transition may not be covered much. Sometimes social media can just present all the happy aspects of life, which is understandable.
I think being trans and sharing your story online it's necessary to be vulnerable, open, and honest. So many other girls are feeling the same way as you are, and they feel just as alone so if we talk about those hard things then it won't seem so lonely and taboo.
I filmed a video called " Gender dysphoria" It was one of my hardest videos to film but I was so open and emotional. The response from that video was amazing and so many women connected to that.
Monika: You have a couple of videos about relationships and dates. Usually, it starts with a question of whether we should reveal that we are transgender. Should we?
Bella: I think it is totally up to each individual person. I always will reveal it because I don't want that person to feel like I was lying to them or hiding something. I also don't want to waste my time. Plus there is a huge safety factor we have to think about when we don't tell people that.
Monika: How to recognize whether someone simply wants to have sex with a trans girl rather than to enter into a serious relationship?
Bella: I think it all depends on what you do together, are you going on dates, have you met their friends, do they want to come to social settings with you. If they just want to hide away at their place or yours and call you at 10 pm or 2 am to hang out. I think that's a dead giveaway that they only want you for sex.

Courtesy of Bella Joie.

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 American society? Are we just scratching the surface or the change is really happening?
Bella: I truly think all the progress we have made as a society is huge, I do think change is really happening. At the same time, I think we are scratching the surface with the fact it's not necessarily completely normal for society to see trans women in all of those careers. In my opinion, once transgender women are just seen as women that's when the true change is happening.
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?
Bella: It breaks my heart when some women have to go through that. I have been very blessed through my entire transition to have a supportive group of people around me. I didn't lose any friends or family during this time. I think if anything I became more enjoyable to be around due to the fact I was genuinely happy in comparison to before! 
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 …
Bella: I don't think not passing is a syndrome, everyone's body is built differently and it can be harder for others to pass. I think even if you aren't 100% passable you are still so much happier than you were before pre-transition.

Courtesy of Bella Joie.

I do believe cosmetic surgery is a huge part of transitioning, I have had my fair share and I always support women getting it if it's what's going to make them happy!
Monika: Yes, I remember mine. I kept asking myself whether I chose the right surgeon. And probably we always discover this only after the operation ...
Bella: I can imagine that happens to a lot of girls! I feel super blessed I never have thought that! I really enjoyed my surgeon.
Monika: And the most tricky part is that although we are shown some visualizations of how we will look after the operation the reality is often very different.
Bella: Agreed I mean it depends on the surgery for sure! It's just important to go in with realistic expectations. Sometimes things are a bit different than expected, I would hope people would be happier with the results than what it was pre-surgery.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the results of the hormone therapy?
Bella: I am for sure satisfied with the results. I truthfully have seen so many changes in my body and wouldn't have it any other way. There are for sure hard spots emotionally and mentally but in the end, it is all worth it. 
Monika: In one of your videos, you touch upon the question of transgender bottom surgery (SRS), providing many reasons in its favor but also against it.
Bella: I personally think anyone can do anything they desire with their body, I think it is super important to think about all the pros and cons before doing something so serious to your body. Also knowing you don't need to have bottom surgery or certain genitalia to be a woman.

Courtesy of Bella Joie.

Monika: Many trans women throw out their pre-transition photos once their transition is over. They want to forget about how they looked like. You are different ...
Bella: Yes I am, I think sometimes people want to leave that in the past, which I understand but that was me, who I am today is because of that little boy. When I look at those pictures it feels like I'm looking at someone else but it gives me such a sense of accomplishment for how far I have come.
Monika: Your vlog is full of fashion tips. What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion brands, colors, or trends?
Bella: I love making fashion videos! Typically I wear a lot of athleisure clothing for my day-to-day, when I go out I enjoy wearing skirts and dresses of course. I typically like cheaper brands for clothing like Brandy Melville, forever 21, H&M, and boohoo. Color-wise I love neutrals black, white, nudes, etc. Things that are super universal.
Monika: Do you often change your hairstyles and experiment with make-up?
Bella: Yes I am always changing my look, I think it's always good to experiment. See what works and what doesn't work for you! It's always so fun.
Monika: Have you ever thought about taking part in a beauty pageant for trans women? 
Bella: No I haven't thought of that, truly I didn't really know that those were a thing. I'll have to educate myself on that!
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Bella: I think everyone desires love, and it's necessary for life, maybe it's romantic and sometimes not. For trans women, it can be significantly more difficult than cis men or women, but everyone does have their struggles.
It's super important to love your self and not seek validation from partners throughout your life. I am super lucky to have found a man that is very open-minded and supportive, we have a great romantic relationship. I also have amazing friends and family around me that I have a deep love for.

Monika: So can you say that you are a happy woman now?
Bella: Yes, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life!
Monika: Are you working on any new project now?
Bella: Currently I am not, just trying to make good content for my YouTube channel.
Monika: What would you recommend to all trans girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Bella: You are not alone, so many other women feel the same way. I think getting information and watching other trans girls is truly empowering and a very comforting feeling.
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 transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Would you agree?
Bella: I agree, I think that surgeries are just the beginning of so much, you have so much to live for, and getting procedures are just a milestone in your whole transition.
I also think it can be difficult because so many trans people are at many different stages of their lives and if you are "behind", you can feel inadequate but you have to remember it is your journey, your story, and your life. You are always enough.
Monika: Bella, thank you for this interview and fantastic vlog!
Bella: Thank you, I am honored to be a part of your blog!
Bella Joie Vlog on YouTube.

All the photos: courtesy of Bella Joie.
© 2020 - Monika Kowalska

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