Tuesday 5 May 2020

Interview with Diane Keinanen

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Diane Keinanen, a Minnesota lady of many talents, RN Vascular Access Specialist. Hello Diane!
Diane: Hello Monika! Thanks for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Diane: Old life dissolved, been left to the past. Now Diane has evolved, loving life at long last!
Monika: You are a nurse but you have an artistic hobby ...
Diane: Creation is my serenity. I love to create in stained glass. I also enjoy woodworking as well. I find great fulfillment in crafting things that will bring happiness to another.
Monika: You are just at the onset of your transition. How are you feeling?
Diane: I just reached my 1 year HRT anniversary on April 1st. (No fooling!) I am feeling happy, and I am so grateful for all of the support I have received from coworkers, friends, and family. Even after a year I still wake up like a child on Christmas morning, so full of excitement and the surreal wonderment of my dream realized!
Monika: I wish I could have transitioned earlier myself. Do you have the same regrets?
Diane: Yes. A few months into my journey I started having those feelings of regret. As a child of the ’80s, it would have been virtually impossible to do what I am doing today. Following that came marriage and the responsibilities of parenting. I spent a lifetime playing the part that society expected of me. Once my children became adults, I came to the realization that perhaps I could possibly pursue my dream.
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?
Diane: The idea of coming out as Transgender was absolutely terrifying to me. As a result, on 2/9/19 I attempted suicide because it seemed like the only solution rather than bring shame, hurt, and embarrassment to all those I hold dear.

Courtesy of Diane Keinanen.

I am extremely happy today but it was at a great cost. I lost my love of a lifetime. I came out to my spouse first. My wife and I had been together since high school. My marriage of 30 plus years was over. It was incredibly painful.
I came out to my children a week prior to coming out to the world. The acceptance and love they showed me that day was so freeing. It was at that moment, a huge weight was lifted.
I came out to the world ... and it was quite a shock to many because I had acted the part so well.
I decided my FB page would be my journal of transition. I wanted to quell the rumors and remove the mystery from my life. The support I have received from friends family and co-workers has been huge to me.
After 28 years of being an RN in Duluth, I am the first long-term employee to transition in the workplace. Once again, the support and love shown to me have been wonderful.
Monika: How was your first day at work as Diane?
Diane: After my suicide attempt I was put on leave for 3 months. In that time I reached out to Trans Plus and got a gender therapist. I began to try to find myself. I experimented with cosmetics, I began to grow out my buzz cut, I pierced my ears, colored my hair. I began to play around with a more androgynous look and when the time came to return to work I looked fairly androgynous leaning towards fem. I went to work like that and slowly and gradually built upon my look. I began HRT. Once I came out to my children and the world I knew it was time to really push forward.
One day we were to have a staff meeting on my day off. That was my opportunity to show work as Diane. I had been living female about 50 percent at that point. I walked into the hospital the full-on Diane that day. Boy did I turn some heads! There was no going back after that. Diane was here to stay and I have not looked back since. Full steam ahead!!!
Monika: When you started the transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
Diane: No, not really, but I was inspired by other Transgender women on Facebook and Instagram. I decided I wanted to inspire as well. 
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will be always judged accordingly. Is there any other way on how to cope with this?
Diane: I live my life one day at a time. I know in my heart that I am Diane always. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be a supermodel. I really just want to fit in and find a comfortable place in society. I do transformation montages on my Facebook page. They really help me to see that magic has changed me greatly in one year.
Monika: You are a very slim woman. Can you share your secret about how you did it?
Diane: I was 195 lbs 2 years ago. The final three months of our life together were miserable. I was angry or crying all the time. I hated myself and loathed the lie I was living more so than ever before. I began to lose weight without trying. I was withering away on both an emotional and physical level. I thought I had cancer but all the tests were negative. It was just my body consuming itself. I dropped to 160 lbs. I call it the anguish diet and I would not recommend it.

Courtesy of Diane Keinanen.

After I started my new life, I decided I wanted this body to last because I actually wanted to live. I began exercising. I changed my lifestyle and gave up alcohol. I did not need it anymore as my new life was and still is the greatest high ever. I do 50 to 60 min Elliptical 3-5 times a week. I cut back on junk food. I meditate and I do HRT enhancing exercises as well.
Monika: Are you happy with the results of HRT?
Diane: I inject Estradiol Valerate every 7 days, and I am on Progesterone plus Spironolactone. It is kind of strange. I mean, I know changes are occurring, but I do not see them as others do. I just see less and less boy in the mirror. Perhaps that is the dysphoria.
I post a transition comparison photo occasionally. I do it not only to inspire others as I was by such posts but to actually see the proof positive of my results. That being said, I know I will never be Miss America. The chance to board that ship sailed years back.
What I hope for is to be able to blend into society as best I can and live a happy and fulfilling life, and THAT, I can honestly say, is truly happening.
Monika: Do you have any trans sisters in your neighborhood? I always found it helpful when I could ask them for some advice or support ...
Diane: I have three sisters here in the Twin Ports that are my best friends. We all are in our late 40s to mid 5Os. We all have similar stories in life and understand each other COMPLETELY. I believe it was divine intervention that brought us to each other and that together we are strong.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Diane: I love fashion. I call myself “the fashionista on a budget”. I love savers and consignment shops. I love to wear all kinds of clothing and all different colors. I post more photos on Instagram and Facebook than a 16-year-old girl!!! See for yourself!
Monika: Would you ever get married as a woman?
Diane: Being a Bond fan, Sean Connery stated he was through with being Bond and would never reprise his role. He was going to retire. One year later, they offered him a very lucrative deal to play Bond one last time and much to his wife’s dismay he accepted. A title had not been decided and Connery’s wife spoke up. Call it “Never Say Never Again”. 
Monika: By the way, who was your favorite Bond girl?
Diane: Caroline Cossey in "For Your Eyes Only". She is transgender, and no one knew it until she was outed later.
Monika: Yes, indeed. She is an icon! I had the honor of interviewing her four years ago. Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Diane: I have been told by quite a few that my style of writing is enjoyable to read on my Facebook page. Since my page is my journal of transition, I have thought about turning it into a book.

Courtesy of Diane Keinanen.

Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Diane: It varies greatly in my opinion, just like everything else. I believe there is a much higher level of acceptance toward Transgender. I think many people have a curiosity about it.
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?
Diane: I agree that the Transgender community is thriving and continuing to do so. This played a large factor in my decision to come out to the world on 2/9/19. Being of mature age, I have been watching the evolution of acceptance toward Transgender people for quite some time. I am certain that I could never have safely come out to the world at a young age (circa the 1980s). I am so happy that the younger generation can be themselves so free today and pursue their dreams as I am finally doing today.
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?
Diane: Duluth MN is a small city compared to some, but we have a wonderful support group. Trans Plus has a large following and meets twice a month. Every summer we have a wonderful pride festival and have an informational booth there, which is well received. Trans Plus is also organizing the first-ever Transgender Pride Festival in Duluth, which is very exciting.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender ladies reading this interview?
Diane: Everyone’s journey is unique. Life is too short to not live your truth. Yes... it has been a long road for me to arrive where I am today, but I am finally on the correct path and living my dream... happily ever after.
Monika: Thank you for sharing your story, Diane, and good luck on your journey!

All the photos: courtesy of Diane Keinanen.
© 2020 - Monika Kowalska

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