Friday 25 December 2020

Interview with Lindsey

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Lindsey, an American transgender woman that documents her transition on Instagram and Hello Lindsey!
Lindsey: Hi Monika! As someone who has read your blog, it is an honor to do this interview with you!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Lindsey: I am a 35-year-old intersex and transgender woman. I have a wife and two amazing kids, have started several businesses and brands, I model and I am an advocate for LGBT+ rights whenever I can be. I started transitioning when I was 32.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on social media?
Lindsey: One of the reasons for starting my page(s) was to add one more voice to the diversity of the LGBTQIA community. Some members of the trans community are non-binary, some fully transition while others don’t, and some may even be intersex. I happen to be intersex and trans. Being intersex and trans doesn’t define who I am, but they are small pieces of the overall puzzle and each has caused life experiences that have shaped me as a person.
The thing I love the most about the trans community, and the entire LGBT+ community, is that every person is valid and authentic. It doesn’t matter how far along you are, or whether you are even certain about who you are yet. The most important thing is that YOU are important.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your Reddit readers? What do they ask for? 
Lindsey: Over the last several years, I've gotten thousands of questions. Most of the time, they ask for advice. Things like HRT regimen, how I was able to lose weight, how to save marriages, etc.
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered? :)
Lindsey: Because I transitioned and I also lost so much weight (I started at 326 lbs), occasionally I will get readers who accuse me of faking my pictures or taking a before picture that wasn't really me. It is really strange trying to convince someone that you are really you. I usually ignore those, but every once in a while I will respond.
Monika: So let's give our readers some tips about diet. I am curious as well.
Lindsey: I initially weighed 326 lbs, and I knew my diet needed to change and I had a lot of self-destructive habits. I started doing a lot of cardio and eating a very strict keto diet. I also kept increasing my cardio and even ran a half marathon! At the end of the first year, I had lost almost 100 lbs. Today, I am down over 160 lbs from that initial starting weight.
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we 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?
Lindsey: For the last several years, I was pretty much an internet lurker. I posted occasionally to Reddit, but I never really talked about my story. After all, who was I to think my story was all that important? I had convinced myself my story wasn’t worth sharing. Mainly because of the difficulties I had experienced. There wasn't really one difficult thing about transitioning, it was all difficult. But, I had to do it to survive. I was disowned by many in my family, intentionally outed in public, sexually harassed at work, intentionally deadnamed, and told I was going to hell (quite a bit).

"Being intersex and trans doesn’t define who I am, but
they are small pieces of the overall puzzle and each
has caused life experiences that have shaped me
as a person."

My wife is essentially one of the only family members I have that stuck with me, she is an amazing woman. After receiving so many messages, I decided to be more public about my story and transition to help others going through the same thing.
Monika: How did you save your marriage? Was your wife surprised about your transition? 
Lindsey: My wife always knew that I struggled with issues surrounding my gender. I think for a while we were both in denial about how serious it was. So, it wasn’t a complete surprise, but it definitely was a struggle we had to face together. We went to a lot of therapy sessions and that definitely helped as well.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Lindsey: I have been extremely satisfied with the effects of my treatment. Sometimes, my levels have a tendency to be out of whack, but by keeping a close eye on it, I am able to maintain my levels and appropriate dosages.
Monika: You look very feminine. Are you under a special hormone regimen?
Lindsey: Thank you! I’m not taking anything special, but I think it is possible that being intersex helped a bit in my transition.
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Lindsey: There is absolutely a lot of pressure to pass. I personally have had one surgery (breast augmentation) to help balance my taller frame. I was fortunate that by cleaning up my diet and taking care of myself I was able to get to where I was happy.
I still have insecurities, but I remind myself that most people have some sort of insecurity in the way they look or their appearance. I also believe that in those early months and years, that the more confident I became in who I was, the less I was bothered by passing or non-passing. 
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Lindsey: There were definitely a lot of models over the years. I remember one specifically, and that was Breanna Burke. I remember watching her YouTube series she had when I was still trying to figure out how to cope with my dysphoria. I remember admiring how brave she was for sharing her story so openly, and how I felt like I could never do something like that. It was through the countless stories and such individuals that I could finally find the strength to do the same. Sharing my story is my way of trying to "pay it forward" as much as I can. 
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Lindsey: We've definitely seen great progress over the past 10 years. I am fortunate for so many that came before me to fight for equality, healthcare, and basic human dignity. While the situation has improved, the past U.S. administration set us back quite a bit. I am optimistic we will see more great progress in the next several years.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Lindsey: I absolutely love fashion. I work in a more corporate setting so I constantly mix up what I am wearing between professional skirts, blouses to suits, and pants. I absolutely love the variety of options!
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Lindsey: I do! It was for a job I was super overqualified for, but I had not yet regained my confidence so I was willing to take any job I could find. I was so nervous and I am sure they could sense it. Fortunately, I didn’t get it, and just a couple of months later landed an amazing job I am still at.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment? Is it worth mentioning that we are transgender?
Lindsey: My biggest piece of advice would be to be confident in your abilities. The fact that you transitioned didn’t change your skillset. I personally did not mention it to potential employers in the early stages, with the exception of anyone who ran background checks since I knew my old name could pop up. If an issue about inclusion, diversity, or equity came up, I probably would have brought it up at that time.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Lindsey: I personally support them and any transgender woman's right to compete in any competition they choose, but would also love to see them not be separated like that. For example, a beauty pageant for women should feature all women regardless if you are cisgender.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Lindsey: I enjoy compliments, I know they can be surface level and not the most important thing in life, but it does provide a sense of validation that you have made so much progress. It is a bit of recognition for the hard work many of us have to go through to be our true selves.

"I enjoy compliments, I know they can be surface
level and not the most important thing in life, but
it does provide a sense of validation that you
have made so much progress."

Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Lindsey: Unfortunately I live in a very conservative part of the state, but I have been connected to some different LGBT groups in other cities, etc. I try to meet new people where I live all the time.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Lindsey: Love is so important and the people I love mean everything to me. I wish there was more love in the world. If we were able to replace some of the hate we see in our society with love, we would all be in such a better place.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Lindsey: That is a really amazing idea! I had a therapist who encouraged me to write down my story in a journal and it was very therapeutic. Maybe one day I will give it a try! 
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Lindsey: My next step is to continue to get more connected to the community and continue to become more confident. In 5-7 years, I would love to hold a leadership role in my organization and continue to work and advocate for LGBT equity and inclusion.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Lindsey: My recommendation is to try and find anyone you can talk to. A therapist, a trusted friend or family member, a support group, etc. This will allow you to sort out your feelings in a more open and honest way and will hopefully help some of the fears subside.
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?
Lindsey: I absolutely agree. Finally transitioning is like having a brand new outlook on life. It's almost as if things you've done so many times before starting all over again. Once you realize you are not under the same constraints you once were, it opens your imagination to all of the possibilities and dreams you may want to achieve.
Monika: Lindsey, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Lindsey: It was my pleasure! Thank you for your continued work and support of the community!

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

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