Saturday 27 February 2021

Interview with Renae

Monika: Today I am going to interview Renae, an American IT specialist and transgender woman that documents her transition on social media. Hello Renae!
Renae: Hello Monika! It's nice to meet you. I must say your blog is wonderful and it's nice to see so many other women like myself, getting great representation. I know it can be a beacon of hope for so many of us that may still be in the closet.
In addition to Reddit, I share my experience on other social media, including Facebook and Twitter as well.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Renae: Certainly! I am a mother of 4 kids and I have been married to my wife for 9 years. I work in IT in a moderately sized town of about 43,000 people in the Midwest. It's a fairly conservative town but there is a rather progressive area I frequent about 40 minutes away. That is where most of my friends live.

Thursday 25 February 2021

Interview with Willow-Jayne Davies

Monika: Today I am going to introduce to you Willow-Jayne Davies, a British makeup artist, nail technician, and beauty pageant queen from Swansea in Wales. She is Miss Swansea Sparkle 2016-2019 and Miss Voluptuous UK finalist 2020. Hello Willow-Jayne! 
Willow-Jayne: Hello gorgeous! How are you?
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Willow-Jayne: My top three most used words/phrases are: “it is what it is “, “Same to be honest “ and “lovely”. I’m not necessarily saying that my vocabulary is limited, it’s that I don’t need a dictionary to choose from because my top three work in all types of conversation.
Monika: Willow-Jayne is not a common name. Why did you choose it?
Willow-Jayne: When I was around eight I was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation (testicular torsion), and as I was slowly being put under the anesthetic and wheeled to the operating theatre, my mum had said “You’re going to go in as William and come out as Willow“. At that point, it wasn’t a laughing matter, and I thought she was being serious.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Interview with Ashley-Marie Eden

Monika: Today I am meeting Ashley-Marie Eden, an Australian illustrator, writer, musician, engineer, poet, and thinker. Hello Ashley-Marie!
Ashley-Marie: Hi Monika!
Monika: How are you holding up in the crazy pandemic times?
Ashley-Marie: Fairly well all things considered. I work for a fantastic company in the defense and aerospace industry, and in an 'essential services role' so they looked after us very well and made arrangements for us all to work from home over a secure network. 
Personally, at first, I found the sudden change from a busy city office working life to one of almost total isolation quite difficult, especially because I live alone as well, but we adapt and move forward as best we can I guess.
Monika: Ashley-Marie is not a common name. Why did you choose it?
Ashley-Marie: Hmmm, to be honest, I can't really tell you. Everyone just calls me Ash of course but as to why or where it came from I don't recall.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Interview with Nadia

Monika: Today I am going to interview Nadia, an American hairstylist and beauty expert, a former entertainer from Orlando, Florida that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Nadia!
Nadia: Hello, how are you?
Monika: Doing fine. Could you say a few words about yourself?
Nadia: Well I am 44. I’m a services district educator for Ulta Beauty. I started my transition in 2005. So I will celebrate 16 years in April.
Monika: Nadia is a nice name. Why did you choose it?
Nadia: This name was given to me by my drag mother when I was a performer. It was a name I always loved as a kid. I love the movie Nadia based on the life of Nadia Comaneci. 
Monika: Yes, I remember the movie. Nadia Comaneci was a famous Romanian gymnast. Were you good at gymnastics?
Nadia: I was an ok gymnast. I taught myself a lot as a kid. All the things I wanted to do I was told “no” you can’t because that’s for girls. But that was with everything that I liked and wanted to do. I did enjoy watching the Olympics growing up and always hoped and wished I could do all those things that the girls did.

Friday 19 February 2021

Interview with Jasmine Anderson

Monika: Today I am going to host Jasmine Anderson, a qualified hairdresser, part-time model, and social media influencer from Brisbane in Australia. Hello Jasmine!
Jasmine: Hello Monika! Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with you. I applaud you for all the great work you are doing with this blog.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jasmine: Well I’m a 34-year-old transwoman from Australia. I’ve been transitioning for 3 1/2 years medically and have been married to a lovely man for just over 2 years now. I was lucky enough to meet him a month into my transition. I like to live life to the fullest and appreciate every moment I have on this earth. I hope I influence others' lives in a positive light.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Interview with Kimberly Kennedy

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Kimberly Kennedy, an American transgender woman and social media influencer from San Francisco, California. Hello Kimberly! 
Kimberly: Hi there, I'm really surprised and honored that someone would want to interview me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kimberly: I am a 23-year-old transgender woman. I started my transition in my senior year of college. So it's been about 2 years so far.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on social media?
Kimberly: There are many reasons I have been sharing my story on Reddit. First I wanted to share my details on Reddit because I love the thriving communities that exist on the platform. In regards to why I wanted to share my personal story, I really think it's good for trans people, specifically the younger trans kids to see that life can be OK for a trans person in America. I think that many trans people my age were only exposed to the idea of a transgender through trashy daytime TV, like the Jerry Springer show or other things that were posed as more of a "freak show".

Monday 15 February 2021

Interview with Sandra Krogh-Bjerke

Monika: Today I would like to introduce to you Sandra Krogh-Bjerke, a mental trainer and coach from Norway. We are going to touch upon her transition, inspirations, and challenges as a transgender woman. Hello Sandra!
Sandra: Hi Monika! Really excited and grateful to have this opportunity.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Sandra: Just a few words? Oh my, where to start? Haha... I´ll start with my identity which has been the same over my whole life. I am a helping and caring woman that can connect with anyone and find solutions to their problems.
Monika: Sandra is such a lovely name. Why did you choose it?
Sandra: My old name, what someone calls a deadname, was not so different. My name was Sondre when presenting as a man. When I was young, about 13 years old, I was already very aware of me being a girl. I looked for a female name that I could feel comfortable with. At that time the German artist Sandra (Cretu) was very popular and I could really relate to her soft but determined artist personality. Also, Sandra means "the helper/defender of the people'' and that really fits me well. On the inside, I was Sandra from the age of 13, even though I didn't come out before October 1st, 2018 at 41 years old.

Saturday 13 February 2021

Interview with Chelsea Poe

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Chelsea Poe, a Dutch American producer, and director of experimental queer art films, adult movie actress, artist, and trans activist. Hello Chelsea!
Chelsea: Hello Monika!
Monika: You are a woman of many talents. Do you see yourself more as a producer or an actress?
Chelsea: I see myself as a performer who is lucky enough to have the means to produce. The content trade model has really taken hold and the number of gigs that performers usually get is not enough to not produce their own content. I think the industry has shifted much like most of the entertainment industry to being decentralized.
Monika: Are you more Dutch or more American?
Chelsea: I grew up surrounded by Dutch people and Dutch culture growing up in Holland, Michigan, so it makes up a large part of my identity. I feel as I got older and moved to California so much what I assumed were American things were actually Dutch things.
I feel very lucky I was able to travel and work in the Netherlands with other Dutch sex workers where sex work is so normalized compared to the United States. I feel like for so many people being sex workers you have to hide who you are and your culture. I’m very lucky to have been able to come out to my family and have them embrace what I’m doing.
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?
Chelsea: For me, I feel like my gender was something I kind of figured out when I was in my early teens. I was out to my family by the time I was in high school and started taking hormones while still living at home, so I don’t really have that narrative of the loss of friends or family. At this point in my life, I’m 28 and have been out as a trans woman longer than I wasn’t.
I really feel like I was a kid who just didn’t have terms to put to what I was feeling both inside and externally with my body but I don’t think most people cis or trans do at 13. I’ve had the family not understand how to be an ally to me when I was in college but I never really lost family with being trans. My family has issues that have been related to poverty during my adult years, my father passed away while homeless when I was 24 so my gender stuff was kind of the least of my family's issues.

"Part of feminism is about including
marginalized folks, and trans people are for
sure included in that definition."

Monika: How did you explain to your parents that you would like to pursue a career as an adult movie actress?
Chelsea: I came out to my Mom the night before I flew out to San Francisco the first time telling her I was going to shoot feminist porn in California. The reaction was very much in the mindset of the adult industry being one filled with illicit drug use. I actually wrote about it a bit in Coming Out As a Porn Star that Jiz Lee curated.
I always did extreme art since I was in high school like playing in a Norwegian-inspired black metal band and traveling to scummy venues with my hardcore band. I always wanted to do outsider art that pushed what was art and my porn performance is the endpoint of that.
Monika: Do you remember your first movie? How much your career has evolved since then?
Chelsea: My first film was Fucking Mystic. I wrote it with my two best friends Aja Pop and Courtney Trouble shortly after moving to Oakland from Holland, it was the most intensive work I ever put into a project at that point in my life. I can say that film really changed everything in my life and opened so many doors that I could have never imagined. Looking back at it, I have a lot of regret for having William Control on the soundtrack after learning more about what he was doing.
I think how my career changed was people will actually give me the benefit of the doubt that I’ll finish a project compared to before where a lot of people were unaware if I could do something outside of just performing on set.
Monika: Is it possible to make both ends meet with being a transgender adult actress?
Chelsea: I feel like I don’t solely identify as a transgender porn performer. I’m clearly trans but I don’t think that’s the most defining thing about who I am as a performer. I feel like since I got into the industry I wanted to be a BDSM performer. I feel like my porn fits or has more in common with BDSM porn than it does with vanilla trans porn. I feel like now trans women can exist in porn without this giant “TS” title or trans signifier whereas maybe even 5 years again you couldn’t be thought of as any other than a trans performer.
I think trans inclusion should happen more in the industry and I think it might be with the TS genre someday fading out. I believe with making a career cis or trans it's a hard industry to make a living, you need to put a ton of hard work into it, meet the right people and often be lucky even then there’s no promise you’ll have a career. I feel extremely blessed to be still in the industry nearly a decade after getting in as a cam girl when I was 20.

In 'Identity: In & Beyond The Binary' (2015) by Dave Naz.
Source: YouTube.

Monika: I assume that there are many myths about who watches trans porn. Does the industry conduct any analysis in this respect?
Chelsea: I feel like there’s no one kind of people who watch trans porn. I’ve been included on sites like Trenchcoatx or God"s Girls as one of a few trans performers and their audience doesn’t respond any different than they do to a cis woman doing the same thing.
I think inclusion is very important but I’m not really one to think there’s a sexuality difference or porn difference of watching a scene with a cis or trans person. I feel like my performance style and what I would be doing would be the same if I was born with a vagina or not, I probably want some mean femme domme fucking me up.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Chelsea: I have thought about writing a book, I have some concepts, I really want to write in regards to. I feel like it's been such an intense period of 8 years, and it has taken me around the world to many places I never thought I would see. I hope someday I get to share more of that in the future.
Monika: I did an interview with Yasmin Lee six years ago and she said that there is nothing wrong with doing porn but it closes many other doors, as the world wrongfully judges such a behavior. Are you not afraid of this?
Chelsea: I don’t think there were many doors there for me when I was coming out of high school during the recession where unemployment was so high in Michigan. Again as I mentioned earlier my family struggles with poverty so entering the adult industry really was a ticket out rather than closing doors. I don’t believe I had many opportunities being an artist otherwise as a young trans woman who wanted to tour the world with her art.

Chelsea Poe gets Interviewed by QueerPorn.TV.
Available via YouTube.

Monika: Some transgender activists say that trans adult movies create a negative image of the whole transgender community. What would be your answer in this respect?
Chelsea: I think the idea that porn is a negative thing for the trans community is like saying any other genre of film or art is harmful. I think all art should be critiqued but at the same time, we can’t go to a sex-negative place and believe trans women aren’t allowed to be viewed as sexual the same way as cis women. Trans women are women, some women want to make porn, so don’t try to drag those women down for their decisions.
Monika: In one of the interviews for Cosmopolitan, you criticized some companies that do not want to shoot trans women in feminist porn. How do they explain it?
Chelsea: Part of feminism is about including marginalized folks, and trans people are for sure included in that definition. If feminist porn is just skinny white cis folks then what’s really the point of it being feminist?
Monika: Can porn be regarded as art? If yes, how would you draw a line between such art and something that is far from it?
Chelsea: Of course, porn is art. I really am hugely inspired by Andy Warhol and other outsider art like Norwegian Black Metal, performance art, and experimental noise so for me, art is always just whatever you make to put into the world.
Monika: Do you have any trans role models or anyone else that inspire you in your professional career?
Chelsea: The trans women who inspired me the most were Drew Deveaux, Tobi Hill Meyer, and Maya Mayhem. The cis women performers were Stoya, Sasha Grey, and Belladonna. For me, Tobi Hill Meyer showed trans women really can make films themselves than what Sasha Grey was doing on camera related to my own sexual interests and how I wanted to be vocal politically in the industry. I think I’m more inspired by the alt porn wave of the mid-2000s than anything else.
Monika: Chelsea, thank you for this interview.

All the photos: courtesy of Chelsea Poe.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

Thursday 11 February 2021

Interview with Cameron Laventure

Monika: Today I would like to invite you for a meeting with a talented woman who writes and directs her own movies. Cameron Laventure is an independent filmmaker and writer wi­th an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. 
Hello Cameron!
Cameron: Hi, Monika! Thanks for speaking with me today.
Monika: How are you holding up in the pandemic times?
Cameron: Quarantine has been hard, but I’ve been luckier than most. My brother Brandon and I co-write and co-direct all our projects, and fortunately, we’ve been able to shelter at home, building a writing portfolio while we search for paid screenwriting work.
It breaks my heart that so many people in my country, including relatives and dear friends, aren’t so lucky. So many of us are exposed to senseless risk because our government won’t just pay us to stay home. I carry a lot of anger over that. I try to channel it into my art, and into activism when I can.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Interview with Monica Rose

Monika: Today I am meeting Monica Rose, a Canadian make-up and hair artist, and transgender YouTube vlogger. It has been almost 4 years since she launched her Elle Rose vlog where she chronicles the most important moments of her transition. Hello Monica!
Monica: Thank you Monika for the opportunity to interview me and give me a chance to share my story.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Monica: I currently live in Toronto, Canada, and I grew up on Vancouver Island in a small town called Port Alberni. I moved to the "big city" so I could pursue an education. I have, as you know, a background in hair and makeup, and as a hobby, I like playing video games.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on social media?
Monica: I decided to share my transition online because I thought it would be a good opportunity to help other people. I started my transition more than ten years ago when very little information was available for people who wanted to transition and to change a legal name or to update the gender marker on a passport would be very difficult if not impossible. I wanted to be able to share how I was able to do it to help other people as well.

Sunday 7 February 2021

Interview with Kamila

Monika: Today I am taking you on a journey to the East Midlands region of England where I am going to chat with Kamila, an inspirational woman from Poland. Kamila is a transgender activist and successful business support analyst in the British civil service. I am going to chat with her about her experiences of being a transgender woman both in Poland and the UK. Hello Kamila! Dzień dobry!
Kamila: Dzień dobry, Monika! First of all, I would like to thank you for your invitation to take part in this project. I'm humbled by your invitation.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kamila: As previously stated by you, I am originally from Poland. However, I have been living in the United Kingdom since 2005. The whole reasoning behind the move was to transition and become the person I am today. Most of you would be probably aware of Poland’s transphobic approach and lack of LGBTQ+ acceptance.
I am a 34 years old, civil service employee who is bubbly, outspoken, and a little bit glitzy. Like a glitter tornado!

Friday 5 February 2021

Interview with Alexandra Chandler

Monika: Today I am hosting a very special woman. Alexandra Chandler is an American politician, lawyer, and former senior analyst at the Office of the Naval Intelligence. She is also an advocate for equality for LGBT people, especially transgender youth, immigrants, and people of color.
Currently, she holds the position of Policy Advocate at Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization with an urgent mission: to prevent democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government.
In 2018, she took part in the Democratic Party primary, running for election to the U.S. House to represent Massachusetts' 3rd Congressional District. Alexandra is married to Catherine, her high school sweetheart, and they have two children. Hello Alexandra!
Alexandra: Hello Monika! So glad to virtually meet you and those reading, wherever they are and whenever they do! 
Monika: How are you holding up in the pandemic times?
Alexandra: Relatively well, thank you. The truth is, we (speaking of our family) are very fortunate. My wife and I both have flexible (if intense this year!) and secure jobs that allow us to work from home and with some ability to reshuffle our hours around. We are both in good health with no major risk factors for COVID, as are our kids.
Yet that said, it is hard, as it is for all of us. There are so many moments where I feel I cannot be fully present as a mom or as a professional, because even with an amazing employer, there are times when I have to do both, with the addition of trying to be a halfway decent part-time elementary school teacher and IT support for my son doing remote school. I am also such an extroverted person, and I miss the in-person interaction with friends, I miss seeing bands in concert and dancing, I miss eating in restaurants.

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Interview with Damnlera

Monika: Today I am going to interview Damnlera, a young trans girl, digital illustrator, and social media influencer from Russia. Hello Lera!
Lera: Hello Monika! Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Lera: I’m a transgender woman. I transitioned 11 years ago. I work as a digital illustrator. In addition, I post on my YouTube channel and Makeup Art Instagram.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Lera: The idea of making someone become more confident about themselves is very much inspiring for me. I want to inspire people of any age, gender, or nationality to be what they really are and be proud of it. We are all beautiful and we are all talented, so making people feel great about themselves is what I really want to do.

Monday 1 February 2021

Interview with Kara Norwood

Monika: Today’s interview will be with Kara Norwood, an American transgender activist that documents her transition on Hello Kara!
Kara: Hello Monika. It is my pleasure to meet you and I look forward to this interview and where it takes us.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kara: I will do my best to keep it brief. I am a multifaceted woman with a very dynamic background. In my life I have been a tattoo artist, soldier, physics research assistant, motorcycle enthusiast, speed demon, IT Director, entrepreneur a few times over, a son and a daughter, a father as well as a mother.
Now most recently I have become the godmother to a close friend's daughter. I do have plans for more things in the future presuming I live long enough. I think a life span of 250 years would do just fine.

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