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.
Monika: You have a beautiful name. Why did you choose it?
Jasmine: I have always loved the name Jasmine. When I was picking my name I wanted something exotic to match my looks but something with traditional spelling and easy to say and also abbreviate. I usually get Jasmine, Jazz, Jazzie depending on the person. India Rose are my middle names. Prior to the transition I had two middle names and wanted to keep that family tradition, so India is an ode to my ancestry and Rose because I wanted a floral element to my name.

"When I was picking my name I wanted
something exotic to match my looks but
something with traditional spelling and easy
to say and also abbreviate."

Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Jasmine: I think to affect positive change in society that it’s important to live an authentic life and broadcast that to the world. Yes, I’m transgender but that’s not the only defining quality I have and I wanted to show that we live lives no different from other people. If we want to be treated as though we belong then why not educate the public about the day-to-day lives of transgender people. Our triumphs, successes, difficulties, the good, the bad, and the ugly. That’s being in control of your own destiny.
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?
Jasmine: Growing up I always considered my family to be non-judgmental. You treat people with respect regardless of their quirks, abilities, etc. I thought that it would bring my mum and I closer together, be able to be with the daughter she desperately wanted but never had but unfortunately it’s the opposite. My family are very supportive on the surface but they don’t always agree that we deserve everything that cis people do. There were issues when I got married and whether the family would turn up and be supportive.
On the job front, I had to wait until I was 30 and owned my own business to feel comfortable enough to make the decision to transition. I risked my business and my own personal success in my career to live an authentic life. Luckily for the most part it’s paid off. People want me to do their hair because I’m good at my job and my gender identity doesn’t inhibit that. They just say how much happier I am within myself. The hardest thing is sacrificing everything and everyone you know for a chance of a happier and healthier life. But the rewards are great.
Monika: I love going to my hairdresser. I can always relax and always chat with other ladies. Is it the part of the job that you like as well?
Jasmine: I like being creative and bringing joy to others. Making someone look and more importantly feel beautiful is extremely rewarding. Being a hairdresser is an important job, we listen to the positive and negative times in everyone’s lives. We offer counsel, we are a shoulder to cry on and an impartial point of view. We offer a great service to the world. 
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Jasmine: I’m one of the fortunate ones where hormone treatment works remarkably well for. I noticed change within myself both physically and emotionally within the first month of taking the hormones. Hormones have definitely feminized my appearance, which also helps with my mindset. I can safely say hormone treatment saved my life.

"Transition is a journey and you can tailor that journey to your own
circumstance. If you are not ready to make the big decisions
that are OK, you will know when the best time for that is."

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?
Jasmine: I think it’s part of the human condition to be critical of ourselves where our appearance is concerned. All women are self-critical and would love to change things about themselves, part of that is the images we see all over social media and magazines. My best advice is to do what’s best for you and not to compare yourself to someone else going through the transition.
We share transition in common but we all have different stories, different desired outcomes, and different comfort levels. If you want to look “passable” then by all means do whatever you can to achieve that goal but those of you who couldn’t care about fitting in and rather walk to their own tune don’t change and power to you. Be strong, be brave but ultimately be yourself.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Jasmine: Laverne Cox, Hannah & Jake Graf, Laith Ashley. But in reality, we all need to be role models for the next generations of trans people. Show them that we can live happy fulfilled lives.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Jasmine: The first time I met a trans person I wanted to hear their story and the more I listened the more it resonated with my journey and who I am as a person. As for trans people on TV, well to me there isn’t enough representation of transgender people on any social media outlet. It would be great to see more trans actors, models, media presenters on TV. It would also be beneficial to show trans characters on TV shows. Show that we are all individuals and our experiences aren’t all the same.

"We share transition in common but we all
have different stories, different desired
outcomes and different comfort levels."

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Jasmine: We are quite lucky here in Australia, we generally have easy access to medical care especially if you know where to look for trans services. I can’t speak for everyone but personally I blend into society and I’ve had next to no bad experiences with people. I don’t often cope with abuse or intolerance, which has made my transition much easier to fully accept.
There are obviously still steps that could be taken to make life easier for trans people, and it’s my hope that being so open and honest about my situation will help others with the strength to be themselves. For the most part, I’m seen as the woman I am and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Jasmine: Yes I absolutely love fashion and experimenting with new looks. I like to wear playsuits and jumpsuits and knee-length dresses during the day. I also like Maxxi Dresses and I love formal attire and ball gowns. Basically, anything that shows off my curves is what I like to wear. I wear a lot of black or bright colors and I also like patterns and interesting textures with clothing. I’m fortunate I get to try all kinds of fashion with my modeling, which has helped my style evolve with time.
Monika: Do you experiment with your makeup or hairstyles?
Jasmine: When I was an apprentice I used to have a different hair color every other week and hairstyles ranging from short crops, mow hawks, mullets, bobs, long, layered, fringes, and bangs even hair extensions. The older I’ve become the more I’ve decided to embrace what I was given. I like my hair long and my hair has been a natural dark color for 5 years. 
I sometimes like to keep my hair straight, sometimes curly, and sometimes a beachy wave. I also like a bun or topknot look on days where I need to wash my hair or warm weather. As for makeup well depending on the occasion I like to try new looks from bold evening looks, to grunge with lots of eyeliner, to natural beachy dewy skin looks, to disco and glitter. It all depends on my mood and how much I want to express it.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Jasmine: I’m a girl, we love compliments lol. Still getting used to accepting compliments, prior to transition it barely happened and if it did I didn’t believe it much. It’s taken me some work on myself to realize compliments are a good thing. It shows that people appreciate and notice the effort you are making and it makes me feel good about myself.

"Prior to transition, I was always trying to find
that perfect love, someone who loved me for
me but I had no love for myself."

Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Jasmine: I was lucky enough to own my business so I never had to interview for my position but I imagine it would come with its own challenges. I imagine I’d feel extremely anxious whether I was going to be treated appropriately and professionally without bias. 
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Jasmine: Be strong and be uniquely you. By showing your own personal strength you are proving your ability to do your job, we all have skills that we’ve picked up through transition that we can adapt to the workplace as well. Don’t feel insecure, be proud of who you are, the more comfortable you are in the situation the more others around you will embrace you.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Jasmine: I am involved with two trans support pages, one of which I set up. My hope is that we can make positive changes in people's lives and help them through difficult situations and for them to know they are not alone. I have many gay and lesbian friends also and go to many social events and celebrations, so I’m very much involved in the life of the LGBTQ community even though I’m in a heterosexual relationship.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Jasmine: Love has always been very important to me however the idea has evolved with my transition. Prior to transition, I was always trying to find that perfect love, someone who loved me for me but I had no love for myself. I vowed when I began the transition that I was my own number 1 priority. I would stop looking for love and focus on learning to love myself. Once I did that I was surprised by how many people admitted to loving me or wanted to love me and I’m not talking about superficial sex stuff I’m talking about a deep bond and concern for my well-being and what I mean to them. To this day I believe love is very important to me as is passion and perseverance.
Monika: Being a bride was the fulfillment of your dreams? What did you feel looking at the mirror and seeing a beautiful woman in the wedding gown?
Jasmine: I think every little girl dreams of her wedding day, and for me, I never thought it would come, so imagine my shock when my now husband proposed to me. I suddenly had to find a wedding dress that would accommodate my ever-changing body, which is no easy feat. I knew I wanted a lace dress, something fitted, simple and elegant, and not over the top. 
I decided, in the end, to have my dress made, my husband took my measurements and I was extremely nervous it would arrive and be completely wrong but it ended up fitting like a glove. That morning when I stood in front of the mirror with my hair and makeup done, in a beautiful ivory white dress (I don’t usually wear white) with my bouquet and a flower crown made with bright Australian native flowers; I felt truly beautiful. The best I would ever look in my life. I felt like a Princess and I didn’t want the day to end. I wore that dress until 11pm that night never wanting to change.

"The hardest thing is sacrificing everything and
everyone you know for a chance of a happier and
healthier life. But the rewards are great."

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Jasmine: One of my close friends is an author and she has taken to writing her story. I have been reading about her life, the struggles, and the triumphs. Whenever I talk openly about my situation whether it’s with friends, clients/customers, etc. they always say to me that my story would make a fantastic read. I would love to compile these stories and to be able to share them with the world over and over again. I think there’s something quite cleansing about that.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Jasmine: Well I’m hoping to have completed my gender affirmation surgery. I’d love to be more involved within education around trans people or a career in the public eye that highlights the strength of trans people. Be a role model to the next generations and live a life where I’m free to feel fully content and happy with myself. 
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Jasmine: Transition is a journey and you can tailor that journey to your own circumstance. If you are not ready to make the big decisions that are OK, you will know when the best time for that is. If you have great inner strength and a sense of self the rest will come more easily. Start with small changes until you build up your confidence.
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. Do you agree with this?
Jasmine: Absolutely. It’s important to dream big and surgery is only one of those milestones and for some people may never be the desired outcome. Life is short so make the most out of every situation and what better way than making your every dream come true. There’s nothing we can’t do.
Monika: Jasmine, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Jasmine: Thanks for your time Monika! Thank you for sharing my thoughts and I hope that some of what I said can be adapted to others’ lives. It’s important to share our stories with the world. What better way than with this blog.

All the photos: courtesy of Jasmine Anderson.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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