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!
Monika: How are you holding up in the crazy pandemic times?
Kamila: I am trying to remain focused and positive. Here in the UK, the virus was really unkind and affected so many people, taking so many lives. It's heartbreaking. Many of my friends were badly affected. Although times are hard I believe soon we will be able to tackle this pandemic and hopefully return to normality.

"I started HRT in 2008 and I couldn't be
happier. I understand that medical
transition is not an option for many but
I cannot praise it enough."

Monika: Did you transition before coming to the UK?
Kamila: No, I did not. I tried. As soon as I reached 18 years of age, I did seek help from a gender specialist back in Poland but that didn't work out. The easiest route for me was to move and transition here in the UK.
Monika: I interviewed some British trans girls before and some of them complained about long waiting lists and the quality of services offered by the National Health Service to the trans community. I am curious about your opinion about it.
Kamila: This is correct and accurate. But it's also worth mentioning even though we have to manage long waiting lists - these critical services are still available. We are very lucky indeed to have a designated NHS team to look after us. There are many countries where support is next to zero.
Monika: Do you know any other Polish transgender girls that came to the UK to transition? 
Kamila: Sure I do. Many, like myself, are deciding to move and transition here.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Kamila: I am trying to be. I am definitely supportive but my heart still belongs to Poland and I am trying to uplift people’s spirits there. I am a moderator of one of Poland's biggest Transgender Support forum We have over 11 thousand users and I am heavily involved in making this a safe place for any transgender person in Poland.
I also work on a few other collaborations that I'm not allowed to discuss just yet. All I'm going to say is watch my Instagram for updates!
Monika: You are very critical of the situation of the transgender community in Poland and general transphobic sentiments in society. What are the main challenges that a trans girl has to face there?
Kamila: Prejudice. Luck of help and support from the Polish government and poor education on what it actually means 'being transgender'. We are being fetishized and excluded from the community. In many cases, people are disowned by families. Transition is expensive and many people don't have money to achieve it. Socially it's also still taboo and demonizing our community by the conservative catholic government doesn't help.
We are living in the 21st century and Polish President Mr. Duda publicly calls us an ideology - not a human being. This is extremely difficult and there's not a chance I could express in few sentences challenges the transgender community is facing in Poland. Very upsetting. I miss my country and friends and (most) family but as things stand right now I cannot imagine living there.

"My transition and passing went all very
smoothly really. I would say one step at a time."

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?
Kamila: I was petrified and scared. Looking back now I honestly don't know how I managed to do it. Certainly, I didn't expect things to turn out the way they have. The hardest for me was dealing with my family. I knew most wouldn't understand and I have lost many people who I thought loved me.
Monika: I know it myself. Our transition is always a test for love and friendship. If someone loves or likes me as a man, why should they stop doing this when I am a woman? I noticed some photos with your friends, mostly girls. Are they your school friends? Did you manage to keep their friendship?
Kamila: I'm going to surprise you here! In fact yes! My support network still includes a fair few of my childhood/ school friends. I'm totally chuffed about it that our friendship not only survived my gender transition but also a distance.
Monika: Kamila (Camilla) is a nice name. How did you choose it?
Kamila: Full credit to my amazing mother. She is behind this decision. She picked this name for me and stood by my side thick and thin all the way. She's my rock and I'm blessed to be called her daughter.
Monika: Was your mother surprised by your transition?
Kamila: She watched all of it happening over the years. I doubt she was surprised, maybe in a positive way? I'm still growing as a person and definitely have few tricks behind my sleeve left! I think there is still a lot of room left to surprise her and others, of course!
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?
Kamila: My transition and passing went all very smoothly really. I would say one step at a time. There are plenty of non-invasive procedures that can help with that too. In the end, it's not what others expect of you to be or look like but what you feel is right for you. Beauty comes within.
My advice is: keep your head high and crack on! Self-love and confidence are the most important. No procedures will help you better than this.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Kamila: Absolutely! Best decision of my life. I started HRT in 2008 and I couldn't be happier. I understand that medical transition is not an option for many but I cannot praise it enough. It's amazing. Truly.

"I was petrified and scared.
Looking back now I honestly do
not know how I managed to do it."

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Kamila: Of course! Dana International! She won the Eurovision song contest in 1998 and by doing so she made me realize who I am and what I want.
Monika: Was she the first transgender woman that you ever saw on TV? Do you remember when you met a transgender woman in person for the first time?
Kamila: She was, indeed. I do remember, sure! We are still good friends. LOL
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Kamila: I am inspired by Katie Price mixed with Kim.K. I love very feminine styles. I'm not really into labels. As long as it's sexy and sparkly! You have to maximize your assets if you know what I mean.
Monika: Oh yes, I do. :) By the way, do you often experiment with your makeup?
Kamila: I'm addicted to it! It gives me power and enjoyment. I tend to keep up with all the trends. Currently, I can't get enough of big lashes and nude lipsticks!
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Kamila: I think every woman likes it. It's nice being appreciated. And for us, transgender females, we take extra pride in our appearance.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Kamila: Love is the only treasure we can have in our lives. Life without it would be miserable. That's why once you have it, do keep hold of it as it's so precious! Trans or not - everyone deserves it. It's important to me to have this bond and connection with someone. Humans are not designed to live by themselves. Although I can't complain about romantic interest around me I am still waiting for my Prince Charming!
Monika: Are you open about being transgender when you are on a date?
Kamila: In day-to-day life, I tend to keep my transgender status to myself. At the end of the day, it's no one's business really. However, when it comes to dating, I feel I have to be open about it. You can't expect to build anything on cracked foundations, hence why I always disclose this to my dates.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Kamila: Totally! It would put ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ to shame! Who knows what life holds! I'm at this stage of my life where nothing seems impossible. If I strike a book deal, you will be the first one to know! And this is a promise!
Monika: Fingers crossed! What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Kamila: Right now I'm focusing on my job. This is my main priority. After two years of trying Queen Camilla is seating in the British civil service! Who would think that? I want to be successful and progress in what I'm doing. I'm planning on purchasing my first property here in the UK in one of the coastal towns (I absolutely adore the seaside).

"Next 5-7 years? To be the best version
of myself. To be happy. I hope for a
romance, dog, and good company and
of course to be healthy!"

Next 5-7 years? To be the best version of myself. To be happy. Everything else falls in the place then. I hope for a romance, dog, and good company and of course to be healthy! So far life has been very kind to me and expecting more seems greedy.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Kamila: Don't let anyone EVER dull your sparkle! Be bold, be brave, and be outgoing. We only get one chance in life, so we might as well have a blast! Nothing in this world matters more than being at peace with yourself.
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?
Kamila: Hell yes! Being transgender does not justify you as a person. Don't let it stop your dreams! Go better, harder, stronger. Transition is only beginning. What are you going to do next? Be this girl or boy you always wanted to be and aim high! Possibilities are endless. Never give up!
Monika: Kamila, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Kamila: Monika! You are an absolute Babe. I am very touched by your choosing me to appear on your blog. It's been such a pleasure talking to you. Keep sparkling my Angel. All the best!

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

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