Wednesday 31 March 2021

Interview with Adriana Roberts

Monika: Today I am going to interview Adriana Roberts, an American performer, DJ, event producer, and model. She is the founder and Queen Mother of Bootie Mashup, a nightlife and music brand dedicated to the art form of the pop mashup, producing theme parties and live streams. Hello Adriana!
Adriana: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Adriana: Sassy, smart, and sexy. There, that’s a few.
Monika: Adriana is a nice name. Why did you choose it?
Adriana: How do you know I wasn’t born with it? Actually, the name is a variation of a character’s name from the 1981 cult film “Liquid Sky.” 
Monika: I always wanted to have dreadlocks like you. How long have you been wearing them?
Adriana: After Burning Man 2003, my hair was already dreading, from all the dust storms that year out in the desert. Rather than deal with untangling it, my stylist suggested I just go all the way with it (but with better salon care, of course). And the rest is history. I’ve had dreadlocks ever since.

Monday 29 March 2021

Interview with Eva Echo

Monika: Today I am going to take you for a journey to the city of Birmingham, in the West Midlands, England, where I am meeting Eva Echo, an inspirational lady that loves tattoos. Eva is a transactivist and Ambassador of the London Transgender Clinic. Hello Eva!
Eva: Hi, it’s lovely to meet you!!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Eva: I’m an activist, blogger, and spokesperson based in Birmingham, UK. I’m a brand Ambassador for London Transgender Clinic, an activist and trans spokesperson for the charity Gendered Intelligence and I also sit on the Crown Prosecution Service’s panel for hate crime.
Monika: Why did you choose Eva for your name?
Eva: My name comes from my friends’ band name, Eva Plays Dead. Prior to coming out and transitioning, they had some instruments stolen from their band van. I set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for replacements and I said that I’d legally include Eva as part of my name if we hit the target. We did hit the target and I did change my name. When I subsequently transitioned, I chose to keep Eva as my first name.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Interview with Jamie Berthon

Monika: Today I am going to host Jamie Berthon, an Australian model, videographer, future personal trainer, social media influencer, and transgender woman that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Jamie!
Jamie: Hey Monika, I'm hoping to explore myself through this as much as anyone else wants to listen.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Jamie: Well, I'm Jamie and I am trying to kick start my career as a model, and learning about fitness to eventually become a personal trainer along with it. I started hormones in January of 2019 and properly came out in January of 2020. Along with those huge moments for me, I've been enjoying life to its fullest.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Jamie: I have had a lot of great friends over the Internet that I have helped in certain aspects, mostly regarding fitness. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to hopefully inspire other trans men and women to grow as themselves. That's the main reason I'm studying to become a personal trainer too, to help trans people be comfortable in the body they have, as I have found a lot of joy in fitness myself.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Interview with Nguyễn Hoàng Trúc Quân

Monika: Today I would like to take you to Vietnam where one of our sisters lives. Nguyễn Hoàng Trúc Quân is a trans enthusiast, make-up artist, and support lady at shared services center from Ho Chi Minh City. Trúc Quân was a co-founder of Trans Women Vietnam, an organization that supports the local transgender community, and now she is a moderator for another trans group called Vietnamese Trans Girl's Community, so she is the best person to share some interesting stories about our trans sisters from Vietnam. Hello Trúc Quân!
Trúc Quân: Hello there! Thank you for the introduction. Well, first I have to say that I am honored to be a part of this worldwide blog and to present the life of a Vietnamese trans sister like myself.
Monika: Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Trúc Quân: My name is Trúc Quân - you can call me Quinn, as it sounds similar to Quân. I am a 21-year-old transgirl living in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh city. I am currently working as a customer care office lady. While I did learn to be a professional makeup artist, I do not do make-up very often, only when other people request me to. (PS: If any foreign ladies out there in Ho Chi Minh city want some make-up and probably a meeting with me, just give me a shout-out, I would love to meet you in person.)

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Interview with Lennie Blockmans

Monika: Today I am going to host Lennie Blockmans, a young model and social media influencer from Antwerp in Belgium. Hello Lennie!
Lennie: Hello Monika! Thank you so much for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Lennie: My name is Len, but most people call me Lennie. I'm 22 years old and I live in Antwerp where I study psychology. My interests are fashion, art, music, pop culture, and things like that. I came out as gay at 15 and when I was 17 I came out as trans. I completed my medical transition last year and I'm happier than ever.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via Instagram?
Lennie: I've always been very open and honest about everything regarding my transition. I use Instagram as a visual diary where I document my life, just like most people. But when I started my transition I figured it would be nice to have a timeline with pictures from start to finish and I'm very happy I did that.

Sunday 21 March 2021

Interview with Hannah Herr

Monika: Today I am going to host Hannah Herr, a German social media influencer and transgender woman that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Hannah! 
Hannah: Hi Monika! Thanks for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Hannah: I'm 30 years old, and I studied biology and English before I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I then tried myself as an optometrist for a few years until my condition got worse and had to quit my job as well. Now I am writing a blog on Instagram about being transgender while having a chronic illness, my life with my partner, my cat and whatever comes to my mind really. It has been a great outlet for me.
Monika: Hannah is a nice name. How did you choose it?
Hannah: I was set on the name Linda for the longest time, but a friend pressed me for an alternative and I spontaneously came up with Hannah. He loved it and it instantly grew on me, because it was similar to my old name phonetically, but different enough to not make an instant connection to the dead name. It is also a palindrome and I could keep my initials, the perfect name!

Friday 19 March 2021

Interview with Daniella Schofield

Monika: Today I am going to interview Daniella Schofield, a British beauty expert and Avon representative from Blackpool in the United Kingdom. In 2019, Daniella joined Avon, a direct sales company in beauty, household, and personal care categories, which changed her life. So we are going to touch upon the Avon story and her personal challenges related to her transition. Hello Daniella!
Daniella: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Daniella: Hi! My name is Daniella Schofield, I started my transition in 2016 when I was 35, and at the time I was managing services in health and social care. In 2018 my mother's partner and carer suddenly passed away, which totally devastated me. My life changed from that day. I left my job and started caring for my mother at home, and times became very hard, hard emotionally, and even harder financially, as I needed money.
I had no idea what I was going to do, so I joined Avon. I saw an advertisement on Facebook and signed up, I had no real expectations, but it was worth a shot, just to feel like I was doing something that gave me an escape, something to focus on. I was really low; little did I know Avon would change my life.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Interview with Destiny Maylas

Monika: Destiny Maylas is an Australian transgender advocate and vlogger of Filipino origin. Her Destiny Maylas vlog on YouTube can boast over 25 thousand subscribers that follow Destiny's recommendations about HRT, MTF transition, transgender life, surgeries, and everything related to being Transgender. Hello Destiny!
Destiny: Hello Monika. Thanks for having me.
Monika: How are you holding up in the crazy pandemic times?
Destiny: Thank you for asking. I am doing okay but I'd say things can be better, you know. I hope you're doing well too.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Destiny: I am a curly Filipina transgender woman of color who is very passionate about my advocacy of safe HRT for Trans Pinays, which is the main focus of my YouTube Channel, where transwomen all around the world who have no choice but to do DIY-HRT can benefit from.

Monday 15 March 2021

Interview with Connie Fleming

Monika: Today I am taking you on a fantastic journey to the world of fashion and glamour, as my guest is a Jamaican-born model and showgirl. Connie Fleming, also known as Connie Girl, started her career as a showgirl in New York City’s clubs in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Her beauty caught the attention of the fashion industry very quickly and she has become an iconic character in modeling, makeup, and clothes design. Some of you may remember the 2012 Candy magazine cover with her photo impersonating Michelle Obama. Hello Connie! 
Connie: Hello Monika. Thanks for having me.
Monika: How are you doing in the pandemic times? Do you have a chance to work normally?
Connie: I’m doing well, and not gonna complain. In the beginning, when the Standard closed, it was a bit nerve-racking but I had a couple art projects I hadn’t time to work on, so I started with them. It then went on from there to a series of tattooed men pencil drawings, a Black Lives Matter. And Black Trans Lives Matter pieces I did for my friend James Gardner’s restaurant Gitano. So as always in my life Art brought me through the bad times.

Saturday 13 March 2021

Interview with Katherine Reilly

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Katherine Reilly, a Greek-American author, teacher, educational blogger, and active contributor to humanitarian efforts. She works at a private school in Athens Greece, teaching English to learners of all ages. As an author, she works for an international publisher and can boast multiple children’s books and novels. Katherine is known for her children's book trilogy “The Adventures of Ben & Friday”, her guidebook “The Road to Femininity: A New Life for a New Woman” (2016), and novel “I Can’t Love You” (2018). She is also a TEDx speaker and trainer, organizing Ted-Ed clubs and using her experience to motivate, inspire and assist students in reaching their true potential. Hello Katherine!
Katherine: Hello Monika, it’s so nice to see you again!
Monika: We have not heard from each other since 2017 when we did our first interview and suddenly you told me that you would like to go stealth and remove any links with your transgender past. It must have been a very dramatic moment in your life.
Katherine: Imagine establishing a career only to be threatened with being fired due to trans identity. At the time, I was employed as a teacher at a private school. My employer told me that if word came out that I was a transgender woman; I would be out of a job. I had grown extremely attached to my students who loved me dearly. I was faced with the dilemma of losing my kids, my job, and of course the income to support myself. For a while, I went off the radar, contemplating what my life had become.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Interview with Violet-Jane

Monika: Today I am going to host Violet-Jane, an American young design artist, and transgender woman from Rochester, NY, that shares her art and transition story on social media. Hello Violet-Jane!
Violet-Jane: Hello, Monika, thanks for reaching out!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Violet-Jane: Absolutely, so I am a 27-year-old non-binary transgender woman. I am a design student, artist, chef, and writer. I am hard-of-hearing and I am bilingual (English and American Sign Language). I'm a lifelong student and community advocate.
Monika: Do you cook professionally or only for yourself?
Violet-Jane: I used to cook professionally but between a growing disability and how the environment damaged my relationship with food I had to leave the industry when I was 25. I currently cook for myself but I do my best cooking when it is for people I love and care about. Be it partners, family, friends, or my community I strive to nourish them. Many of my friends who I had to leave behind when I moved missed my cooking a lot so I started recording informal cooking shows for them so they can hear me talk and enjoy my food again.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Interview with Isabelle Lindén

Monika: Today I am going to interview Isabelle Lindén, a Swedish transgender woman and an aspiring social media influencer that shares all her transition stories on Instagram. Hello Isabelle!
Isabelle: Hi Monika! The funny thing is when you call me an ”influencer”. I assure you I'm not. I tried to be one but it didn't work out. After blogging for so many years, now I'm just someone that likes taking photos and posting them on Instagram and stream on twitch, thebelasaga (well I am going to switch to that name anyway)
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Isabelle: Of course, to tell you who I am I must tell you who I was. I had Everything: family, wife, two kids, nice stable income, car, etc.
Now I don't know who I am anymore after being fired from my job, left by my wife, crashed financially, and left in debt for life. Family and friends left me all because I came out as transgender. I do suffer from depression and anxiety, not just because of who I am but more for what has happened.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Interview with Siân Longthorpe

Monika: Today I am going to interview Siân Longthorpe, a British 40-something runner, fitness enthusiast, and lover of the outdoors. Hello Siân!
Siân: Hi Monika, thanks for getting in touch.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Siân: Sure. Your introduction does a good job, but I'm happy to expand on that a little further. My transition began following the breakdown of my marriage in 2016. I remember feeling completely trapped, not being able to see a way forward; it was a grim time and I had some very dark thoughts. I was finally being honest with myself but the thought of making my true feelings public seemed too much. I was also still very ashamed of my true feelings, having kept them hidden for so many years, and I feared how coming out would impact my two young children and my job.

Friday 5 March 2021

Interview with Alexis

Monika: Today I am going to host Alexis, a Spanish model, fashion designer, and social media influencer living in London, UK. Hello Alexis!
Alexis: Hello Monika! Thanks for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Alexis: It is always hard to talk about oneself. I was born in Madrid, in one of the most rebellious districts of the city called Vallekas. My parents were working-class people climbing their way to the middle class with nothing but hard work.
I started feeling like a woman at the age of 5. However, growing up as a transgender girl in the 80s was very challenging as the portrayal of the transgender community was both negative and marginal.
In addition, I knew I liked men, so I was still contemplating that I might be gay. I came out at 16 when my mother found a letter written to me by my then-secret boyfriend of 29 haha, which was quite an experience. But fortunately, regardless of all the concerns my parents had, they allowed me to continue my relationship that lasted 2 years. I have always been quite openly gay and very feminine. Perhaps frequent dates with much older men fulfilled my private fantasy to play the "girl" role.

Monday 1 March 2021

Interview with Lisa van Ginneken

Monika: Today I am going to introduce you to Lisa van Ginneken, a Dutch politician, human rights advocate, and LGBTQI+ activist. Lisa is the President of Transvisie, an organization that supports the trans community in the Netherlands. This year she is running for a Member of Parliament seat, representing D66, a social-liberal political party in the Netherlands. Hello Lisa!
Lisa: Hello Monika! I feel very honored to be here today with you and your readers. 
Monika: We are meeting a couple of weeks before the General Elections in the Netherlands. Our whole trans community is keeping fingers crossed for you, and I am very grateful that you have found some time to present yourself to the readers of my blog. Why do you want to enter the world of politics?
Lisa: Politics might feel a world apart from our own daily lives sometimes, but it is not. It affects our lives hugely, not only through the decisions politicians make but also by the example they set with their behavior. The tone of public debate really worries me, in the Netherlands and worldwide. In my years of advocating transgender rights in the Netherlands, I got familiar and intrigued with the ways of politics. And it felt like this is the right point in my life to put forward this and other experiences I have.

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