Thursday, 20 May 2021

Interview with Cassandra Grace

Monika: Today I would like to introduce to you Cassandra Grace, an American entrepreneur, change management consultant, the President and CEO of Graceful Change LLC, and author of Grace in Transition: The First Four Seasons (2021). Hello Cassandra!
 Cassandra: Hi! Thank you for this opportunity. I'm excited to talk with you!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Cassandra: Funny. Hot. Creative. Hot. Ambitious. Intense. Sweet. OK... those are a few words about me. :) Oh, you want me to go a little further? OK, cool. I am a very late-blooming trans woman who is incredibly grateful for the ability to finally be comfortable in my own skin.
I treat my transition as a literal miracle and try and appreciate every day of my life as a day that I never thought I would be able to experience. The joy that you see on my Instagram or the desire to help people that I express through my company is real, it is sincere, and it comes from a place of gratitude for this miracle. I'm also kind of funny. And hot. Did I mention that?
Monika: Cassandra is not a common name. Why did you choose it?
Cassandra: I always tell people who ask me how to pronounce my name: "It's Ca-SAHN-dra; rhymes with DRAH-ma." I just love the sound of it, the sophisticated elegance of it, and the story behind the name, this woman who had the gift of seeing the future. I feel like I have that gift and I hope that unlike the mythological Cassandra, that people actually listen to what I say. I have a Greek girlfriend who told me that the name also means "she who ensnares men." What can I say, she has a point. :)

"I treat my transition as a literal miracle and
try and appreciate every day of my life."

Monika: You just published your book titled "Grace in Transition: The First Four Seasons". What inspired you to write it?
Cassandra: When I began my transition I was doing it for one person: myself. It was literally an effort to save my life. As I stepped out into the world with greater and greater joy, I noticed that others responded to me and my story in a positive way. This kept on happening over and over until I got to the point where I decided to share my story on Instagram in an effort to connect with even more people.
Given how misunderstood the trans experience still is, given how much ignorance and fear there is among those who don't see trans people as valid, given how I believe we need to have as much positive representation of the life-saving experience that transitioning can be for those of us who were born this way, I wrote this book as a way of bringing focus to my particular story and make it relatable to as many people as possible. I also like money, so I hope people will buy it.
Monika: You share your intimate life moments on social media too. Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Cassandra: I'm surprised how many guys ask me to marry them. Honest. Like, I don't get a lot of dick pics. HEY GUYS: THIS DOESN'T MEAN THAT I WANT YOU TO SEND ME DICK PICS!!! DON'T DO IT!!! But truly, I get a lot of marriage proposals. Also lots of pictures of flowers. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many gentlemen are out there and how respectful they are. That said, I am not looking to get married. Also: please no dick pics. :)

Available via Amazon.

Monika: You are a professional change management consultant. Did it help you with your transition?
Cassandra: Absolutely! I am a firm believer in the power of evolutionary change as a much more enduring force than revolutionary change. What this meant in practice for my transition is that I approached the process with an open mind about where things could lead and have tried to understand and appreciate every step forward before I take another one. And every time I felt like I achieved a new milestone whether in my presentation or physical appearance or hormone levels, etc. I would pause and reflect on what I had achieved before moving forward. I feel like this has given me the best chance to grow emotionally and psychologically as physical changes have taken place.
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?
Cassandra: The hardest thing about coming out was saying the words "I am trans" out loud. I spent a lifetime of overcompensation and self-denial trying to be someone I wasn't, doing everything I could to live up to the expectations I thought others had of me. That is a shitty way to live whether you are trans or not. Being able to say those words meant being honest with myself and that was incredibly hard.
Once I accepted myself, though, I haven't looked back. Did I lose family and friends? Yes. What I came to understand, though, is that they lost someone as well. However, I simply could not continue living the lie that made them comfortable. I have zero regrets and I have zero need for anyone who can't accept me for me. The idea that I needed to remain miserable in order to keep them comfortable? Fuck that.

"The hardest thing about coming out was
saying the words "I am trans" out loud."

Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Cassandra: It is the most wonderful thing to be running on the proper fuel. My brain understood the difference well before my body did, and once my body began to catch up, I have enjoyed every moment of this second puberty.
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?
Cassandra: Passing is such a complicated subject. I have views on it, but I want to strongly emphasize that this is my view as it relates to myself and I am not judging anyone here. As women, we are subjected to the peer pressure of Beauty Culture. Everywhere we go, there are images of perfect women that are held up as an ideal. Every woman has to deal with this pressure in some way, whether they are trans or not.
There are many definitions of passing, but I believe the healthiest one--but also maybe the hardest one--is self-acceptance. I will never judge anyone for whatever they choose to do with their body or their appearance, but I do believe that the most important work anyone can do is the inner work of self-acceptance.
I associate "passing" with being accepted and if I can accept myself, then it's up to others to decide if they want to accept me or not. That said, it has taken me several years of constantly putting myself out there, constantly taking risks, constantly taking steps forward to be able to speak with this kind of IDGAF confidence. What kind of steps? Oh, honey, that's what's in the book!

"As women, we are subjected to the peer
pressure of Beauty Culture."

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Cassandra: My role models are all the women who shared their stories online, who stepped out from the shadows and showed that it is never too late to be yourself. I never really saw any positive trans representation on TV or in movies, but the internet gave me examples of women that I felt a connection to, women who helped me finally make some sense of the confusion I was carrying around my entire life. I drew much inspiration from these women and their stories and many of them were very generous with their time in answering my many questions when I reached out to them.


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

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