Saturday, 29 May 2021

Interview with Heloisa Zaffner

Monika: Today I am talking to Heloisa Zaffner, a Brazilian-born transgender woman living in Orlando, Florida, that documents her life on social media. Hello Heloisa!
Heloisa: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Heloisa: I am originally from Brazil and I moved to the USA to have a better education and freedom! I am an American citizen as well, and I started my transition here as I was never comfortable about doing it in Brazil. Sadly Brazil still leads the ranking of most transgender homicide cases, caused mostly by hate!
Monika: Why did you choose Heloisa for your name?
Heloisa: Heloísa was supposed to be my name if I was born a cisgender woman. It was meant to be!
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Heloisa: I share my happiness and confidence to help the new trans generations not to be afraid because we can be happy the way we are!

"I share my happiness and
confidence to help the
new trans generations."

Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Heloisa: I don’t have many followers and usually 80 % of them are family members and good friends. The remaining ones are social media friends and suitors.
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?
Heloisa: The reason I came out and started my transition late (38 years old) was because of those fears of losing all things that you mentioned. I had a good career, which made it easier to come out at the workplace because company policies protected me.
My family is religious but they are good religious people, and they practice love. I am glad to say I haven’t lost anything being who I am.
Monika: Were your parents surprised by your transition?
Heloisa: My Dad passed already and my Mom was very surprised and felt lost in the beginning. Today only after one year I have her full support!
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Heloisa: Yes, very much! I started my hormone therapy only a year ago. I have had great results so far.
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?
Heloisa: It’s very true! It’s a struggle! Even though people said I was passable I wasn’t happy with the way I used to look and how I could be clocked in the middle of the crowd. I have recently (January) had my FFS and breast implants done in Brazil. I am happier the way I look now!
Monika: Is the Brazilian health service ready to provide services to transgender women?
Heloisa: It already provides a good service; gender reassignment surgery is included in the federal healthcare and Brazil has a free healthcare system! But it cannot cope with a long waiting list due to the lack of doctors and specialists in this field.

"I had a good career,
which made it easier
to come out."

Monika: When we contemplate a facial feminization surgery we always face two options: to undergo extremely deep changes to be feminine and beautiful or light changes to be feminine but preserve something from our character. Is there any third option?
Heloisa: I don’t think so!
Monika: How did you choose your FFS surgeon?
Heloisa: I never liked my nose and my forehead. I always wanted to make it more smooth and feminine. I did some research and I found a private clinic in south Brazil called Transgender Center Brazil. They are amazing!
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Heloisa: Yes, I like Lea T and a friend of mine!
Monika: Lea T is a perfect example that a transgender woman can be successful as a fashion model but there are more ladies that can boast a great model career, just to mention: Thalita Zampirolli, Aleika Barros, Marcela Ohio, Carol Marra, or Patricia Araujo. Does it mean that that the Brazilian fashion industry is open for transgender girls?
Heloisa: Yes, it is!
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Heloisa: Yes, it was in Brazil and she is an actress and a well-known celebrity. As for meeting in person, it was a friend of mine that I had known before her transition.
Monika: I always admired Roberta Close, a Brazilian fashion model. She was the first transgender model to have posed for the Brazilian edition of Playboy. Is she still well-known in Brazil?
Heloisa: She is still well known. She was the Brazilian pioneer on TV and in soap operas after her modeling career.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Heloisa: There has been some progress but we need a lot more! In the case of my other country Brazil, it needs to start over, as politics and religious leaders are the ones to be changed.

"In many ways love is very important for my
freedom, confidence, and courage!"

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Heloisa: I love fashion!!! Dresses, jumpsuits, jeans, sometimes skirts. I like a classy style: Love Gucci, Channel, DKNY, and others. I do not have any favorite colors. I wear anything that looks and feels good.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Heloisa: Yes, very often.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Heloisa: Of course! Who doesn’t, right?
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Heloisa: I did not have any. I have had a stable career and I started my transition while I was employed.

"I would like to write
about being a successful
transgender woman."

Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Heloisa: I don’t know what to say because I haven’t tried a different job since my transition, but I will say like any other human being: study, get a degree, be humble and kind and you will reach the stars.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Heloisa: No, not really.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Heloisa: In many ways, love is very important for my freedom, confidence, and courage! If I didn’t experience love from my family and friends I don’t think I could be this beautiful happy person that everyone tells me I am now!
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Heloisa: Yes, I have thought about it since I was a teenager. I have always intended to write about my struggles, my need to be out and express truly who I was and I couldn’t. I would like to write about being a successful transgender woman. So yes, I am thinking about it again!
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Heloisa: In the present time, my intention is to reinvent myself and truly enjoy who I am. Career-wise I am stable at my position, though I would love to own my business related to my own brand of fashion or beauty!
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Heloisa: To take their own time to decide and pleaseeee see a doctor and maybe a psychologist and therapist. Do not go to the black market for hormones and silicone. Be patient, your beauty can hold a bit longer if you are still alive!
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?
Heloisa: I completely agree. You have got your looks and you are happy? What now? Do not let only beauty affect you. In my own experience, a good career is a key to my happiness.
Monika: Heloisa, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Heloisa: You are very welcome! Anytime. Kisses from Heloísa!

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

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