Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Interview with Josephine Radler


Monika: Today I am going to host Josephine Radler, a Swedish transgender woman from the capital city of Stockholm that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Josephine!
Josephine: Thank you, Monika. I feel honored to be featured and interviewed for your site. It feels like a safe environment.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Josephine: I was born like a half-century ago in a quite conservative family but with a mother who could see my need to express my femininity as a young child. Neither she nor I had the language/idiom back then to put what she saw or I felt about myself. Nevertheless, it took me nearly 50 years of struggle with my gender identity before I came out.
I work as a guide/hostess at a museum a bit outside of Stockholm. I live in Stockholm city and love it. I love clothes/fashion, makeup - I have a dream to become an MUA. When I’m free/off work I like to be at my sister’s and my country house, meet friends, have dates, go out for fine dining. And I’m a sucker for oysters and seafood.
Monika: Josephine is a nice name. Why did you choose it?
Josephine: Oh that is a long story. Before I came out I used several names: Jenny, Jennifer, Josephine; all of them begin with J, don’t ask me why. And then when I came out and I was about to transition socially and chose a name, I put a lot of thought into it.
Without revealing my dead name it has the same amount of letters as Josephine and it can have German and Latin spelling like Josephine/Josefin. My full chosen name is Julia Josephine. That’s a little about the name and I must say that I love my names.

2013 (left) versus 2020 (right)
"As for coming out, I was worried that no one would
like me when I came out."

Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Josephine: Actually it is more an accident. I like to show off my life a bit superficially on Instagram and on Facebook where I do put out my deeper thoughts such as memories and my thoughts on SRS. The memories are often connected to my trans identity. Many around me thought my trans identity was some kind of ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria). So I think my inspiration dwells in my Exhibitionism.
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?
Josephine: Oh this is such a hard thing on a wide spectrum. I live in Sweden and I’m happy about that as a trans woman. The acceptance for us transgender people is quite good here in Sweden. I have many cismales and cisfemales as my friends. My best friend is a ciswoman and she forgets that I’m trans.
As for coming out, I was worried that no one would like me when I came out. Actually a long story again. I added my name Josephine to my Facebook profile and then I was attacked by a bigot. Instead of arguing with the bigot, I chose to come out for all on Facebook. Before that, I had told three friends, my sister, and my father that I’m a woman and waited for my gender identity valuation.
Then I can find it hard with norms — both cis-norms and trans-norms in the trans community. For example, the expectation of bottom surgery by both the cis community and trans community.

"Now after almost 3 years on
hormones, I’m more confident
and sure about myself."

Monika: Was your mother surprised by your transition?
Josephine: Oh, my mother died in 2015 and I came out in 2017 but in her heaven, I think she is happy for me today. Of course, she was happy to get an AMAB child but again back then neither she nor I had the words and language to express yourselves and we are talking about the end of the ’70s.
When I was 20 years old in 1987, I thought about coming out then. However, I don’t think it would have gone as well as it has now, acceptance for us transgender people is better today than it was back in the ’80s.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Josephine: I think I have been lucky with the HRT, given the fact that I started it at the age of 50. The results are usually the best if you do it before the age of 25. Anyway, I want to undergo FFS and probably have it done by the Facial Team in Spain. I have a lot of dysphoria caused by not having a better female hip-waist ratio. I want a bigger ass, too. Oh, now I am complaining.
My sister told me not long ago “and you became a beautiful woman”. Comments like that make me smile and happy. And I’m happy with the changes and how I look today. Before hormones I rarely took selfies, now I do it all the time, haha. Conclusion about hormones: yes I’m happy but I have issues with some female attributes.
Monika: Why did you choose the Facial Team in Marbella? How did you do your research and clinic comparisons in this regard?
Josephine: I haven’t chosen them yet. I have two friends who did their FFS there and I think their results are good. The Facial Team is more about light changes and I think what I have seen looks good. But I will do deeper research later.
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?
Josephine: Today I do not know why a man is looking at me... if I’m clocked or he thinks I’m just an attractive woman. Now after almost 3 years on hormones, I’m more confident and sure about myself and that helps a lot when it comes to coping with passing or not passing issues. Inner strength and confidence help me. I never thought a man would say that I’m beautiful and sexy. And only see me as a woman. It is a wonderful feeling. But confidence helps me ... and working on my voice feminization.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Josephine: Oh yes, of course, there are some or many I have followed. It had been before I came out. I was depressed living a double life: of a cisman and in the evening I went out to bars being feminine. I just felt that this didn’t work and that I needed help. So I googled “trans” and on Swedish television, there was a documentary titled “girls like us” and it was about 5 Swedish trans-females. This documentary made my life change...

"I think I have been lucky
with the HRT, given the fact that
I started it at the age of 50."

One of the girls in the film was Vanessa Lopez who you have interviewed. After this, I discovered all trans women on YouTube and started to follow some of them. Maya Henry from Canada but ancestors from Scandinavia. Hannah Abigail from Germany. For me, she has saved my life showing it is possible to transition later in life and regardless of many obstacles. But now I have realized that I am a role model for others at times. I am more kind of a trans woman who just wants to live my life as the woman I always felt to be.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Josephine: I thought a lot about this question. All my encounters were through television and never positive in any way or form about trans women. It was like all transgender people fall into drugs and prostitution and sooner or later would commit suicide. Until I saw the documentary I mentioned above “Girls like us”. It showed it is possible to live life as a trans woman.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Josephine: In general I think the situation is good but we need to protect our own rights. I was worried about how things went for transgender people in the USA for the past 4 years. Now I’m relieved as Biden is the president. Usually, things from the US do sooner or later come to Europe/Sweden. But we have to look out for the extreme groups here in Sweden that more or less do not want any good for LGBT+ people. I am glad I live in Sweden.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Josephine: I’m a mix of everything. But since I had my breast augmentation (December 2019), the main focus has been on them, haha, as you can see in my photos. Before I really started to transition socially I got the question if I was a dress girl. I answered I don’t know. Today 2,5 years later I have about 20 dresses, last time I counted it was 18 and I have bought some since then. Today I’m more relaxed and I can go to work in sneakers instead of something with heels.
So yeah I love dresses and have many from a Swedish brand named Mad Elf Art. Before coming out and transitioning I hated to buy clothes. In the past 2-3 years I bought so many clothes and tested almost everything that comes in women's fashion and dressing. And I have to admit the more feminine or girly it is, I love it. And I also realized I do pass easier in dresses or skirts. I realize I can talk about clothes endlessly... maybe I will add more here, haha!
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Josephine: Both yes and no. I like to use the style I know works for me. Before Christmas, I bought a new eyeshadow palette from Anastasia BH: sultry. OMG, it has a lot of shimmer and glitter, which doesn’t work so well on me if I use an excessive amount of it. Then I go to YouTube and watch some tutorials for that palette.
I do put a lot of thought into my make-up for different occasions but for work, I nowadays use just some concealer and powder, some eyeshadow and mascara. If it is a date I put a lot of thought and work into the makeup and outfit or if it is an important meeting of some kind. Then I avoid experimenting and just go safe.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Josephine: I nearly want to ask back: why are you asking? Are you joking? I think any woman likes to be complimented on her looks and I’m no exception. I do love it when someone can see I have done something, especially when it comes from men. Well, I’m happier with my look with or without compliments now than before. It has made my dysphoria easy. 
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Josephine: I have been at the same place since 2011 so I have not done any job interviews. But I have thought about searching for some jobs to see how it goes as a trans woman.

"I have always been a woman so the only way
out was to transition or die."

Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Josephine: Be yourself! And do not take any shit like transphobia or bigotry. I know it is easier said than done.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Josephine: Not really. I'm a member of Sweden’s oldest trans association called FPES and help them during the pride week in Stockholm. I thought that I would become a trans-activist. But I really dislike discussing with people who seem not to respect us, such as TERFs and transphobic men or parents. I just want to live life as the woman I’m. 
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Josephine: Oh love in my life? It is sort of important for me to have a partner. I did date a lot before coronavirus then and now I have been careful. Actually, I do not date at all right now because of the coronavirus and I have a friend with benefits. Not love and that partnership I want but right now I am happy about it.
But love is important for me and then not only for my life partner but also for friends and colleagues. For example, the relationship I have with my soul sister is very important for me and it is so much about love. She is always so supportive and as I said before she really forgets that I’m transgender even if she knew me before I came out. We got really close when I did come out as Josephine.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Josephine: I have thought about it. I'm more interested in novels than memoirs.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Josephine: I don’t know how to answer this. It is hard for me to know what will happen next hour. I hope I’m happy in the next 5-7 years.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Josephine: It is so hard to recommend anything but I realized that I have always been a woman so the only way out was to transition or die. I had no other way and I wanted to live authentically. And that is what I do now.
Monika: Josephine, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Josephine: Thank you! It has been fun and pleasure.

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

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