Saturday, 1 May 2021

Interview with Louise Croucher

Monika: Today I am going to interview Louise Croucher, a British aspiring writer from London who has recently put down the pen to start her own handmade candle-making business. She is the author of “The Butterfly on Fire: Mind, Body and Soul” (2017), “The Butterfly on Fire: Caterpillar to Chrysalis” (2018), and “Horned Winged Blessed” (2019). Alongside her career as a writer, she is now the founder of The Arlete Way Ltd., a company that promotes better well-being and standard of mental health through a three-week routine that involves a wonderful selection of essential oil gift sets. Hello Louise!
Louise: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Louise: Well, you already know the main points of interest about me! I grew up in South East London, and other than my time living in Japan, I have lived in London all my adult life. A few years ago I moved into my own flat in North West London, and I love it there.
I'm a transgender woman, and write mostly dystopian fantasy. The transgender element is usually incorporated naturally, to show how societies could potentially just treat it as a normality - which is my ultimate goal and outcome.
Monika: Louise is a nice name. Why did you choose it?
Louise: It was what my parents said they would have chosen if they had given birth to a natal girl. I liked it. So that was that! I specifically wanted to go with something simple and perhaps even mundane, so that I could blend in when I have to.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Louise: Great question. In all honesty, two answers come to mind. One being that I've always wanted to touch other people's lives. I want to shine. From a young age I was dancing on the stage, singing in front of large audiences and creating. My Instagram account is a mirror of that creativity wanting to escape.

"I'm a transgender woman, and write mostly
dystopian fantasy."

Then secondly, perhaps more entertaining as an answer, I first created this account when my boyfriend at the time broke up with me. I'd been having years of not really successfully finding love. @louisetheloveless explains that, haha. I created it to share with the trans community how finding love was going for me. In all honesty, I never imagined it would grow like it has. I'm very lucky! And I love what I do. :)
Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Louise: I get a lot of "hey"s and "hi"s. So many, in fact, that I rarely monitor my inbox as much as I would like to. The more I respond, the more they seem to reply with more small talk. My life is pretty fast-paced, and I'm not always able to find time for small talk. However, every so often I get a really serious question from a follower. They'll ask about how much courage it took to come out. Or they'll ask if they can talk to me about potentially being trans. Sometimes I'll even get someone asking for advice on how to keep going in life. I've never taken anything more seriously.
Monika: You published three novels: “The Butterfly on Fire: Mind, Body and Soul” (2017), “The Butterfly on Fire: Caterpillar to Chrysalis” (2018), and “Horned Winged Blessed” (2019). How do you come up with ideas for your books?
Louise: The first two are pretty much the story of how I transitioned? On top of that, I have always created fantasy worlds in my head as a form of escapology. That pretty much set the stage for the first two. The third, Horned Winged Blessed was me actually applying myself for the first time and creating a world, story and characters from scratch. It’s a dystopian novel that makes a social commentary on patriarchy and feminism - so it’s still very much close to the important issues of the world for me.

Louise's books on Amazon.

Monika: Are you working on any new novel?
Louise: I was. It was going to be epic. However, midway through, I realised that my actual passion has always been to start my own company. Due to not being able to focus on more than one thing at a time as well as I would like, I decided to pause my writing for a while and give The Artete Way Ltd. all of my attention and energy.
Monika: You speak Japanese, not the easiest language to learn for the Europeans. What is the most intriguing element of the Japanese culture or way of life?
Louise: Again, for me learning Japanese and the notion of wanting to move to Japan from a younger age was yet another form of escapology from my dysphoria. I always thought that moving to another country, so different from my own, and devoting all of my time into studying the language would be a distraction from my gender identity issues. That was a huge part of it for me - envisioning Japan as a nirvana, in which my issues wouldn’t matter. I was… however, sadly mistaken. Japan is just another country. In fact, it’s similar to the UK in many, many ways.
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?
Louise: We do indeed. It's a sad truth. We're far from done in this war for our own existence. So far I've been fired (illegally) on the spot by I think three jobs now purely for being transgender. I've lost best friends, friends and don't talk to a lot of my family. The absolutely craziest thing now is also that I experience what it's like on the sour end of sexism and misogyny. In my current role as "General Manager" of an office, I am on a whole £20k less than the head of sales - who works under me, reports to me and has fewer, easier targets than me... because he is a man.
Monika: I love your words about the transition. Let me quote you: "Transitioning is like going from living your life in black and white to living in colour". So beautiful. Is this how you felt and feeling now?
Louise: It is and it isn't. Like any painting, spread with a wonder of colour, time and life will slowly cause those bright colours to fade and dampen. That, like many others in this newfound world of 'unprecedented times', is how I feel at the moment. I'll always want to do more - breast augmentation, facial feminisation surgery, complete hair removal. I've come a long way, of course - but I'm still reminded on a daily basis the reality of being a transwoman instead of a cis woman.

"Transitioning is like going from living your life
in black and white to living in colour."

Monika: You have launched a GoFundMe fundraiser for your top surgery. Let's use this opportunity to promote it a bit.
Louise: Thank you! Well, it all started around two years ago when I lost a lot of weight. Because my breasts (around a B cup back then) were all made of body fat and nothing else, losing all of that weight meant that I had hardly anything left. Nowadays, I am extremely flat chested, and as a 6ft. blonde girl with Amazonian hips and thighs... it shows, haha. The GoFundMe is a way to hopefully build up the finance to get breast augmentation down and feel better in my body once again.
Monika: You are also a founder of the Arlete Way, a small business project with homemade products. How is it going?
Louise: So totally separate to the above, I have been working in the world of e-commerce for a while now. My business, the Arlete Way, is my attempt at starting my own online store! We make three gift sets; each one represents a "phase". Artemis. Selene. Hecate. Together they make the Triple Goddess gift sets. The idea behind the Arlete Way is that you use each set in a routine, following the steps towards wellbeing and a better mindset for each. You can check out more on my website which features reviews of my fans that have followed this routine and have the positive life they wanted to show for it! 
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Louise: I'm satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment, but I'm not satisfied with what the hormones do not affect. I love my body. I'm curvy, feminine and that brings me peace. But it's only half the journey. The rest involves time and money, that a lot of trans people do not have.
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?
Louise: The right answer here would be something like "love yourself and don't care what people think", but I personally don't think that is realistic. If I did, I wouldn't spend at least half of my day worrying about my appearance, paranoid on public transport or deflated at my current boob situation. I think it's about balance. As long as the desire to pass comes from your own peace of mind, and not satisfying the world around you, then I think we should go for it. The moment I realised I want to look feminine, not necessarily prettier, I realised that further cosmetic surgery was something that I was doing for me. That's the key, I guess.

"As long as the desire to pass comes from your own
peace of mind, and not satisfying the world around
you, then I think we should go for it."

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?
Louise: The third option is always to push for a society in which people don't instantly perceive someone's gender identity based on their facial structure. Unfortunately, because we're years away from that state of mind, it costs trans people thousands just to "fit in". However, if we're talking about wanting to look like the gender in which we feel we are, then I don't think there is a third option. We deserve to look how we feel, and sometimes that takes drastic changes.


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

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