Sunday 16 May 2021

Interview with Nikki

Monika: Today I am going to interview Nikki, a transgender woman from Canada that documents her transition on social media. Hello Nikki!
Nikki: Hello Monika! Thanks for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Nikki: I'm a person who after college works currently in the support working field. My next step is to go to university for my Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA). I'm a gamer and a trans community leader on Animo. Full of smiles and sass.
Monika: Animo? What is Animo?
Niki: Amino is an online community app with a large number of different communities.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on social media?
Nikki: I wanted to share my transition on social media for some interesting reasons. To start, it is to show how proud of myself I am! To show how far I have come in my transition.
The first time I posted a picture of myself a few people told me I'm a goal for theirs and honestly it blew me away, as well as honored me. I gave people a goal, which is something that gave them a direction, and having a goal in life is a gift. In other words, we are just lost. That may sound egoistic of me but if I can spread hope in any light then I'll be an egotistical person. 
Monika: Do you get many questions from your Reddit readers? What do they ask for?
Nikki: They ask for a number of things from me. Information about my experiences and what it's like to be me. However, honestly, they also call me their goal to transition, and it humbles me to my core. Everyone should have a goal, and I'm touched that I'm someone they looked up to.
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered?
Nikki: The weirdest question I have been asked on Reddit is if I was owned by someone. I said that no one owns me and that to imply that someone does will lead to an intimate relationship with the dirt for him.

"I had figured out from a young 
teen that I wanted to transition."

Monika: Strange indeed. 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?
Nikki: The hardest part about coming out was accepting myself, to be honest. When you feel like you live in the shadow of someone who you wish you were, accepting who you are is hard.
The benefit however was I had nothing to lose. My home had already been destroyed quite literally from catching fire. After going back into the flames to try to save my cats (they got out fine afterwards) I came out of the flames telling myself I could have died in there. Is this how I wanted to be remembered? ‘No’ I told myself so through rebirth through flames I was set on my goal.
Life got worse for a while and my family struggled with the idea but years later they came around to love and support me. I was living in the countryside where I couldn't be myself because of the living situation I was in. I also had very very limited contact with people because of not being able to go to town or have Wi-Fi to reach out for the support I needed. I was stuck and it was like waking up every morning, feeling like you needed to cry but couldn't because you had no personal space sharing this tiny place. I had to cry softly into a fan to cover my crying.
So the price paid was knowing I'd never go back to the safety of my shadow and the year of hell that took my innocent forcefully with the help of what someone did to me. But hope is a hell of a power.
Monika: How did you manage to restore your mental balance?
Nikki: I managed to keep myself going because I refused to give up. I hoped for a better tomorrow and worked to get to that tomorrow. Friends and family are wonderful supports, so reach out if you ever think you can't go on.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Nikki: I am very happy with the hormones affecting my body. I started as a teen so that might have helped me to get where I am with the ability not to know I'm trans.
Monika: How come you started as a teen?
Nikki: I had figured out from a young teen that I wanted to transition. I knew that sitting around just wanting something wouldn't get me to where I wanted to be. I spent years thinking about it. Making sure this was what I wanted, and then made a plan and went for it.
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?
Nikki: I don't know if we can ever truly get past the feeling of not passing. The thing is if we can learn to love ourselves enough to handle it. I haven't been called a sir in years but some days I feel like I look like one. But I know that it's my mind playing tricks on me and that I'm beautiful. Taking the time to self-care and reflect on the situation that made us feel that way is important.
We want to bury our past but that only leads to unresolved feelings that will haunt us. Acknowledging our past as our past is key. Even if it's as easy as saying to yourself "I'm no longer that person".
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Nikki: This is a wonderful question. No, no role models. I have never followed a trans person or trans influencer. I am me and that's all that I needed to be able to stand. I'm no longer in the shadow of someone, so why would I put my own transition next to someone else's? I can wake up and be proud of who I am and the positive impacts I leave in the world. That's a good enough model for me to live by.

"Acknowledging our past as
our past is key."

Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Nikki: I can't remember the first time I saw one. However, the first one I heard about was Caitlyn Jenner. I remember that moment because it felt like lightning hitting me! I remember this feeling of clarity for a moment. But then needing to try to hide those feelings because I didn't want to believe it.
Monika: By the way, what do you think about Caitlyn?
Nikki: I believe she is strong and brave. She shined a light on the transgender community that was amazing to people like me who weren't able to process at the time what I was. She transitioned in the eye of the public if you have ever had a dream of being naked in front of the class. I can only imagine it's much much worse than that. But I thank her.
Monika: How are transgender women perceived in your country?
Nikki: I know that a transwoman is always in many situations that are unsafe and unseen. But my country is pretty safe for people like me and I'm happy about that.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Nikki: As for clothes I don't really have a set style or fashion brand I enjoy. I kinda just wear whatever suits me at that moment. But since my weight loss, I enjoy tank tops and shorts more. Dresses are fun once in a while. But I don't follow any trends. I'm just me.
Monika: You do not like wearing dresses?
Nikki: I do enjoy dresses but it's only for special events for me. I like my pants and tank tops now. I feel more comfortable in my skin and showing it off a little makes me feel good about myself. My transition was also a journey of weight loss.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Nikki: I can always enjoy positive reinforcement about my looks. It's nice to have positive outlooks from others.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Nikki: My first one wasn't really for work. It was more for my placement and it was different. I was forced in some regards by my colleagues at the time to out myself because they would mainly send emails about me with my old name. Most professors were good about it but the overall college wasn't the best.
Monika: The college was not good in which sense? Why?
Nikki: I wouldn't say it was bad, but there was much to be improved upon. Most of the staff was wonderful. But the way that in emails they would use my old name even after being told to please use a different one was upsetting. They would use that name when sending emails to my proctor and more. But they are improving and moving forward to help others like me. I'm actually invited back to talk about my experiences as a transgender woman in my college and life experiences.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Nikki: I would suggest probing to see what the employer's or manager's views of the LGBTQ+ community are. Try to find out without outing yourself. Do what will also keep you safe, you shouldn't put yourself in danger if it can be avoided. Overall find the support you can use in your work field to help you along your journey at your place.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Nikki: As for my local community, I live in a small town that currently doesn't have one. However, on a larger scale, I am a leader of a large online transgender community.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Nikki: Love is something that helps drive me forward. It supports me to keep going forward and never stop. Love helps me see that I can do anything that I want to do! Love is very important to me and my life.

"Your family is a key to help
your transition."

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Nikki: I don't find I'm all too interesting to read about. I find it better to focus on my education to be able to better help my community down the line. That is why I'm currently working towards my bachelor’s degree.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Nikki: The next step is to start university for my BPA. I have been excited to keep moving forward with my education. Later on in life, I'm hoping to have my Master's and possibly have a practice of my own. Also, I'm hoping to be a mother as well within 10 years or so, depending on if uterus transplants turn out.
Monika: I have been reading about uterus transplants recently. This is huge. If successful, it could change our lives!
Nikki: I'm very excited to see what the near future could bring us. I have been hoping to help with the progress of this surgery in any way I can.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls and women that are afraid of transition?
Nikki: If you're sure this is the path for you then do it. Make sure however you're safe and you can transition safely. Your family is key to help your transition. If they are accepting but need time, do remember it's a transition for them as well. But don't give up and never accept what others say if you think you can do better.
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?
Nikki: I think we are much more than just our bodies. I think we are more than just transgender. It is a part of us but not all of us. To encompass our whole Identity as just transgender is limiting who you truly are. To only accept that you have one goal and surgery is as an end, isn't right at all. It's a stepping stone to a more true self. Once you reach that stepping stone you have to push off from it and fly to something new and bigger in your life.
Monika: Nikki, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Nikki: It has been an honor to speak my voice. Thank you for listening.

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

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