Friday, 14 May 2021

Interview with Victoria Caram

Monika: Today I have invited an amazing woman. Victoria Maxima Caram is an Argentinian hairstylist, makeup artist, model, media personality, adult entertainment producer, and former stage performer living in the Netherlands. She is the Executive Director of Miss Trans Star International, a well-known transgender beauty pageant that is held every year in Barcelona, Spain. Hello Victoria!
Victoria: Hello Monika, I feel honored to be here today. I’ve seen so many talented and famous women in your interviews that I still don’t believe I am here.
Monika: You seem to be a woman of many talents. Could you say a few words about yourself?
Victoria: Well I wouldn’t say talents, I am a well-prepared woman, but above everything, I have been persevering with an almighty faith.
Monika: Victoria is a nice name. How did you choose it?
Victoria: In Roman mythology, Victoria was the name of the goddess of victory.
Monika: Before we have a closer look at your amazing professional career, I would like to ask you about your years in Argentina. Did you have a happy childhood there?
Victoria: Not at all, I was a kid with ADHD, so there were moments that even I did not want to be with me, hahaha. I come from the north of Argentina, Tucuman, from a very wealthy family; I went to the best elite schools. My mother is a doctor and my father is a businessman.
I have always been very close to my mom; practically I was raised at her clinic, in the middle of doctors, nurses, elevators. It was a lot of fun, and every day was a different adventure, but in the end, I was a very lonely boy. I was discriminated against by the teachers and classmates from primary school until they kicked me out when I was 16.
And look how crazy is the life that 20 years later, God put the tools in my hand to make justice for all those LGTTBQ+ kids that these people made their life miserable just for being who they are.

"It was a lot of fun, and every day
was a different adventure, but in
the  end, I was a very lonely boy."

Monika: In Argentina, you finished your studies with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations and you became a transgender activist, right? You were one of the first trans women who spoke in the Argentine Senate in support of the most comprehensive gender identity inclusion law in the world, which was passed in 2012. How did you feel at that time? Victorious? Finally happy?
Victoria: That day we traveled from Rosario to Buenos Aires with the girls of “Comunidad Trans Rosario'' by bus. It was the first time I was traveling on a bus with so many trans women. We arrived at the Congress, a historical square, full of trans activists from all over the country. The law was already approved by the low chamber, but the final decision was to be taken by the senators, so we listened to one senator after another, from early morning, and after a long day, close to 10 pm “The Gender Identity Law” was approved by 55 votes in favor and 1 abstention.
We hugged and cried so much with the girls that night. I gave a wonderful speech in that historical place. I said: "We came here today not only for us, but for all those trans women that were silenced in the police stations all over the country by the military governments, and we tell all those judges that refused our cases when we presented the “habeas corpus” to change our names, that we listened today and today we are coming home with a huge smile in our faces."
Yes, of course, I felt victorious, but that only lasted a few days, then I was subject to political and police persecution. First, my city blocked my birth certificate, and at that moment I was living in Rosario, then I felt the need to be where the girls needed me the most. I moved to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, and I became a referent in diversity for the whole of Patagonia.
It took me 2 years and I pressed charges with the support of some NGO to unblock my birth certificate and I received my ID in Ushuaia. Even then, I didn't feel victorious at all, because having a female ID wasn't the solution to all my problems. It was useless to have an ID that reflects your identity if there were no laws that support it. We were still fighting for equal access to jobs, health, housing, education.
Monika: Do you still keep in touch with other girls from Comunidad Trans Rosario? What are they doing these days?
Victoria: Yes, of course. I am always in touch with them. I lived with Erika in a very difficult time of my life. Then I moved to Europe and a few months later she followed me. A few years ago she became very ill, so life allowed me to give her back the favor and I brought her with me to Barcelona and took care of her till she recuperated. We call each other every week. And Michelle, she is a role model in political activism, so we are always in touch. She is a trans superhero. One of the persons I admire most.
Monika: However, you decided to leave Argentina for good and come to Europe. Why? 
Victoria: It was due to police persecution. I can't remember how many times I was in detention for doing the right thing. Every time the police arrested one girl without a legal reason I used to organize a protest in front of the police station, so suddenly they got 50-100 transwomen there protesting till they released them. But the last time they arrested me, it was crazy. I called the Police for domestic violence, already having my female ID, and when they saw it was me, they arrested me and released my partner.
I was put in jail with all-male criminals, so the girls of “Comunidad Trans Rosario” organized a protest there. The prison warden came to me and told me: This is the last time we are going to hear from you. You will be relocated and put in silence forever. A police van came and told me they were taking to the Judicial Police School, far from the city. And I knew that was my end.

"I paid all of the prices. You can read in the
newspapers that they always talk about my background,
about my being from a high-class family."

When I arrived there, there were a lot of policemen waiting for me, to both sides of the car with their guns keeping them upside down, ready to make me walk what they called “the walk of death”. And suddenly I heard a noise, looked back and started to see something like a sand storm. It was a car speeding up until it stopped in front of us, and the woman got out shouting: “I am Mrs. Caram, Attorney and Legal advisor of the “Movimiento Evita”. 
“Movimiento Evita” was like a political party that I worked in all those years, as a referent in Diversity. She told them about all the procedures, indicating that they breached my human rights, and she took me to the hospital. I was in the hospital for one night, and that was the moment when I decided to leave Argentina. I realized that the next time I was not going to be so lucky.
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?
Victoria: I paid all of the prices. You can read in the newspapers that they always talk about my background, about my being from a high-class family. I went to elite schools and universities. But I thank Moses, for the break out of that bubble because all that makes me more “human”.
When I was kicked out from home, I met face to face with Mr. “HUNGER” and Mr. “COLD”. Before that, I was a very spoiled gay guy, traveling every winter holiday to Miami to enjoy the sun and come back in a hurry because I didn't want to lose the sky season in Bariloche, in Argentinean Patagonia.
When I was put in the streets, I got my first encounter with sex work and on the same night with drugs. As you can see I wasn’t the exception. I think with all that I answer your last question as follows: EVERYTHING WAS HARD FOR ME. But how we say in Argentina, “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger”.
Monika: Were your parents surprised by your transition? Did they accept it?
Victoria: They were in shock until the moment I came out. I used to have a girlfriend and I used to play rugby, can you imagine that? I am listening to your voice with your eyebrows super-high: “You used to play what?????? Yes Monika, Rugby! Hahahahaha.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Victoria: You mean testosterone in microdose, right? I haven't taken estrogens for 8 years, and I don't recommend it to anyone. After I did my breast implants I quit it, and I realized I was dead alive.
Estrogen plus testosterone blockers almost killed me. When you are in that combination you feel at the beginning like a pregnant woman. You cry for everything, everything is a major tragedy, your libido is null, and depression sleeps with you in the same bed. NO THANKS!

"We have to be proud of who we
are, accepting ourselves as a
whole, as human beings."

It is very important to send this message, you can be a woman without hormones, and you can be trans without hormones. Our first change is about our boobs. Girls, pay for boobs augmentation and continue with your hormones, living your better sex years. And with that I mean we have to accept our genitalia and enjoy our pleasure and body.
Monika: So you do not advise a gender reassignment surgery to transgirls? For some of us, this is the only way to match our bodies with how we feel.
Victoria: Don't take me wrong. It's not that I don't recommend it, no one can tell you what to do or you should not to your own body, nobody is in your shoes. What I recommend is first to explore your own body; rebuild the relationship with your genitalia. At least give it a try. You cannot reject something if you do not even try it. And there, after you tried it, decide. If it's stronger than yourself go all the way. Do not waste any second more of your life being someone that you are not.
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?
Victoria: Yes, that's true but there is always someone that discovers us. Every transwoman has got her “Achilles Heel”. In my case, it is the voice, hahaha.
We have to be proud of who we are, accepting ourselves as a whole, as human beings. If we accept, respect, and love ourselves, we are not the ones with the problem here. When you show your weak points, they will take advantage of them, so my advice is to transform your weak points into your strength.
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?
Victoria: Not that I know of, otherwise I would already try it! Hahaha. I started slowly, with my nose… then a little bit of cheeks and when I became 29, I did FF with laparoscopic surgery. It's a very subtle procedure.
Monika: A laparoscopic surgery? They say it is a “minimally invasive” surgery. Is it true? 
Victoria: I will say that it is too much! I would say a little invasive surgery, which left me no scar at all. During the first month, I could see only three pimples, one on each side next to the ears and one in the middle of the forehead. UNBELIEVABLE! I recommend it! Of course, it is not for every person, for example, if you have a really big forehead and big jaws, there is no other way to do it, just old school, with the open-air surgery, with the incision ear to ear to create the magic!
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Victoria: Yes, of course, Cris Miró, she was the first Trans Woman that became a celebrity in Argentina, on TV, and in the famous theatres of Calle Corrientes in Buenos Aires.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Victoria: The first time I met a trans person was when I was 5. My mother got one of the best clinics in the north of Argentina, and her business partner, Dr. Iriarte, got 2 twin trans daughters that used to work at the pharmacy of the clinic, Cielo and Fanny. At that time whenever my mother performed surgery, she didn’t have anyone to look after me. So once she took me with her and left me in the pharmacy with the girls, and I grew up playing with them. One of them adopted me when my family kicked me out from home.
Cielo still is my mother and has also been a role model to me. She introduced me to this world and showed me how to transition without putting myself in danger.
Monika: Why did you decide to settle down in the Netherlands?
Victoria: I just followed my intuition, all the biggest intellectual revolutions started here, so I just followed my heart.

"The most amazing thing of being trans is the power
to design and customize every inch of yourself."

Monika: How did you become an adult entertainment producer?
Victoria: If it wasn’t for the adult entertainment industry, we wouldn’t be even a fantasy. I was always disappointed with what I watched because those films were not real. You never open an elevator door and find seven trans girls touching each other. So I decided to change that to humanize us a little more.
The motto of my company is: “Real situations in real-time”. I let the actors interact with each other, and I film them with a minimum of 6 cameras, so I will be able to do the magic in the post editor. That way everything that you are watching is real. I hate when I watch porn and the actors are looking back. In that way, I think they lose engagement with the audience.


All the photos: courtesy of Victoria Maxima Caram.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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