Saturday 19 June 2021

Interview with Aleks

Monika: Today I am going to have a conversation with Aleks, an American esthetician, former male model, and proud transgender woman that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Aleks!
Aleks: Hello! Thank you for interviewing me. It’s an honor to be a part of your blog.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Aleks: Being a visible trans woman on social media has helped me spread love, support, hope and education within and outside of the LGBT community. After a viral birthday post last summer, which attracted millions of views across Instagram and Reddit, it connected me with so many people struggling the way I have. The messages that I inspired someone to be themselves were beyond heartwarming. With that new little platform led to being interviewed and sharing my story on a global platform.
It’s my intention to help others understand the medical and psychological causes of gender dysphoria. This will help us gain access to lifesaving and affirming care, and overcome discrimination.
Being transgender is not a choice. I’m no celebrity. Ultimately just a proud 25-year-old trans woman with a big heart. But most people couldn’t begin to fathom just what it took to bring me into this world.
Here is my story on how I was a miracle infertility baby born through the rarest and most invasive surgery/procedure known as zift. In utero all unborn babies start out as female for the first 8 weeks of life. because the female hormone estrogen is high, only the X chromosome is present, and the genitalia resemble a female. When a Y chromosome from the father kicks in the baby starts to develop into a male.

"Considering the high suicide rates of trans people and
all the anti-trans bills sweeping our nation, I wanted to
add my rare story to the conversation."

With me my brain size, structure and neurological wiring never changed over. Due to the way I was born a hormonal and genetic mutation in the womb occurred giving me gender dysphoria. Genetically sensitive to testosterone that caused bad adenoma cells in my body. 
Gender dysphoria caused years of depression, stress, anxiety, isolation, health issues and suicidal thoughts. Until I sought help and received my diagnosis and underwent my gender transition.
Monika: Why did you choose Aleks for your name?
Aleks: It was very close to my deadname. When I started my legal transition I struggled with the fear of hearing a completely different name than I was using for over 20 years. Aleks sounded pretty to me and was a unique name. Often considered a short version for Alexandria.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Aleks: Considering the high suicide rates of trans people and all the anti-trans bills sweeping our nation, I wanted to add my rare story to the conversation. The more awareness the better. Having that post go viral and receiving thousands of messages from all over the world made sharing my story rewarding. To spark hope for others and show it’s possible to become happy, healthy and live an authentic life.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Aleks: Yes, a fair amount. They often are confidential message requests asking how to come out to parents? What steps did I take medically to transition? How did I find courage to accept this about myself? How can I transition slowly? Why do I feel this way? Do I date men or women? Do I want children someday? Pros and cons of transition? Was my family supportive? How I discovered I was trans? etc. And oftentimes the messages are sweet compliments.

"I highly recommend HRT to any trans person.
Yes, it is totally worth it."

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?
Aleks: I’m very lucky to come from a loving, supportive, kind, and helpful family. Considering all It took to have me and being their miracle baby, they only wanted me to be happy, healthy, confident and live as long as possible. This is something I don’t take for granted.
As I know, most trans people are shunned from their families, which is truly heartbreaking. There are many hard parts of transitioning. Health Risks involved, will I pass, transition takes lots of time, costs a lot of money etc.
My two biggest fears were dating/finding love and worries about my safety and or future employment. All those worries when coming out are very common among trans people.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Aleks: I think it’s important to highlight that MTF hormone replacement therapy takes a minimum of 2-3years and upwards of 5yrs for the fullest effects. Overall I’m satisfied with the effects of estrogen injections and progesterone. It has softened my skin, rounded my face out, helped me gain 10lbs, develop A cup breasts, lower my libido, all while aligning my body and brain. Getting used to monthly periods (PMS symptoms) from the rise and fall of hormone levels has been an adjustment.
Hormone therapy isn’t magic but it’s lifesaving and affirming. It’s changed my hormonal sex to female, secondary sex characteristics, genetics to that of female relatives, and altered how my body functions. I desire more non-invasive cosmetic treatments to assist in what HRT can’t give me. But I highly recommend HRT to any trans person. Yes, it is totally worth it. Give it time and be realistic is my best advice. It’s never too late.
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?
Aleks: Absolutely understandable! It’s a sad yet true reality that trans people who pass have an easier life. It shouldn’t be that way. But those who pass are often safer, have more opportunities and a better quality of life. That’s obviously why passing is the gold standard for most. Cosmetic treatments help and surgery like FFS.

"Find one or two features or physical characteristics
you love about yourself and own them."

However my best advice is we can cope with this judgment by knowing being trans is a beautiful thing. Plus everyone in the world looks different. Find one or two features or physical characteristics you love about yourself and own them. Also acknowledge the world is becoming a bit more accepting. and gender norms and roles are becoming outdated. and oftentimes with enough time on HRT alone it can do wonders to the point one might not need any surgery rather facial, breast etc. be patient and use hairstyling, skincare and makeup, and clothes to express yourself. Living a healthy lifestyle through a good diet and occasional exercise will help your physical changes and make you feel good.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Aleks: There are so many role models. It’s not fair to pick one particular person. To be honest I think our entire community is brave and role models. The T in LGBT is often the most misunderstood. To be born in the wrong body and go through the wrong puberty or suffering in silence is devastating. Anyone who has the courage to accept that and come out is a role model in my eyes.
I’ve been blessed to meet many new trans friends. Some I text or call daily and meet up with. I love them all and am grateful for the connections I’ve made. We are one big family and support each other. Sadly some trans friends I’ve lost along the way, they passed away or we lost communication. However they’re still in my heart and memory. It’s my goal to continue blogging and try to post more often as I settle into my life and keep transitioning in other ways.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Aleks: I do remember seeing Caitlyn Jenner's big reveal and transition like the whole world remembers. But prior to that I recall seeing transgender models on different talk shows or in articles. Andreja Pejic and Lea T stand out for me, as well as Chaz Bono.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Aleks: So many trans women and men are coming out and paving the way for the younger generation. I see lots of models, actresses and influencers sharing their coming out on social media. It’s a beautiful thing and gives others someone to look up to. Personally there’s still an epidemic of trans women facing high rates of violence and homicide. We need to do more to keep them safe and prosecute their attackers. Hate crimes are crimes.
We also need to keep fighting for our rights against all the latest anti trans bills sweeping our county. This is 2021 not 1950. These bills are built around fear, hate, ignorance and the desire to erase a marginalized population with the goal to create division. It’s sad and wrong. We will not be erased. What we have is medical not political. This is someone’s true identity. You can’t take that away or change it.

"I absolutely love fashion. To me it’s more than clothes."

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Aleks: I absolutely love fashion. To me it’s more than clothes. It’s a form of comfort and self-expression. For years prior to my transition I’d secretly look at fashion magazines and admire all the beauty and unique clothes. I was a former male model for a short period of time and was always jealous of what I saw the female models wearing. But I knew once I started my gender transition I’d have no issue finding cute clothes to fit my tall 6’1 petite frame.
My all time favorite store is Alice Olivia by designer Stacey Bendet. Her clothes are so beautiful with fun, flirty, unique patterns and prints. The quality is extremely well mags which represents the high price tag. They do have good sales so I snatch an outfit or two when I can. I can’t really describe my style in one word other than bright and fun.


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

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