Thursday, 3 June 2021

Interview with Tori


Monika: Today’s interview will be with Tori, an American transgender woman that documents her transition on social media. Hello Tori!
Tori: Hi Monika! Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Tori: Well, I am a 27 year old proud transgender woman from the Midwest of the United States. I am a published model, advocate and educator!
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on social media?
Tori: Honestly, I did it for my own mental health. At first, it was a way to make myself feel “valid” and “accepted” on a random social media platform; but it very soon became something more. When I was deep in the closet; suppressing and denying myself, I saw ALL these transwomen on social media and I so wanted to “BE THEM” but it seemed so incredibly impossible.
And it mainly seemed so impossible because I never had anyone to learn from or get any guidance or support from; I was written off very quickly by everyone whom I reached out to. Very quickly, my transition became something I wanted to share with those who felt like it was impossible; like “they couldn’t” but I was bound and determined to share with them; YOU CAN.
"They usually compliment
me profusely."
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Tori: Honestly, I do. But it’s taking the time to weed through and find the genuine souls that are wanting “help” that is the most taxing. My DMs and Messages are FILLED with creepy dudes and explicit material and I REALLY find it quite frustrating; but I do what I can. They usually compliment me profusely (which is sweet, but isn’t needed) and then usually ask how long I’ve been on HRT/what my exercise/diet consists of/If I’m still with my S/O from prior to transitioning/religious questions - pretty much everything that *I* was curious about before transitioning.
The hardest thing for me, if I’m being honest, is talking to anonymous accounts. When I get messages from anonymous accounts, it’s very difficult for me to interact with them because I’ve been burned so many times by creepy dudes posing as questioning souls; under an anonymous account. That’s the true tragedy for me.
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered?
Tori: That I answered? I usually vet every message I get; I don’t accept all of them. So I have a slough of verbose and quintessentially *strange* questions I get regularly; but I guess it would probably have to be an Anon account posing as a questioning soul; then later asking me to be a part of their and their significant others three-some. Blech.
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?
Tori: Ah yes, the Aftermath question. I’ll be completely forward and honest here; I am blessed and fortunate to say that I did not experience much “loss” through my coming out and transitioning. I know that isn’t normal or the narrative; and I’m grateful every day for that. That being said, the most significant loss I suffered was the sudden and violent reaction of my former gay best friend of 8 years.
Long story short; I came out to him before anyone else, thinking it would be “safest” and what I was met with in return was malice, confusion, and anger. He proceeded on this tirade of “you’ve lied to everyone. You’ve lied in our friendship. You’ve lied in your s/o’s relationship. You’ve lied to the faces of everyone you came in contact with. I can never trust you again.” It was the longest, most hurtful separation I’d ever experienced; and we weren’t even dating!
Along with the loss of him, my step grandmother as well; very conservative, very religious; she will not speak or see me to this day. Her last words to me were “you’re delusional and you will burn in hell for choosing to live this way. You are the reason grandpa's health is failing.” I live with that every day.
"Everyone’s journey with hormones
is vastly different."
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Tori: I am. And that’s honestly the hardest thing for me. Everyone’s journey with hormones is vastly different and I am so very fortunate for the results I have had in such a short amount of time (19mo) I am very impatient though, and I’m constantly trying to remind myself to “trust the process” and exercise patience. It’s sometimes quite difficult to gauge one's effects with HRT because we are so close to the subject - seeing ourselves every day.
I medically transitioned quite differently than others; I started immediately with injectable estradiol and did not use spiro at all. So it was just an immediate high amount of estrogen that was being injected and overall, my body has feminized well. Still working on where I want to be, but I’ve been satisfied with my HRT journey, thus far - and I’m excited for the future!
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?
Tori: This is very true; and unfortunately this is the end all be all for a lot of individuals. As a predominantly passing trans woman, I don’t want to speak about how it feels to “be misgendered in public or treated differently” because I’ve been fortunate enough to pass in my small town life. I would say how one can “cope” however is to turn to self-care. Diet, exercise, spirituality. I find it helpful to take things you are insecure about and work on them in order to “overcome”. If you’re not good with makeup/hair; get better! Take the time to learn.
Everything I’ve learned is from YouTube - in this day and age, it’s possible to learn anything! When it comes to posture and prose, study other women and emulate them. These are just some ways I’ve personally coped when I first came out.
Monika: And passing?
Tori: I guess the “passing privilege” comes from a societal pressure that we as transgender individuals place on ourselves to alleviate dysphoria and or assimilate into society. I’m just cosmetic surgeries can help so much however a lot of people get stuck under the knife, like they feel like they can’t do anything but continue to alter their body via plastic surgery. This usually ends up only further perpetuating the dysphoria and in turn, ruining one's self-image to become something completely unnatural. Whereas I am personally still struggling with the idea of passing a non-passing; my best advice it’s to take steps to take care of yourself whether that be physically, emotionally or spiritually.
I personally find a lot of solace going for long walks by myself to reflect on what’s going on in my life, be thankful for what I have and focus on my goals ahead. When I started transitioning, I changed my whole life around when it came to the food that I ate and the exercising that I did and I don’t want to go back - I found such a piece in my exercise routine and feeling so much better with how I’m eating and taking care of my body and using self-care and I recommend it for everyone.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Tori: oh tons of than absolute tons of them I don’t even know if I can put them all down in this format. I saw that you actually interviewed one of mine - Tula Caroline Cossey.
When I was little and trying to figure out myself who I am I would see videos about Christine Jorgensen and Aleshia Brevard. But as I got older being trans became more relevant than so I was inspired by Carmen Carrera, Cassandra Cass, Maria Roman, Erica Andrews, Sonique Love and Anna Mancini - eventually becoming inspired by a slew of younger girls transitioning on YouTube; La Demi, Nikita Dragun, Elena Genevienne, and Gigi Gorgeous.

"When I started transitioning, I changed my whole life around."

But the hardest thing for me with the younger girls is that they were younger than me but still following through and transitioning out a younger age; so in the end they made me feel like I missed out or I was left behind because I felt like I grew up with them yet they still transition at a younger age and I just watch that happen instead of actually going through with it myself. So the younger girls aren’t so much “role models” as they were inspirations to ACTUALLY transition.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Tori: Growing up in the 90s, I didn’t really have access to anything LGBTQ in my hometown. The only exposure I had was the talk shows which SLAMMED trans women; publicly misgendering them for shock value; and it only perpetuated my internal dialogue of how “fucked up” I was in my head. Growing up, the most prevalent thought in my head was “why am I so different? Why am I not like the other boys'' I will always say that the only thing I used Google for was searching “why do I feel like a girl? Why do I want to be a girl? I am a girl, trapped in the wrong body”.
As I grew older, I discovered YouTube and Male to Female transformations and was innately inspired by those. I found some (now very famous trans women) who I essentially felt I grew up with, following them on YouTube and they have always inspired me. They were really my first “exposure” to understanding myself. I was able to see and hear things that aligned with my innermost self; which I hadn’t even considered before in my life - I just believed I was truly truly messed up as a kid.
"The “passing privilege” comes
from a societal pressure."
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Tori: Well my immediate reaction is to say “good”. But that’s coming from a very blessed and fortunate white transgender woman who has been able to keep most of her relationships, her family and most importantly, her career/job. I know that’s not the case; at all, for all my sisters. I make no light point that I’m very fortunate, in that regard.
I will say however, although yet another transgender woman’s death is one death too many; on the whole, I feel like the situation in our country and the world is ever so slightly, improving. That could possibly ruffle some feathers; but in the grand scheme of things, I think the trend is definitely upwards. This new generation of individuals; I know several trans girls who are in middle school/high school who get to live their lives just like any other cisgender girl did in school.
Although I have a bit of envy for them, overall; I’m happy for them! It shows me the situation is DEFINITELY improving, and that makes my heart happy! Yes, we take steps back but hopefully it’s trending as more “two steps forward; one step back.”
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Tori: oh my gosh girl, that’s a LOADED question. I could totally go on forever about this. I’ll keep it short and concise though. I’m a 27 y/o old woman, who never got the chance to present as how I wanted to in my late teens/early twenties, so I’m doing what I can to make up for that. It’s winter now, so I’m obsessed with cute sweaters, French tucked, with a belt or any kind of outfit with a staple cardigan.
Also, I'm a teacher so I need to keep everything very PG (which isn’t my style usually). When I’m going out or partying, it’s always low cut tops, mini dresses, and/or crop tops. It sounds kind of skanky, but I assure you - I class it up. That’s my aesthetic, “bad bitch” but then you meet me and I’m actually not even close to what I give off! It’s a surprise! Lol I had to suppress myself MASSIVELY growing up; forced to wear clothes that made me just not care about myself or my body.

END OF PART 1

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

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