Sunday 6 June 2021

Interview with Victoria Perera

Monika: Today we are going to Ontario in Canada, where my guest lives. Victoria Perera is a Serbian-born model, fitness instructor, and media influencer that shares her story on social media. We are going to talk about being trans and challenges related to her fascinating journey towards womanhood. Hello Victoria!
Victoria: Hello Monika. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to speak with you and share my story.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Victoria: I’m a 44 year old transwoman. I work as a residential appraiser near Toronto, Canada. I’m recently divorced and share custody of my two young boys with my ex-wife that we successfully co-parent. I would call myself a fitness fanatic and a very social woman who is always looking for a new challenge.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Victoria: It started out innocently enough. I joined Instagram because I was bored after my first facial surgery. It has become entirely different. After I started posting a few pictures, I found I was connecting and interacting with other transwoman who had similar stories. I was inspired by their transition stories and felt it was my responsibility to share mine as well. Before I had transitioned, I was a closed off person.
"I’m not a different person
I never shared my feelings and to be honest wasn’t even sure I was capable of emotions. Once I started transitioning, it was like the floodgates opened and I felt this flood of them. Sharing my story helped me process those feelings but I started getting messages from other transwomen and even other people. They would say how I had inspired them to come out with my openness and authenticity. As a result, I promised myself to always be authentic and true in my posts. Show the good. Show the bad and also show the ugly.
Monika: I love your name. Why did you choose it?
Victoria: My name when I was pretending to be a male was Victor. Many transwomen call this their deadname. A few simple reasons first why I chose Victoria. It was easier for my friends to remember and it’s a beautiful name in and of itself. But the main reason is that it’s homage to Victor. I don’t see my life as an end with a new beginning so much as a continuation of my story.
I have brought many things from that life as Victor to this one. My kids who I have an excellent and loving relationship with. Friends, almost all of whom have stayed with me, and in some cases, we even got closer. My job, my parents, and in many ways Me. I’m not a different person entirely. I’m just finally allowing myself to be truly and utterly authentic without the constraints of society. It is truly a liberating and wonderful place to be. I get to bring the parts of me that were real and discard the cloak I wore to protect the parts that are now free to shine.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Victoria: I do get many questions and comments from followers and from others on Instagram and in general, they can be lumped into 3 categories. Compliments, lewd comments/pictures/videos of male genitalia, and the last category which keeps me on Instagram and posting.
The last category are the people who have told me that I have inspired them in some small way to live their lives authentically. I’ve had the privilege of having direct message interactions with a few individuals and talked them through many of the steps I stumbled through without a road map helping them navigate the sometimes tricky path with family, friends, and work/public life. This is where my journey gets really personally rewarding.
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 definitely feel like I did pay a price for living my authentic self but the losses pale so greatly in comparison to the losses I feared I would lose. I imagined losing everything. My wife, my kids, my friend, my family, my job, and my ability to live my life out in the real world. In reality, I kept all of my friends. My job is secure. My family has not embraced me, but are still in my life and love me, and my sister and I who were not on speaking terms for years reconnected as a result of me coming out and talking to her about it.

"The hormones work very slowly but continue to
work their magic for years."

Where I did lose was my marriage fell apart and as a result, I don’t have daily contact with my two young boys. On the brighter side, I still see them very often and the love we have for one another is exactly the same if not stronger as I am a much happier and better parent.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Victoria: The hormones work very slowly but continue to work their magic for years. I’ve been on HRT for just under two years and have seen many changes in that time. One of the best changes for me has been that I am perceived by others as being much younger than my actual chronological age.
Although I’m 44, I often pass for someone in my early 30s and when I was pretending to be a man, which was not the case. I have heard many transwomen say that we age in reverse. Overall I would say that hormones are magic and some of their most striking and beneficial effects have been on my emotional capacity and my psychological well-being.
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: This is an unfortunate reality as we live in a society that only sees a binary of men and women. As a result, we feel that pressure to conform, and many women, including myself, always feel this pressure even if it manifests itself subconsciously. The only solution I see is a higher degree of visibility of more gender non-conforming people. Also, I think education for everyone with respect to all of the differences that exist in our world. There is a massive range of greys between the black and white that society can see.

"I still see so many remnants of Victor in
me visually when I look in the mirror."

On a personal level though, I feel this pressure to be a “beautiful woman”. For me personally, this has been the most difficult thing to attain/feel. We are in some ways prisoners of our past as much as we are prisoners of society. I still see so many remnants of Victor in me visually when I look in the mirror. It reminds me that I’m not ever going to attain this goal that I so desperately seek. I hope counselling and time will help me to bridge this divide.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Victoria: I follow quite a few transwomen and a few in particular that really helped me see a possible happy future before I even started transitioning. Kayla Ward, Ariana Danielle, and Suddenly Samantha off the top of my head helped me immensely. These are intelligent, beautiful, and successful women who just happen to be transgender.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Victoria: The first person who really opened my eyes was Caitlyn Jenner and her interview on TV. She was the first person like me. She was married to a woman, athletic, had children of her own, and seemed masculine on the outside.
Before her, I felt most of the people who were trans were so different from me and I convinced myself I wasn’t trans as a result. For example, they had more feminine features and mannerisms. I felt like a robot and Caitlyn Jenner was the first one who really helped me connect my dysphoria and feelings of mind/body disconnect with the answer, that I was also transgender.

"I have always had an eye for
women’s fashion."

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Victoria: Canada is generally a mostly accepting and polite society. I live just outside the largest and most liberally minded cities in the country, Toronto. I have never had a negative experience out in public personally. My bottom surgery was paid for by the government and I don’t feel in any way harassed or marginalized.
In the same breath though, my experiences are not the only ones and I have heard from my trans sisters who also live in Toronto and Canada in general, that they have felt discriminated against and also have had negative experiences. There’s always work to be done and we must stay vigilant in staying visible and fight for our rights.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colours or trends?
Victoria: I have always had an eye for women’s fashion even when I was pretending to be a man. My mom was a very fashionable woman and I definitely have always just known what looks good instinctively. I can see a piece of clothing and see how it fits with other things almost like a puzzle piece. My favourite places to shop are thrift stores. I always feel like a treasure hunter and I have found designer items at a fraction of the cost of retail prices.
If I had to say what style I like best, I would say I really like a sophisticated look with an underlying sex appeal. Think of a really put together and sexy librarian. At the same time, I really like to wear sporty clothing and also can rock tight jeans, cons, and a t-shirt with the best of them. If I had to pick my favourite piece of clothing, a long snug pencil skirt would have to be it.


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

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