Sunday, 4 July 2021

Interview with Lucy Keogh


Monika: Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Lucy Keogh, an American tattoo and body artist from Spokane, Washington, and transgender woman that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Lucy!
Lucy: Hello Monika, thank you so much for inviting me, I am so honored and elated about this opportunity!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Lucy: Yes, I would love to. I am turning 32 years young this year, this year also is my 15th year of being a tattoo artist. I am super excited about that. I was born here in Washington but grew up moving around the PNW, spending the majority of time in Montana when I was younger. I moved to Washington in 2019 to start my medical transition, which I started on 25 September 2019, and I moved to Spokane in March of 2020.
I have been tirelessly working on getting established as a Reputable artist in the area, to eventually open up my own Storefront to do tattooing and sell merchandise. Specifically oriented to serving the LGBTQA+ community, as there is a very small presence for us in the tattoo industry here and I would love to change that.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Lucy: I wanted to share my story on social media for a couple of reasons, first off I wanted to connect and share support with other community members, but also to utilize the platform's abilities to network for business and visibility, not only as a self-employed artist but as a visible proud and thriving queer women of trans experience, to show that you can follow your dreams and ambitions, while still being true to yourself. Also as a side note, I wanted to use it as a scrapbook/timeline of my transition and progression.

"Tattooing really saved my life and gave purpose to
my closeted life."

Monika: Why did you choose Lucy for your name?
Lucy: I chose the name Lucy, which is actually short for Lucille. Because I love the show, "I love Lucy" and Lucille Desiree Ball was just such an elegant and beautiful example of free femininity to me that ever since I saw the show when I was young I wanted the name Lucille.
Monika: How did you develop your interest in tattoos?
Lucy: Honestly tattooing found me; when I went in to get my first tattoo the owner of the shop asked me to work for them, so I kinda fell into my lap and I just ran with it so to speak. I always enjoyed tattoos and art but never thought it would be something I would do until it chose me. I left home at 13, so had no direction or purpose and was quite the lost young one adrift in a consertive and highly religious anti-queer state. So tattooing really saved my life and gave purpose to my closeted life.
Monika: You are very brave in your self-expression. You did not hesitate before you had your face tattooed? This will stay forever on your face.
Lucy: Oh yes, I get that a lot. It's funny because I have never thought of myself as bold or brave and when I first tattooed my face it was less about expression and more about hiding, as I was not comfortable with my face and wanted to alter it in a way that I was more comfortable with.
Tattoos for me are a form of control, in life, I have always had little control or at least felt that way. You don't get to control where you are born, who you are born to, what you are born into, nor the body you are born into, so tattoos allowed for an escape of the out of control spiral, it allowed me to take control of the one thing in life that is truly mine, my Body.
For me, my tattoo is one of my most defining features and by far my most favorite, to not have my tattoos to me would be the same as losing who I am, they are so much a part of me that I view them in the same light as m freckles and moles, just another part of my skin.

"It was in some ways shocking to see how some
who so readily accepted my input and opinion
then immediately began to question or distrust
those very same inputs and opinions."

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?
Lucy: I have never been very close to my immediate family, leaving home at 13 I was separated and uninvolved with them for many years, so losing the couple that I did associate with wasn't too difficult as terrible as that sounds but they just always viewed me in a negative light anyway so we never really saw eye to eye on anything. Actually, it was a relief of burden to lose them as I felt exhausted constantly trying to convince them of the truth of my life and my validity.
I never had a lot of friends and didn't speak to many people in general, so not much loss there, although the few individuals around me, whom I was close to, have been the most amazing humans and are pillars in my life.
I have always been heavily tattooed and outside any social positions, so there was no loss there, although the tattoo industry being still very heavily male-dominated I did lose much credibility on certain of my proven abilities.
It was in some ways shocking to see how some who so readily accepted my input and opinion then immediately began to question or distrust those very same inputs and opinions. I also lost a large portion of my existing clients into which many just ceased to contact me any longer, a few did message stating their disgust in ever allowing me to tattoo them and would be removing/covering up said work.
On the other side of that coin though, I have gained twice the lost amount of clients with the most amazing and supportive LGBTQAI+ clients that I am so thankful to the cosmos for!! 
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Lucy: To be honest I have a simple rule with life and that is "Hope for the best, plan for the worst" so I didn't really try to build too many expectations around what the effects were going to be. So I am not going to lie, I set my bar pretty low, so far only being just under 2 years in I am beyond elated with the current effects and hold high optimism that I will get even a little more "softening" out of my HRT. The softness is my favorite part, I am so soft and I am obsessed with it!!

"Every generation of trans individuals before me
had to fight so hard for the things I sometimes
take for granted."

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?
Lucy: The way I cope with this is to simply try to just always remember the ones that came before me, I pull on their strength and determination. Every generation of trans individuals before me had to fight so hard for the things I sometimes take for granted. Those things inspire me to live loudly and proudly and stand tall everywhere I go, to hopefully inspire younger ones, like those before me inspired me!!
That dream and realization I think is the best coping mechanism, to know that everything you do, that every encounter and triumph makes it easier for each coming generation to live with and in a world of more loving and accepting humans.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Lucy: To be honest I can't say I specifically have any transgender role models, besides the many, many transgender men and women that came before me. As I previously stated, I feel like so many Transgender individuals before me deserve so much respect and admiration. I couldn't single out one that I would say is more than any other. Obviously, there are icons but also so many unsung heroes!!
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Lucy: So the first time that I saw a Transgender woman on TV was Lavern Cox in "Orange Is The New Black" but the first portrayal of a transgender woman on TV was in the movie "different for Girls" which was played by a cis man. So it was much later in life that I really saw a transgender individual that I felt a connection to.
I had briefly met several transgender individuals in my travels but only briefly in passing, as I was very closeted and not comfortable being open with anyone due to the particular situation I was in. The first transgender individuals I really got to know, were once I came out and started my Public medical transition.

"I am an irrational optimist, so I feel very
hopeful for transgender women's futures."

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Lucy: I am an irrational optimist, so I feel very hopeful for transgender women's futures. Albeit that the current situation is probably better than it ever has been, it is still several generations away from any of the transgender community being able to relax or breathe easily. Because even in the small community that we have in Spokane it is quite divided and in conflict with ourselves, until we can all stand together and be undivided there is still overwhelming amounts of work and advocacy that needs so desperately to be done. 
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Lucy: I absolutely love fashion hahaha how good I am at it, that is up for debate! I am obsessed with cottagecore aesthetic and I mean obsessed!! Ninety-nine percent of all my clothes fall into the cottagecore aesthetic. I don't do pants, that's my only rule, hahaha. Dresses, pinafores, skirts, jumpers for this girl. Warm tones like pinks, corals, oranges, and reds are the best on me as I have a light olive tone to my skin and lots of green tattoo work. 
I do almost all my shopping on SHEIN so their brand is probably my favorite, although the "wild fable" collection at target has so many amazing pieces. Though with the summer being here thrifting and yard selling are on, so that is where I find my hidden gems.

END OF PART 1

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

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