Friday 16 July 2021

Interview with Sarah Wolf

Monika: Today I have the pleasure and honor of interviewing Sarah Wolf, an American business consultant, businesswoman, and transgender woman from Seattle, Washington, that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Sarah!
Sarah: Hi Monika. Thank you for the opportunity to chat about my background.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Sarah: Well, I grew up in Colorado and Nebraska and have lived all over the US, but for the last 20 years I have lived in Seattle, Washington. I also work as a business consultant along with running a small business on the side.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Sarah: I have always been open about my experience and having transitioned nearly twenty years ago, I wanted to offer my perspective on life and the experience of being a transgender woman who transitioned before the advent of social media.
Monika: Why did you choose Sarah for your name?
Sarah: I don't remember the specifics, other than I had a list of names I liked, and honestly I didn't know anyone in my life named Sarah, so that helped narrow down the selection.

"I didn't lose very much when I came out."

Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Sarah: No, not really. I get a few random questions now and then, but I have never received questions when I post an AMA on my Instagram. People seem more interested when I pose musical questions or tell me their favorite songs. I guess people just don't really feel I have much to offer since I transitioned so long ago.
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?
Sarah: Honestly, I didn't lose very much when I came out. I feared the worst, like losing my job and family. But really I only lost touch with one of my younger sisters. While we did not speak for over a decade, we have recently started reforging our relationship. On the other hand, I did get a divorce, but quite frankly, I don't think we should have been married in the first place.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Sarah: Yes. I have been on HRT since 2002. I have absolutely no complaints.
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?
Sarah: I have always been out and never tried to "blend in". I attribute that to being tall and having a deeper voice. But I feel that it is more important to be a positive role model for my community. To be out and visible is the only way we can build a world that is accepting of everyone who is trans, non-binary, or elsewhere on the gender spectrum. This is the only way we can make a better world for those who come after us.

"To be out and visible is the only way we can build a world
that is accepting of everyone who is trans, non-binary,
or elsewhere on the gender spectrum."

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Sarah: When I transitioned, I had the honor of meeting some wonderful transwomen who helped me to believe it was possible to actually transition, women like: Andrea James, Calpernia Addams, Dana Beyer, and Donna Rose to name a few.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Sarah: I met Caroline Cossey at a book signing of her memoir "My Life" when I was living in Atlanta back in 1991. She was the first out trans person I had ever met. And until that moment, the transition had always seemed like an impossibility to me. She had grace, poise, and beauty I never thought possible. But at that time, there were no positive portrayals of trans people in the media. While there were many trans people back then, there were very few that were out, and if they were out, they did not live or move through the world that I lived in. The world has certainly changed today.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Sarah: We have come a long way in terms of recognition and acceptance in the broader cis-community. Both trans men and trans women have made remarkable strides in society, but through these advancements, there has also been negative recourse. Most notably the slate of anti-transgender legislation that we are currently seeing in local statehouses across the United States and countries around the world. These laws are a direct result of the advancements we have made.

"We have come a long way in terms of recognition
and acceptance in the broader cis-community."

Unfortunately, the trans community is still a focal point for the religious right-wing around the world. I believe that we will overcome this and these laws will ultimately be overturned or fail to be enacted because we are winning the hearts and minds of our friends and neighbors. It is hard to hate someone you know, and once we are no longer the "scary others" and we become "friends" and "neighbors", we will finally find our place in society.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Sarah: I am the most non-fashionable person you will ever meet. I wear jeans and a t-shirt all the time. I guess you can take the girl off of the farm, but you cannot take the farm out of the girl. :)
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Sarah: I rarely wear makeup. If I do it is only on my eyes and that is rare these days.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Sarah: I am very self-deprecating. If people compliment me in person, I tend to make light of it. It is sort of a defense mechanism. However lately, I have gotten better at just saying thank you and smiling.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Sarah: Actually I don't because it was so long ago. It was also several years after I transitioned.

"Being trans is no different than being any other
underrepresented minority."

Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Sarah: It is basically the same advice I would give anyone looking for a job. Be professional, be respectful, and remember that your transition or the fact that you are transgender has no place in the interview. The fact that a person is trans should have no bearing on their qualifications as a valuable addition to any company.
Also, being trans is no different than being any other underrepresented minority, so basically it has no place being a topic of conversation during the interview process. Should an employer have a problem hiring a trans person, I would question whether or not it is a company that would be a good place to work. There are thousands of companies out there who value their employees regardless of who they happen to be. You do not need to work for a company that does not value you as a person.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Sarah: Somewhat, but not as much as I used to be. About 16 years ago I was on the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. It was an honor to serve and I hope I help out in a small way.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Sarah: Love is important and to me finding a partner who both compliments, stimulates, and excites you is what love means to me.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Sarah: I have definitely thought about writing a book, but I am not interested in memoirs. I have read many and honestly, I do not think I can add anything to the conversation. If I write a book it will be some sort of fantasy or sci-fi book. That is what interests me. 
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Sarah: Well I recently started a small candle-making business. I am still working on launching it. My goal is to build a small business that will provide me some work as I transition into retirement. I love making things and am very excited about this new venture.

"Transition is not quick and it takes years to go into
yourself. Be patient and you will reach your dreams."

Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Sarah: Make sure that you feel safe and supported before you transition. It can be scary and your path will not be the same as anyone else. My advice is to trust yourself and believe that you can make it. Transition is not quick and it takes years to go into yourself. Be patient and you will reach your dreams. 
Monika: My pen friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Sarah: Not every trans person wants or seeks out surgery. Sometimes just living free to express their gender in their own way is enough. There is no right or wrong way to be trans. We each have our own path that we need to navigate. So reaching your dreams is done by addressing the issues that make you unhappy. Once you can be happy with yourself, that is all that matters.
Monika: Sarah, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot! 
Sarah: It was my pleasure. Thank you, Monika.

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

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