Thursday 30 September 2021

Interview with Ceecee Jacobsen

Monika: Today I have invited an absolutely inspirational woman from the Faroe Islands, a set of small beautiful islands about halfway between Norway and Iceland. Ceecee Jacobsen is a coach and public speaker, social media influencer, model, and transgender activist. Hello Ceecee! Thank you for accepting my invitation!
Ceecee: Hello Monika, thank you for that lovely introduction and for inviting me. The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 small islands. I’m from the one called Eysturoy, which means East Island. There is no West Island and East Island actually not particularly eastern if you take into account that six other islands are further east, but there you go. There’s probably a historical origin for the name that I have long forgotten.
Monika: This is what I have found on the Internet about the name Ceecee: "People with the name Ceecee are most often optimistic souls who have a genuine enthusiasm about life and the living of it. They are generally charming, pretty easy-going, and are good conversationalists. Their ability to communicate often motivates and inspires others." Is it true in your case?
Ceecee: That would depend on where I am in my hypomanic/depressed cycle. While that was kind of a joke, it is also true that I do have a disorder mood that I am exploring with my psychiatrist. I would say I was born with such a passion and joy for life that was fuelled by wonder and ADHD and probably hypomania.
But honestly, hypomania - if that is what I experience - is my favorite state. I get the most done, I have the most self-belief, and I feel like life is the most magical when I am in that state. Aside from that, being a woman of trans experience, life has a tendency to rob you of joy. Of hope. Of anything good. At least in my case. But I regained it all and hope to keep it forever.
Monika: Is this why you chose this name?
Ceecee: I didn’t. Ceecee is my nickname. Cecilia is my name. I chose it because I wanted a name that invoked elegance, beauty, and grace. Ironically, Ceecee invokes none of those things, but it does embody the rest of me, somehow. The humor, the sarcasm, the irony, and the resilient person I had to develop on top of my sensitive “True Self”.

"Being a woman of trans experience, life has
a tendency to rob you of joy."

Monika: You seem to be a woman of many talents. Which vocation is your main one? 
Ceecee: Social media, currently. I’m actually working on a membership website for my followers. A safe space for me to share more and get personal with everyone and explore other types of content, such as videos detailing my transition, live streams, Q&As, advice videos, makeup and presentation, and even webinars, classes, and a podcast.
Pre-pandemic I did public speaking and that might make a return when being around each other isn’t tempting the Fates to cut our strings early. I might do the show on my upcoming platform, but I much prefer live shows. In any case, I love connecting with people and helping them see the beauty and potential I see in them.
The greatest gift is to be of service to others. In a life where I have so often questioned the point of me sticking around, every life impacted makes it seem like a good idea to stay. I have also worked with a young up-and-coming pop star for many years. He’s now signed to US major label Atlantic Records and I am so proud of him. 
Monika: Your website says that "Happiness is a choice, I made it and so can you". What does it mean to be happy for you?
Ceecee: I’m actually working on some changes right now to my website, so that might not stay for much longer haha! Happiness is a skill. Or a discipline made up of skills. It’s a philosophy, a way to approach life. I devised a system, a collection of skills, that I personally practiced to drag my way out of depression and misery. I will share it on my membership page, but ultimately it’s about improving your life by being a better person. Sounds so corny, but it will work for the people it will work for. Which so far has been many.
Monika: I have never been to the Faroe Islands but it is said to be a peaceful and beautiful place. It sounds like heaven for growing up. However, your teenage years were different. 
Ceecee: There are many reasons to love the Faroe Islands. It’s beautiful, safe, and family is everywhere. We have great social services, there are no homeless people, and there is a real sense of community and familiarity. However, I was the first trans person in my country. My religious, tiny country. And I was punished for it.

"I devised a system, a collection of skills, that
I personally practiced to drag my way out
of depression and misery."

Monika: Well, the title of "the first transgender woman in the country" could be a burden. How did you cope with this?
Ceecee: For a long time, I wasn’t sure. When I was at the deepest pit of depression a couple of years ago, I thought to myself: "how are you more miserable now than you were at 17?” My life was far worse as a child and teenager than it was at 23, so why was my mental health deteriorating? Over a long period of working on myself, I realized that while I certainly had some unhealthy coping mechanisms in my youth (numbing my emotions was a favorite), I had some that were very healthy and extremely powerful. Not only that but they could be universally applied. I realized that when I was younger, I practiced patience, positive intent, and above all kindness and forgiveness to those who harmed me.
After an emotional event, I grew very resentful of my “condition" (well, even more resentful, I should say), and I wanted it to go away. I was so tired of my entire identity being boiled down to this single part of me - the trans part. I lost my patience with people. I let anger fester in my spirit. And I chose to react and punish, rather than act and forgive.
Once I reconnected with my true spiritual way of being and employed a forgiveness/kindness-based way of approaching the world again, I began to heal. Other people may not deserve this of you, but you do. You deserve to be the best person you can be. You deserve to be who you would be if society didn’t try so hard to rob you of everything good inside you.
Monika: I went through your Instagram posts, and I was intrigued by one of your posts in which you describe yourself as "unlovable". Girl, you need some faith in yourself.
Ceecee: Hahaha, I remember writing that, but not why or in what context. I do sometimes feel that way, especially because of the many ways I am different and therefore difficult. It is... easier to not love me, I think. And so people don’t. Romantically, at least. Not anyone I’ve ever loved romantically. To be fair, I’m not sure I ever have. I have been in love once or twice, but I think that was mainly ADHD-induced hyper fixation caused by my understimulated mind finding something that gave it... well, stimuli.
Although, if I truly think about it, maybe I was in love once. I was 19 and he was 20. He hadn’t grown up in the Faroe Islands so he wasn’t aware that he was supposed to hate me or treat me like a worthless freak.. and so he didn’t. Not that I think he ever could, being the kind of man he is. He was the first person outside my close friends and family to treat me not just with kindness, but like I was... a person. He never made me feel different. No matter how crazy I was - and I was for so many reasons on so many levels. He was so patient, so... kind.
I get emotional just thinking about it, honestly. He was not in love with me, but he loved me as a person and most importantly, he didn’t make me feel like the worst thing that could happen to a man was to be loved by me. Because that is what I believed.

"I didn’t realize that a man could love me because
of who I am rather than in spite of it."

Monika: Did it change you?
Ceecee: I would sometimes imagine scenarios of someone falling in love with me, and I would... feel sad for them. I pitied the hypothetical man who would fall in love with a monster like me. I recently messaged him to apologize for my crazy hyper-fixated behavior and he just said “you have nothing to apologize for” and I know he means it. He has helped me in ways he cannot begin to fathom. Before I met him, I never knew I could be treated with anything but fear and revulsion when it came to love.
And it wasn’t until another man I met later in life that I experienced what it was to get to know me and find me more beautiful because of who I was, rather than in spite of it. He was beautiful, a model actually, and as our friendship grew I began to share what my life had been with him. After a particularly depressing recount of something that happened to me, he got very emotional and said “The fact that you have been through all of that and are still you, makes you more beautiful than anything else”.
It was the first time a man had ever expressed that what I am and what I had survived could make me more lovable, more.. valuable. He was just a friend, but the notion that everything I was didn’t make me unlovable had never even occurred to me. I didn’t realize that a man could love me because of who I am rather than in spite of it.
Monika: I liked your video about facts and misconceptions of trans vaginas. I will never forget the curiosity of my cisfemale friends (and cismale ones too!) about my vagina after GRS. This topic will never stop generating interest in society, I guess.
Ceecee: I find that it’s usually the vulva that arouses curiosity. If only people were as interested in knowing about cisfemale reproductive and sexual health. Instead, it is ignored and made taboo, except when the government tries to control it.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Ceecee: Define “transition”. I only really medically transitioned. Socially I was never a “boy”. I have always been this way. I have always expressed what I am and never knew how to hide it or be different. Up until I was 12, my mother forced me to present a certain way, but I let it be known that it was forced. I never agreed and my presentation didn’t mean that I ever participated in what “boys” did.
I began growing my hair out at 12 because for some reason my mother had decided 12 was the age I could do what I wanted with my hair and so I did. Makeup started soon after, so around the same time that other girls did. I wore tight clothing that always looked feminine on me because I was tiny.
There were many things I missed out on in life because I refused to be on boys' teams, so I avoided it. Swimming was mandatory in my school, but I skipped all swimming classes from around age 11. I think my teacher understood it because she didn’t report me.

"I have never had a male identity, I have never
presented as a man, I never participated
in male society."

I have never had a male identity, I have never presented as a man, I never participated in male society. So no, my family wasn’t surprised when I declared I was going to medically transition. My grandfather, an elder at his congregation, a very religious man said “I’ve been waiting for this since she was 2 years old”. They all knew. I had only ever been one way and none of them ever really treated me "like a boy”. I have been blessed with a family that loves me and accepts me.
That being said, my parents did not accept it easily. For most of my childhood and teens, my mother especially was deeply ashamed of me and often expressed she wished I was different. I didn’t feel comfortable at home until I was an adult. But luckily, it just goes to show that people change. My mother has joined me on stage to prevent other parents from making her mistakes and participates in events to support other parents of trans children. I’m not really sure how my dad felt about me as a kid. He didn’t express as much contempt for how I behaved as my mother did, and I have never feared his judgment the way I feared my mother’s. In any case, it doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is the now.


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

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