Friday 10 September 2021

Interview with Dimitria Sparrow

Monika: Today I would like to present to you Dimitria Sparrow, a Canadian makeup artist, and beauty vlogger. Her YouTube vlog provides trans women and crossdressers with beauty knowledge about makeup, fashion, etiquette, as well as transition challenges. Hello Dimitria!
Dimitria: Hello, Monika! Thanks so much for having me!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Dimitria: I’m Dimitria, I make beauty videos on the Internet. For some reason, I have a vanilla look right now while still being the angsty and neurotic girl everyone knows and tolerates LOL.
Monika: You uploaded your first video to YouTube in June 2020. What inspired you to start your vlog?
Dimitria: Transitioning in itself is very difficult, and presenting feminine is just as hard. Here I was at 19 with no idea how to do makeup, feminize my voice, tuck, or pick out breast forms for myself. It was so intimidating and overwhelming that I decided to educate myself on everything I wanted to know in feminizing my appearance. I wanted to give like-minded people this knowledge to where transitioning on the outside is exciting rather than scary, to alleviate dysphoria and prove that the perfect image of yourself is more than possible.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Dimitria: I get minor questions here and there so far, but frankly I get responses from my audience on their struggle with makeup or tucking. What’s worked for them and what they could relate to in the video, which is always a ton of fun to read. I get questions from closeted trans people either seeking advice or just looking to talk, which humbles me deeply. Sometimes they’re a lot older than me, which makes it difficult to give authentic advice, but they tell me they just need someone to talk to about these things without fear of consequence, and so I’m glad I can at least do that.

"I want my channel to be the go-to destination for
trans women and crossdressers to get started on
their journey."

Monika: YouTube is full of vlogs about fashion and beauty. Have you found your own niche that allows you to present something that the other vlogs have not covered yet?
Dimitria: I want my channel to be the go-to destination for trans women and crossdressers to get started on their journey. While these subjects and products have been covered before on YouTube, my goal is to make mine the clearest, thorough, and entertaining out there. As long as someone watches one of my videos and comes out of it going, “I now know my options for skirts/tucking/breast forms. I know where I can start,” then that’s more than I could hope for.
Monika: Why did you choose Dimitria for your name?
Dimitria: Guess what my given name is. Yeah, I’m that lazy! I get deadnamed unintentionally because people forget the ‘a’ I added at the end! Good on me!
Monika: What are the most common mistakes that we transgender women make in clothing?
Dimitria: The most common is cheap and/or mismatching outfits. I think we all had a girl friend or female family member who lent us their older wardrobe to get us started, however, I suggest getting out of wearing stuff like this for too long. It’s worn, usually cheap, likely doesn’t fit you properly, and they’re a hodgepodge of clothes that were probably meant to go with a complete outfit once. Mismatching outfits, colors that don’t go together, and cheap material can actually clock you; it literally looks like you put on a random set of women’s clothes. I’d opt for a complete outfit that works, that is new, with accessories to complete the look: earrings, jewelry, styled hair, scarves, etc. Without accessories, there’s a rushed quality to the look, a, dare I say, “man who through on a dress” look.
Monika: And in makeup?
Dimitria: I’d say lacking prep/skincare. Not setting makeup with anything, leaving thick foundations and concealers wet and shiny. Wearing too much makeup tends to clock you very easily. I found whenever I tried to put foundation on a day after shaving, it NEVER worked out. Trying to get away with that isn’t possible, I would shave every time before you put on makeup. Maybe putting too much foundation on where it coats your eyebrows and lashes, which gives a ghostly appearance. I’ve done all of these (maybe I still do LOL) and so that’s how I know.

"Transitioning in itself is very difficult, and presenting
feminine is just as hard."

Monika: You did a lot of videos about voice feminization techniques. Some ladies opt out for surgery as the most effective way of voice feminization. What is your view on the surgery versus feminization techniques question? 
Dimitria: So I saw a speech therapist to feminize my voice. I did the barebones way — and it worked. I’m barely clocked anymore. I’m not overly familiar with voice feminization surgery, but it appears to be ideal if you can afford it. It seems there are a few methods, one shortens the vocal cords and one is where the laser is used to tighten them. You’d have to see a speech therapist to use your new voice properly, as I imagined, to learn articulation, phrasing, and speech rate.
So surgery seems to aim for fixing pitch, but the pitch isn’t the whole 9 yards of feminizing your voice. I had to learn almost a new language, it felt, trying to sound feminine. Thoroughly. And so when I speak, my pitch is way up, but the WAY I speak is more feminine, as I’ve learned and practiced too.
The issue with full speech therapy is practicing every day for two years is very tedious, and the cost, in the long run, is just a little bit less than getting the surgery done. Would love to look into voice feminization surgery further someday, though!
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? 
Dimitria: Fortunately, I’m extremely lucky. Most of my family members were supportive, I transitioned I think at a good decade for LGBTQ rights, and lastly, I transitioned as an adult. Being an adult, I found I had way more freedom and my journey was a lot smoother. In my current job, I was hired there when I was getting to be more passable, and so employment hasn’t been affected, which I’m extremely grateful for.
The hardest was coming to grips with certain family members and processing a mountain of shame, self-loathing, and acceptance of my sexuality. These I still deal with every day, and I don’t have them all figured out, however, I’m way ahead of the hole I was in.
Monika: Were your parents surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Dimitria: They were surprised! My childhood was quite boyish, and I was always interested in girls. Acting or doing anything feminine was out of the question. I was so afraid and feared embarrassment if anyone found out what I was hiding. They didn’t suspect it because I only did girly stuff when it was socially acceptable or when I wrote myself in female characters in whatever story I wrote.

"To some people, when you’re trans, you’ll never be
good enough or whole enough no matter how
you look..."

As of now, the three of my parents are quite accepting. Not at first, and it didn’t help that I was in a deep depression at that time, which I think discourages the support as it seems like another wrong choice or bad idea; the cherry on top if you will. But now they see I’m happy, stable, and can support myself, so perhaps they’re thinking “What do I have to worry about here?” I’ll also point out one of my parents is gay and brought me to the village in Toronto upon my transition, and, looking back, it means the world they did that for me.
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?
Dimitria: Not to say this never affects me as it does — the only thing we can do is search for approval from ourselves rather than wait for society to accept us. Transphobia isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. To some people, when you’re trans, you’ll never be good enough or whole enough no matter how you look; furthermore, sometimes WE believe we will never be valid enough. But I’d say it’s far easier to have tolerance for yourself rather than wait for everyone else too.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Dimitria: I’d say I always looked up to Natalie Mars aesthetically. I was always astonished she was originally male, and so she was always a hope that one day, how I feel on the inside could match the outside. Secondly, I’d probably put Contra Points. I admire her production value, and she really seems to get what other trans women are thinking.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Dimitria: If I recall correctly, the first trans person (or en femme AMAB) I met was sometime when I was ten or eleven, and to be honest, I was weirded out. It’s hard to understand this now, but the word transgender was unheard of, and in media, a crossdresser was considered the butt-end of a joke. They were silly, for laughs. At this time, when I was understanding my sexuality and identity, I knew it deviated from anyone else my age, and there wasn’t something to name it or describe it. So it’s possible that whenever I saw someone like this I couldn’t understand them. They didn’t fit anywhere, and the world told me these people were odd and looked down on. So even trans people need to be educated at a younger age in order to understand and accept themselves, as well as other trans people.

"The hardest was coming to grips with certain family
members and processing a mountain of shame,
self-loathing, and acceptance of my sexuality."

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Dimitria: Compared to the US I like to think Canada is much further ahead in our progress of LGBTQ rights. It seems sex education is very behind, and when I was more clockable as trans I dealt with much harsher comments and ridicule. Whether clockable or unclockable, I now feel unsafe walking alone at night.
There are still problems concerning the bathroom issue, bigoted families, education, some religious groups, and assault that need to be continuously worked on in Canada. However, I am extremely happy to live in Canada as a queer person in comparison to other parts of the world.


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

Dimitria's YouTube vlog.

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