Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Interview with Mylee Blake

Monika: Today I have the pleasure and honor of interviewing Mylee Blake, an American immersive experience designer and experiential gender and sexuality coach from Colorado, the USA that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Mylee!
Mylee: Hello! Thanks for asking to interview me. I love sharing my story, as other trans women's stories helped me along the way through my transition.
Monika: What does an immersive experience designer and experiential gender and sexuality coach do? Could you say a few words about yourself?
Mylee: Well, as an immersive experience designer, I create worlds and stories for participants to explore, play, and transform their perceptions of "reality". As an experiential gender and sexuality coach, I sort of do the same thing, just with a focus on exploring one's gender and sexuality, with exercises, real-life games, and a little bit of active listening.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Mylee: OH! What a great question as I think about this a lot. I think I'm in the "inbetween" generation of trans girls. Where we had the Internet, (Thanks, Vicki Rene and your gallery of beauty), there was still a lot of sensationalist trans media out there (Jenny Jones, Maury, Sally Jessie, at least in the USA), so I wanted to share my perspective on the trans experience. We are all different and I figured my perspective might be valuable to others.
Monika: Why did you choose Mylee for your name?
Mylee: It's a nickname from my birth name, given to me by a friend I was nursing out of opiate withdrawal a few years ago. She made it out, still alive, but no other name I tried had stuck. I tried out, Veronica, Mara, Victoria, Bethany, Tara, none of them stuck or felt like me. Mylee did. :)

"The hardest thing about coming out was finding
my place. I always knew I was trans, I always
knew I was queer. I just didn't know where,
how, what that looked like."

Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Mylee: I actually don't. I'm not sure if it's my followers or if people think I'm not open or what, but no one really is reaching out to ask questions. I have a lot of conversations around support and the trans experience 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?
Mylee: Oh, well, my world has been interesting as I left home when I was 18, already able to support myself. My family is mildly accepting, but even before the transition, I was very different from them. They choose to live in a fear-based world, and I choose love. The hardest thing about coming out was finding my place. I always knew I was trans, I always knew I was queer. I just didn't know where, how, what that looked like.
My coming out process was over a decade because of it. Trying all different parts/roles/selves, till I found myself. The next hardest thing was figuring out how to transition through a career I had built as a male presenting person. Even working within film and television, which is an artistic industry and a bit more accepting than most, I was still so afraid of losing the experience and connections.
Monika: Were your parents surprised by your transition?
Mylee: Mom: "You didn't show any signs of this when you were younger, but eh, if you're happy." Dad: "So are you going to shove all this in our faces, wearing ball gowns everywhere?" My parents are divorced and have been since I was 3. I learned young, that I was a lot different from them, and needed to do what I could to create my reality outside of their worldview.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Mylee: Am I ever. My gender therapist told me, "Your body will know." and she sure did. It took a while for things to settle, but I'm really happy with where things are at. The most important change though, was my depression and anxiety going away. Of course, I still have the normal amount of anxiety for someone who lives in the USA.

"The most important change though, was my
depression and anxiety going away."

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?
Mylee: Just live your life. Basic humans will always have an issue with anyone who challenges their norms/belief system. The moment I stopped caring about passing as a woman and just focused on internal happiness, I started passing much more easefully. When the thought of "do they notice?" or "I look like a man to them" stopped being so dominant in my thoughts, the reflection became different.
I meditate a lot and focus on my structure and facial muscles. It might be delusional or wishful, but I feel like changing my own mindset has done a massive shift for me and the way I'm seen in the world. As we grow as a community, and more people step into being outside the known gender binary, the less I think the syndrome will affect us. Having half of a generation take on a "non-binary" self is going to change society in some incredible ways, and I can't wait.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Mylee: When I was a young person, trying to figure this out, there were only a few girls who were out and visible. I'm of the first internet generation, as I was 18 in 1994. I didn't really follow or reach out to anyone then. When I started posting on Instagram, I discovered a WHOLE world of girls who are sharing themselves and supporting each other. I don't have anyone specific that was a role model to me, but just seeing everyone in their fullest expression made them all my role models.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Mylee: First time I saw a trans woman on TV, was an episode of Donahue (an American daytime talk show). I think I was maybe 10 years old, and these girls were being confronted by their wives or partners about how terrible they were as people, how perverted they were, and how much they had ruined their partners lives. Not the best first example to help a young kid feel less awkward about their feelings. Yet, there was an undeniable connection to them.
The first trans person I met, was actually a trans man when I was just about to start college. Then as I explored the gayborhood of Chicago and its clubs, started meeting all sorts of queer and gender diverse people.

"I joke that transition for me was 30% about
internal congruence, and 70% about the clothes."

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Mylee: IMO, Humans want to destroy what they don't understand and fear. I think we are in a very special place in our cultural evolution where more and more people are embracing something outside of the gender binary. Because it's an evolution, those that are unable to evolve with it, will try and destroy it.
In the USA, it's mostly religious fanatics that are using a belief in "traditional bible" values to devalidate us. Politically, because most of those religious organizations have taken the last of their poor congregations' money to spend on lobbying to convince them to vote against actual freedom. I don't know, it's all pay for play out here and I'm just going to keep being me in places that haven't experienced many trans people, and maybe that will help.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Mylee: I LOVE fashion. Always have. I joke that transition for me was 30% about internal congruence, and 70% about the clothes. I love all sorts of outfits. You can usually find me wearing leggings and a nice top with boots, a low-cut dress with nylons and heels, or a pencil skirt and bodysuit. I have the body of my dreams and want to show it off. ;-)
I love nylons and tights and the way you can dress up or down an outfit and the way they feel. I'm glad nylons are back in fashion as a trend, rather than some patriarchal office requirement. I also love lingerie and dressing my body as the ornament it is. The freedom to embrace everything I want to, it's pretty awesome.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Mylee: Going through some old photos, I used to experiment a lot more with makeup *shrug*. I went through a phase of believing I "needed" it like most girls, and now I'm more in a place of "I don't need it, but I like it sometimes" I appreciate what HRT has done for me, and a little bit of face does go a long way. Thinking about it now, since I'm not currently working, I'll probably pull up a tutorial on YouTube and experiment. :)
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Mylee: I spent so much time in a male body being complimented (it turns out, I was a good-looking dude, even though I never saw it) on those looks and hated it. It's so validating now when someone compliments my outfit, or my eyes, or my body. I love myself, and love to get that reflection back through others. I've been praised all my life for my brains, so for me, it's nice to be complimented on my aesthetics and body.

"Having half of a generation take on a "non-binary"
self is going to change society in some incredible

Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Mylee: I have been at different times in my life, it sort of depends on where I'm living. I find that the communities are very varied, and sometimes, I am not into the drama they can carry. I've been lucky to cultivate a community of all sorts of people. I just moved to the Denver area, in the USA, I'm curious to explore and see what their community is like.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Mylee: What is love? Are we discussing romantic love or universal/unconditional love? Unconditional Love has always been my core way of being for myself and others. I am polyamorous and have loving relationships with several partners. But most of all, the place of that unconditional love is within. Once I understood how to love myself unconditionally, the rest of the world began to as well. Love can be difficult to find while trans, but it really starts with the self. 
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Mylee: I'm currently in the middle of it. :-) 250 pages in. Keeping my underlying topic under wraps, but my goal is to release on Mayday of next year. 
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Mylee: My next step with my transition would be to get a little FFS. My next step in my life is to continue to make impactful and transformative art and film experiences. I'm not one to project my goals that far into the future, because, well, life changes and the more open one is to possibility, the more life responds with things never thought possible. 
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Mylee: Just do it. Don't wait for the "world to be better" or "for my kids to be grown". Do it. The thoughts and desires won't go away. Don't create a life out of fear, create one out of love. Starting with yourself. Giving yourself the gift of authentic living is the best gift you can give yourself over your life. It won't be easy, but it will be rewarding.

"Just do it. Don't wait for the "world to be better"
or "for my kids to be grown". Do it."

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?
Mylee: Hell, no, we shouldn't. Not only do they not end on the table, but they also don't begin there either. We get to do anything we want, with or without surgeries. Well, maybe not in the UAE or the Middle East where we will still get murdered on sight, but almost everywhere else.
Monika: Mylee, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Mylee: Thank you, Monika. It's really wonderful for you to do this work. The varied stories and experiences of trans people are what other humans need to hear about, to help continued acceptance.

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

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