Monday, 20 September 2021

Interview with Samantha Pearsall

Monika: Today I would like to introduce to you Samantha Pearsall, an inspirational woman from Manchester, England. Samantha is a transgender educator, and speaker, known for her Deaf Transgender Awareness workshops. She is the author of "The Woman I Am: My Journey from Richard to Samantha", a biographical book that has been published recently and is available on Amazon. Hello Samantha, thank you so much for accepting my invitation!
Samantha: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Samantha: I was born profoundly deaf and grew up in the Northeast of England. I’m also a post-operative transgender woman, and now living in Manchester.
Monika: Your story was widely covered by the British media. Were you happy about the way it was done?
Samantha: Sometimes, it depends on the media. Most of the British media approached and check with me to ensure that the articles is correct etc. Whereas for some media, they’ve gone and created the article when the language appropriation can be incorrect at times.
Monika: Two months ago you published your book. What inspired you to share your experiences with others?
Samantha: I've decided to publish the book hoping to be able to support the deaf transgender community to let them know that they’re not alone. The journey, experience, and dilemma I have faced, have caused me to fight such a huge battle throughout my life. The roller coaster I have gone through, being deaf and transgender, resulted in a dual-discrimination. I’m in no position to be able to help everyone, but if I could change one person's mindset in the community and their perspective toward the transgender community in a positive way then I would be happy.

Available via Amazon.

Monika: Why did you choose Samantha for your name?
Samantha: I’ve asked my parents if I was born a girl what my name would be. They said it would be Samantha Jayne. So I stick with that because I believe it’s important to continue the bond I had with my parents.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Samantha: The most common question would be whether it hurts having the GRS. Sometimes the questions they ask can be quite sensitive, but I’m OK to respond to them because I’m in a position where I want to educate others. If I don’t answer, how are they supposed to learn?
Monika: I know myself how challenging it is to be a transgender woman. For you, it was even more challenging because you had to deal with being deaf. How do you recall your teenage years?
Samantha: My teenage years were a real struggle for me, experiencing a phase where I was totally confused with my life and what I wanted in the future. My depression was so severe that I had an eating disorder and I was chain-smoking. I was in a dark place for a long time until I reached my 20s.
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?
Samantha: The hardest thing about coming out was the thought of losing my family who I dearly love very much. I grew up with such a strong bond with my parents and my brothers and breaking that bond would break my heart instantly. However, I’m quite lucky that the bond remains there, and although the number of the deaf community is so small, it’s a well-knit community. Everyone tends to know each other.

"The hardest thing about coming out was the thought
of losing my family who I dearly love very much."

The hardest thing for me is how to have a thick skin when I watch others speaking in British sign language talking about my previous gender in a distance where I could easily see their sign language.
Monika: Were your parents and family surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Samantha: My family did struggle at first, they struggled with my transition as they felt they didn’t really have parents' support in the United Kingdom. There’s no service that supports parents dealing with their children's transition. They had to deal with grieve seeing my transition as if they’ve lost their son. But having a new daughter, their coping strategy was to see me as a twin.
Monika: Interesting. How did you convince (educate) your parents about starting the transition as soon as possible? It is such a blessing to start hormone replacement therapy at a young age. 
Samantha: When I came out to my parents, they were very proactive in getting me seen by the specialist. They knew how unwell I was, with a weight loss, thinned hair, and I wasn’t mentally well. As soon I stepped my foot into the gender identity clinic, I never looked back. My life turned from the dark into the blossomed person I am today.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Samantha: I’m sort of 90% satisfied, the only thing that has bothered me most is that the facial hair is very difficult to get rid of 100%, especially with IPL and electrolysis, which still remains a challenge and it’s very costly.

"When I came out to my parents, they were
very proactive in getting me seen by the specialist."
Photo by @tonyjongphotography.

Monika: You look very feminine, so this question may not be relevant for you. 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?
Samantha: The most beautiful thing in this world is to teach to love yourself first before anything else. Yes, the term “passing” is known within the transgender community, but always remember that everyone is beautiful in their own ways. Always say to yourself, there is only one life and you have to live this life in order to fulfill your dream. Transgender individuals are doing this for themselves, for their own mental well-being, in order to be happy as much as possible in life. “You just be who you are”.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Samantha: I grew up struggling with my identity, and I never knew what transgender meant due to my deafness. I was living in a silent world. I watched TV one day - Big Brother, and Nadia Almada was on the show. I never knew what transgender meant until someone explained it to me in British sign language. One day, I bumped into a transgender person at Manchester Pride, and I knew instantly that It was the right decision for me to transition as I’ve struggled with my identity for a very long time.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Samantha: Laverne Cox is a good one for me due to being able to show the world that there’s no barrier. Keep on achieving, it’s shown that if you’ve got the dream you can achieve it.

"We are still facing transphobic issues but
people across the UK are becoming more
forward-thinking about diversity."
Photo by @tonyjongphotography.

Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Samantha: We are still facing transphobic issues but people across the UK are becoming more forward-thinking about diversity. While the public is heading in the right direction, it feels like the UK and US Governments are going backwards from time to time.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Samantha: I love fashion, my favorite clothes to date are probably from ASOS or ZARA. I like smart and trendy clothes. There’s no particular color or trend I like, apart from that fact it’s got to look cute!
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Samantha: I always experiment with lots of different types of makeup, there’s a time where I apply better makeup products, which are sometimes cheaper and long-lasting.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Samantha: I am really bad for taking compliments. I don’t take compliments very well and that’s my weakness!! :)
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Samantha: Yes, very clear. It was somewhat a positive experience for me as I was offered the job on the same day.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Samantha: Never give up, and the best tip is to ask someone you know to see if you can put your foot in the door in order to get into employment.

"I would like to be able to set up a charity
organization that represents deaf transgender
people worldwide."

Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Samantha: Yes, I’m currently teaching transgender workshops for professionals and anyone who’s keen to learn more about what’s under the term of the transgender umbrella.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Samantha: My partner and my family are one of the most important things in my life right now.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Samantha: I would like to be able to set up a charity organization that represents deaf transgender people worldwide.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Samantha: Never be afraid of the transition, the pain is bearable. You’ll never look back once you’ve transitioned, this is because you’ll become your true self.
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?
Samantha: Absolutely, there is no limit with our potential in life.
Monika: Samantha, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Samantha: You are welcome and thank you for giving me the opportunity also.

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

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