Saturday, 4 September 2021

Interview with Zeline Del Rosario

Monika: Today I am talking to Zeline Del Rosario, a former member of Mezzrow, a thrash metal band from Nyköping in Sweden, and a transgender woman that documents her transition on social media. Hello Zeline!
Zeline: Hello there, Monika.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Zeline: As you have said I’m a transgender woman from Sweden, I’m 54 years old and happily married. I’m a parent to two children, my daughter is 15 and my son is 23 years old. 
I came out very late officially, on October 7 last year, actually on Facebook. Although I came out late I have been trans for the whole of my life and only a few people around me knew some parts of my truth. They thought I was only crossdressing and they knew I went to clubs in Stockholm in the late ’90s and the early 2000s.
Monika: Why did you choose Zeline for your name?
Zeline: It was my daughter that came up with that name and I really like it. I feel very comfortable with that name. I tried different names during the years but I never felt comfortable with the names I used to have but Zeline is really the name for me.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Zeline: I am bipolar and when I get my ups I can be very social, and I had that mood when I dropped the coming-out post on Facebook. I had this feeling for a long time that I just had to tell people who I am really, so I can live my life as the real me and I do not have to hide all the time. So I’m really happy that I finally did it. I think it was my bipolarity that made me strong enough to do it and after that, I just keep going on.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Zeline: I really don’t get too many questions from my followers. It’s mostly men trying to get in contact with me, and I’m not interested in that. I don’t use Instagram as a dating site and like I said I’m already married.

"I have been very lucky that way and all my friends
and working friends accept me and support me in
my transition"

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?
Zeline: I have been very lucky that way and all my friends and working friends accept me and support me in my transition, of course. I can see that some people do not talk to me so much anymore but that’s their problem, not mine. I have all the closest friends with me, and that is what counts. My kids are so understanding, accepting, and supporting that it is also a big relief.
The ones struggling hard to accept me are my brother, father, and aunt unfortunately but I guess they need a lot more time to handle this. My mother passed away when I was 17 but I guess she would have been more understanding, at least I like to think so.
Monika: How was the trans community in Stockholm in the late 90s? Which clubs were most popular?
Zeline: The trans community in whole Sweden is pretty small, I think, and back then it was not big at all. There were only a few clubs in Stockholm that were for open-minded people and there wasn’t any real trans club. Most of the time you saw the same trans persons that you met before.
There was a club called Kinks and Queens that was the best place for trans people in my opinion but after some years they had to close it down, unfortunately.
There were also some smaller private clubs that arranged parties only a couple of times a year. We also had a couple of clubs mainly for gays and lesbians but we as transpersons weren’t really welcomed at these clubs.
Sometimes we went to the well-known clubs, which was quite fun. We were mostly accepted there and even there was a very long queueing line outside the bodyguards let us pass through and get in before all the others, so I guess they wanted to spice up the place a little.

"I can see that some people do not talk to me so
much anymore but that’s their problem, not mine."

Monika: You also played the guitar in a thrash metal band...
Zeline: Yes I did, that’s also a big reason why I came out so late. I was passionate about music and playing music when I was young. We used to go to many concerts and listen to a lot of music, in the ’80s and ’90s my life was all about music, especially metal and thrash metal. 
Anyway, I and some friends started a band together without even any music skills to play at first. We tried out different kinds of members during the way and the more we played the better we got.
In 1987 and 1988 we released 2 demo tapes and sent them around to different record labels and finally, we got signed for a record deal in 1989. The band was called Mezzrow and the album "Then Came the Killing". So, that was some kind of double life, being a cool tough thrasher along with my softer side as transgender.
It was also a struggle within myself because I really loved the time I was in a band and I also had that feeling inside me that I wanted to let the real me out so much more.
I can also add that the other reason I came out late was that I got kids, the first one in 1998 and the second in 2006. So, at that time, I took my role as a parent, the father role, and all over again the real me had to step aside for another 15 years.
My life has surely been hard and I have struggled in two worlds and finally, I reached the point where I felt I would explode if I didn’t do something about the situation. So as late as last year in October I dumped everything about me in a Facebook post, and I’m so happy that I did that because now my life is like it was meant to be.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Zeline: If you are in your 50s like me it’s very difficult to have the body look more feminine but my skin is much smoother and softer now, so that’s it for me. And I have no plans to do a bottom surgery, so the estrogen and testosterone blockers are more of a negative thing for me but that’s what HRT does, unfortunately, so I have to accept all the risks.
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?
Zeline: For all of us that are older, it is more difficult to pass as women and especially if someone is tall like I am. The only thing to do is to believe in yourself, try to be strong enough to go out in public. It’s hard and scary, and I know that but every time you do it the easier it’s going to be.

"It was also a struggle within myself because I really
loved the time I was in a band and I also had that
feeling inside me that I wanted to let the real me
out so much more."

Nowadays if you start your transition at a young age, it’s much easier I think because almost everyone I can see looks like a girl and it’s impossible to see they are something else. It is also a much more open-minded society now than it was when I was young, so we’re heading in the right direction in most of the countries anyway, but it’s still quite a road ahead.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Zeline: The first role models I ever saw were in porn movies. There weren’t any other places to see them back then, not in Sweden anyway, and there was no Internet, no social media, etc.
I had some role models from the movies but it’s a long time ago so I don’t remember their names. I follow many trans now on the net and almost everyone can be my role model but I have to accept the fact I’m not young anymore, so I’m just trying to be the best version of myself.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Zeline: It must have been in the porn movies that I talked about before. I can’t remember I saw anyone on TV. The first time I met a real transgender woman must have been in the clubs where I used to go out in Stockholm. It was around 1985 when I saw a movie with a transgender actress on TV for the first time.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Zeline: I think the transgender phenomenon is still very rare in Sweden and you usually don’t bump into anyone who is transgender. I know we have a transgender community here but I can only see them on the Internet.
I live in a small town so I don’t really know how it is in Stockholm right now. I guess there are some transgender women there but not too many I guess. The situation in the other bigger cities in Sweden such as Gothenburg and Malmö is the same. I wish the whole world had the same trans community as they have in Thailand or in the Philippines.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Zeline: Yes, I like fashion but I don’t follow all the trends so much. Since I live in Sweden I usually wear different kinds of dresses and shorts along with sandals, flats and heeled sandals in the summertime, which is pretty short here. In the autumn and winter, I wear jeans mostly and tops, t-shirts, long sleeves, jackets and coats, sneakers and boots. When it’s party time I usually wear something sexy, short dresses, leggings, sexy tops, and high heels. My favorite color is black, it’s always right but I try to buy other colors too.

"It’s always nice when people like the way I look, of
course. This means I’m doing a good job with myself
and it helps to boost my self-confidence too."

Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Zeline: The only time I’m experimenting with makeup is when I go to a party, otherwise I just do something easy. I have never sat at home just to practice my makeup and different styles but maybe I should have done it. I try to do my best only.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Zeline: It’s always nice when people like the way I look, of course. This means I’m doing a good job with myself and it helps to boost my self-confidence too. But on the other hand, if they don’t give me compliments I still know I’m doing my best given the available resources or money for me. I would do everything if I had more money as all these things are rather expensive.


All the photos: courtesy of Zeline Del Rosario.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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