Saturday, 26 February 2022

Interview with Ellie

Monika: Today I have the pleasure and honor of interviewing Ellie, an American helicopter pilot, veteran, and transgender woman that shares her transition story on social media. Hello Ellie!
Ellie: Hey, it’s great to be able to share my story with everyone.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Ellie: I was raised up in the country, riding horses, helping out at my grandpa's ranch. I was always interested in the acceptable boy things like guns and sports. After high school, I joined the military and used my benefits once I got out to learn how to fly. I was a very successful helicopter pilot for three years until one day my fiancée was watching a video from one of the transgender YouTubers she watches and it planted a seed in my mind. So I looked into other transgender people's experiences and it became instantly clear that I have been ignoring all the signs from my past that I have always been transgender. I came out to my fiancée that day and everyone else within the week.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Ellie: Partly because of the fact that I was extremely lucky with my situation. My fiancée was so understanding and excepting. She was also professionally trained as a hairdresser and nail tech as well as being great at makeup and fashion. She helped me so much with my transition that I wanted to help others. There are so many transgender people that don’t have anyone to talk to or to help them with tips I want to help others and reassure them that they can be who they want.
"I am so much happier
than I ever was as a guy."
When we first decide that we want to come out, the main worries on our minds are will we lose all of our loved ones, friends, and jobs? And of course, will we ever be able to pass? I want to show anyone in that situation that I was worried about the same things, but it can work out in the end. I am so much happier than I ever was as a guy. It also doesn’t hurt my self-confidence to be able to get such positive feedback from people.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Ellie: I have received a bunch of messages from people saying that they are thinking about coming out trans and wanted to know the details of what my excess is like. I also get questions on social media and in real life from non-trans people just wanting to know more about what it means to be trans and the daily aspects of it throughout a transition. I am always happy to answer their questions since that helps them understand what we have to go through.
But I would say the most meaningful messages I get from people are the ones that tell me that I am a true inspiration to them and have helped them decide to take the leap and become their true selves. It makes me cry every time to know I have touched someone’s life so deeply and helped them on their journey.
Monika: Did your fiancée stay with you after your coming out?
Ellie: We are still together, I had no anxiety about telling her at all. I knew she would accept me for who I am. She immediately said ok, sat me down, and started explaining to me what it means to be trans and some of the paths that will be available to me if I wanted.
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?
Ellie: I ended up losing a good portion of my so-called friends, but the worst I suffered was losing my job as a helicopter pilot. I was in an area of the country where tolerance is not the greatest, and my former employer moved me from chief pilot to “sales”, only to let me go shortly after that due to it being in the dead of winter and no sales being possible. I was upset at being cast aside so easily but it made me consider a new career course. A am currently learning to fly planes as well so I can work for the airlines where the LGBTQ community is far more excepted.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Ellie: everyone was surprised when I came out. I love to mess with people too much, so when I came out just about everyone thought I was joking. I had to tell them I was serious multiple times before they finally excepted that it was the truth. But I can’t blame them. I never really showed any obvious signs that I was trans because I never realized it myself until a few years ago. So everyone was quite shocked to hear it.
"I was always interested in
the acceptable boy things
like guns and sports."
My family excepted me pretty easily with the exception of my parents. They excepted that this was my choice and they made sure I knew they still loved me, but they didn’t really understand it. For a while, they just kinda thought that I was a crossdresser. After some good talks and a few years of transitioning they have really started to accept the real me and even started making an honest effort to use my new name.
My best advice for anyone in the same position is to try and be patient with your family and friends if they keep deadnaming you, especially if they’ve known you for a while. It takes some time for them to get used to calling you something different.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Ellie: I am, I was able to see a great doctor specializing in transgender care. After two and a half years on HRT, I have seen great results and am very happy with how far I have come. I actually have had a few people get mad at me and accuse me of having breast augmentation even though I claimed to be 100% natural. They didn’t believe that someone could get that much growth on HRT alone.
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?
Ellie: I would say the hardest thing for me is that I’m still working on training my voice. I constantly get mistaken for a man over the phone or on the radio while I’m flying. I have also heard many times that I must have something really wrong in my head for thinking I’m a woman when I’m clearly a man. I cope by trying to educate people about the science proving trans people are real and how many civilizations throughout history not only tolerated but revered trans people. When that fails I just don’t talk to them anymore. Mainly I cope by thinking that someday we will be thought of simply as women, real women, and nothing else.
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Ellie: Tim Curry in Rocky Horror picture show.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Ellie: Amy Schneider, she showed anyone watching jeopardy that we can be normal start members of society
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Ellie: We are starting to be taken more seriously, which is nice but we are still being predicted, made fun of, not being taken seriously by a large number of people as well as a larger murder rate.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Ellie: I don’t really have a definitive style. I just wear whatever I think looks cute and also looks good on me. But I am almost always colorful.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Ellie: I try to, you never know what might look good.

"I’ve been playing with brighter colors and
this is the most me I’ve ever felt!"

Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Ellie: I do, it makes me feel good about myself.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Ellie: Somewhat, I don’t really go to group meetings or anything but I support the community as much as I can.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Ellie: One of the most essential things in life to me.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Ellie: I’ve never really thought about it.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Ellie: To get all of my airplane licenses so I can restart my flying career as a pilot.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Ellie: everyone’s path is different. You could come out immediately and get all of the available surgeries, only get some, not get any at all or not even come out except to a select few. Just know that whatever is right for you, there is a whole community that will help support you. 
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?
Ellie: I know I have a very love-hate relationship with parts of my body, so if I could wake up tomorrow with them gone I would see that as one less thing holding me back in my mind.
Monika: Ellie, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Ellie: Thanks for the opportunity to share.

All the photos: courtesy of Ellie.
© 2022 - Monika Kowalska

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