Monday, 28 February 2022

Interview with Gaby van der Brug

Monika: Today I have the pleasure and honor of interviewing Gaby van der Brug, a Brazilian-born model living in the Netherlands, beauty queen, and transgender woman that shares her transition story on social media. This year she is going to represent the Netherlands in Miss Trans Star International, a beauty pageant for transgender women, which was first held in 2010 in Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain. Hello Gaby!
Gaby: Hello Monika! Thanks for having me.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Gaby: I'm Gabriela but you can call me Gaby. I'm 21 years old, I'm a hairdresser and upcoming model. I have been living in the Netherlands since I was 11 years old.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Gaby: When I was done with my transition and had the surgery behind me, I had 2 options: either I would live in the closet and lead a normal, peaceful life without discrimination, or I would openly live as myself with all the risks that come with it. I wanted to choose the first option, but when I see where our world is still in terms of acceptance, I had to think twice about it.
Do I want a happy, quiet, discreet life or do I want to mean something to my trans sisters and brothers knowing that I would have to give up a normal private life? I want those young trans girls here in Holland to have more examples of trans women, I want to be the person that I needed when I was a teen. And if that means I have to give up a private life then so be it, I honestly don't care anymore.
In the past my dream was to be in the closet but what's the point if the world hasn't gotten that far with acceptance yet? There have to be more transgenders who have to stand up, right? The battle isn't over.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Gaby: Honestly, no LOL, the only people who bother me with questions are horny tranny chasers (men who fetishize me for being trans). They ask if I want to be their first experience or so.
"I experience now my
adult life as a female."
Monika: Why did you choose Gabriela for your name?
Gaby: I'm Latina, I really wanted to have a typical south American woman's name, and Gabriela was also a Brazilian telenovela that appeared on television when I was little. The story was about the naïve and provocative Gabriela, a raggedy migrant worker who arrives in town to mesmerize all with her playful and simple, yet raw sensuality. Set in 1925, the story unravels in northeastern Brazil. On the run from the drought of the Brazilian hinterland, the gorgeous Gabriela fascinates everyone with her beauty. A sexually provocative modern woman who fought for her freedom. So that character really inspires me, I feel like I'm her reincarnation but then not living in 1925 but in 2022. Elena is my second first name and that's the name my mother gave me.
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?
Gaby: The hardest thing was that I had to convince my family members about my wish to become a woman. But at the beginning of my teenage years, I didn't experience losing jobs or a lot of friends. The funny thing is that I entered adulthood as a woman. I never got to know what I would have been like as an adult male.
I experience now my adult life as a female. I never had a past as an adult man, only as an underage boy. Sometimes I complain about dysphoria or little issues in life for being trans but that's nothing compared to a lot of my sisters. I feel sorry for transgenders who had to pay a high price, my heart prays for them. and I hope the universe comforts them with love and kindness.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Gaby: No, not surprised at all. I mean I always said that when I grow up I'm going to be a woman! And there is nothing you can do about it, I said haha. I was like 3 or 4 when I first said it out loud to my family and I didn't care what they thought. At 8 or 9 years old, I first heard of vaginoplasty and I said when I grow up I'm going to cut that thing off. Well, they just ignored it and said that I just have to be a boy, but I was a fighter, and I always knew who I was. Pretending to be someone I wasn't was just not the solution.
At 11 years old, my mom told me my life would be so much easier if I just became a boy and she said: ”just give it a try”, so I did, but the result was going through a traumatizing irreversible male puberty, dysphoria got worse and worse, and at 15 years old I was seeking illegal hormones on the Internet, but then for some reason, I got scared of what my family was going to think.
All those years from 11 to 15, I convinced them that I would give it a try by being a boy. I didn't want to disappoint them. Because of dysphoria, I lost all my self-confidence, which I had before puberty. But later in my life (now) they accepted my transition.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Gaby: Yes, I'm really happy and I couldn't have a successful transition without them. I read an interview of yours about another trans woman who said she doesn't recommend HRT for anyone, but I guess that's personal, for me transitioning without hormones is not possible, as I would never be so feminine even with a lot of surgery. Estrogen is the basis of feminization.
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?
Gaby: I am strongly convinced that this statement is correct. I think we all or at least most of us will forever be prisoners of that "syndrome", we won't be completely cured of that syndrome, but we can learn how to live with it. Many trans friends of mine do not consider themselves feminine enough even though they started at a young age and can easily pass for biological women.
"I want those young trans girls here
in Holland to have more examples
of trans women."
I always thought that after surgeries I will be cured but I found out that hormones and surgery relieve dysphoria but do not cure it, and I have accepted it because that's just how it is. I am genetically male and that will never change, we cant change 100% the laws of physics. And that's okay, we are transgender, and we are beautiful human beings. 
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Gaby: Honestly I can't remember clearly I was very young but I know when I was 11 or 12 years old, I saw a program about a 14-year-old trans girl who was transitioning. When I was 14 on vacation at a cruise I saw for the first time a trans woman, she was tall, blonde, and had big silicone breasts, and you could clearly see she was trans. I was so impressed and thought damn she is just there living her truth. I guess I already saw another few in my life before that but can't remember clearly.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Gaby: A lot haha, I think nearly every trans woman on Instagram. But if you ask me who is an inspiration, I think I would say Loiza Lamers, Caroline Cossey, and Roberta Close.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Gaby: I think it's okay, but we need a lot more representations. This year and last year there were 2 murders of trans women here in Holland. The first was someone I knew but not personally, we followed each other on Instagram. My best friend knew her personally. Holland is a safe country for trans women but also here trans women happen to be murdered. No matter where in the world you are, you have to be careful.
Monika: You participate in beauty pageants. Do you enjoy them?
Gaby: The Miss Trans Star International will be my first, and I think I'm going to love it. 
Monika: How do you prepare yourself for a pageant? Who helps you to prepare your dresses, makeup, and hair?
Gaby: Just me, I think!
Monika: Do you have any sponsors or friends that support your participation in pageants?
Gaby: My friends and family only.
Monika: Have you ever thought about participating in Miss International Queen in Thailand, probably the most prestigious pageant for transgender ladies?
Gaby: No, not really. I don't want to participate in this pageant, I think. When I'm done with participating at Miss Trans Star International, I want to participate in the cisgender pageant in Holland. In my most forbidden dreams, I want to participate in Miss Universe. Maybe I will be the second Angela Ponce!
Monika: Fingers crossed! Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Gaby: I like sexy, chique, insta baddie style and also slutty, and yeah I looove pink.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Gaby: No, not really too often. I put every day a kilo of makeup on my face but it's always the same look.
"I hope that I will be a model
in the future."
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Gaby: Who doesn't? It's always nice to get compliments, right?
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Gaby: Not really, but I really want to.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Gaby: You know, at 19 years old, I gave up on love. I realized a lot of men are chasers and a lot of them are not loyal. I always dreamed of prince charming but at 19 I just said to myself I'm going to focus on myself and live my life as an independent woman. Love as a trans woman is difficult but not impossible but for now it's not my priority.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Gaby: No, not now. I'm only 21 years old I don't have much to tell, LOL. Maybe when I'm older?
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Gaby: My next step is the Miss Trans International beauty pageant, and I hope that I will be a model in the future, competing in Miss Universe, and one of my dreams is also to be on the cover of Playboy Netherlands.
Monika: I hope your dream will come true soon! What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Gaby: It's a shame to be afraid all your life. Life is too short to worry about people who don't accept you as who you are. Do things you want to do early as possible in life so you don't regret them later. You don't need to please people by being someone you are not. Just remember that! :)
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?
Gaby: Yes, I do! 
Monika: Gaby, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Gaby: It was my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me to share my story.

All the photos: courtesy of Gaby van der Brug.
© 2022 - Monika Kowalska

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