Thursday, 10 March 2022

Interview with Alison Tegan


Monika: Today I am talking to Alison Tegan, a South African beauty and health blogger from London, the United Kingdom, and transgender woman that documents her transition on social media. Hello Alison!
Alison: Good Afternoon, Monika. Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you. As mentioned, I aim to become and beauty and health blogger.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Alison: My name is Alison. I live in the UK, originally from South Africa. I am 50 years and came out trans on 5 April 2017. I dreamt of being a girl since the age of seven. I had no idea what was wrong with me and did not even know transgender people existed.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with severe depression. It took me eight years to fight my demons and beat depression. I could not cope and was admitted to the hospital a few times. In 2017 I decided it was time to start and live again. At that stage, I was 98kg and very unhealthy. I booked myself into a health spa; this was life-changing for me. I went on a ten days juice detox. When I left, I became vegan and never looked back.
Today my diet consists of fruit, veg and I only drink tea and water. I love green tea! I refuse to eat anything with preservatives. My big trigger to live healthily was when I went to the gym; the instructor told me my metabolic age was 69, I was 45! I quit smoking, started to live healthy and exercise. I love to walk and spin. A few years later, I went back to the same instructor, and my metabolic age was in the low 30s; mission accomplished!
Monika: Why did you choose Alison for your name?
Alison: My name is a funny story, my old name started with an A, and for some reason, I wanted to keep the A. It took me months to pick a name. I always overdo everything with research. I loved the music of Alison Moyet, one of my favourite musicians. Who does not like the song “Weak in the Presence of Beauty”? I once read you must keep in mind the year and decade you were born. It is better to choose a name from that era. My surname was very complicated, and I wanted something unique. I spent months looking for a surname. I decided on Tegan because the domain name alisontegan.com was available. I owe the domain now.
"I decided to always radiate
friendliness on social media."
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Alison: The first one is a little sad; my social media followers are the only validation of my transition. It might sound pathetic, but validation on social media is very important for me.
The second reason is that I decided always to radiate friendliness on social media. I always try to smile and be positive. I am flattered if followers tell me they need my smile every day. That is what I wanted to achieve. I love to share my transition and lifestyle choices. I live for health and wellbeing, and it can make a massive difference in your life.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your followers? What do they ask for?
Alison: I do get questions about makeup from time to time. I love makeup. I always say it is possible to hide all your pain behind makeup. That is probably something I do subconsciously. All I want to do is radiate positivity greet everybody with a smile, and try to lift people who feel down. I share my struggle from time to time, and when I can, I will always give practical advice. I usually contact someone with a private message if I see they struggle and offer my support.
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?
Alison: My family disapproved of my decision but will not dessert me. I would prefer not to have this discussion. I have friends who support me; most importantly, I have a beautiful daughter named Dasha. She is 15 and supports and accepts me for who I am. The hardest thing was coming out and getting to the point to make the decision. I have tunnel vision. Once I have made up my mind, I do it, and nothing will stop me. I do everything to get from point A to point B! I am an all-or-nothing person.
Monika: We are talking a couple of months after your gender confirmation surgery. I remember mine, and it was a moment of total euphoria. How about you?
Alison: Gender Reassignment Surgery was the most significant part of my transition. I planned my transition in detail, and obviously, GRS was the final step. I had no idea what to expect and did not even think about my surgery. I have tunnel vision; if I make up my mind, I want something, nothing, and nobody will stop me.
The surgery was on 12 November 2021. It was a surreal feeling after I woke up. I was unsure if I had surgery the first few days and was very worried. Miraculously, I had no pain and did not even touch the morphine; I started to walk around on the third day. I have a very active lifestyle, and I could not sit still anymore.
The removal of the bandage was very emotional. The wish I had since I was seven came true. Recovery went very well, and I have no discomfort; I can finally exercise again and go on with the next chapter of my life. I now feel complete, and since surgery, it is not a must to put on makeup like before. I am much more at ease with my body.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Alison: I am not sure if it is hormones, but I have gained much more weight since the surgery. Before surgery, I had a decapeptyl injection every three months; this is not necessary anymore. I am happy with the effects of hormones, and it did wonders for my mental health.
"For me, it was imperative to
change my body."
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Alison: This is a challenging question to answer. I think every person has a different path. For me, it was imperative to change my body. I think I mentioned it before. For me, it is all or nothing at all. I would ask for smaller feet if there was a fairy and be shorter. I am 5 feet 10 and wear a size eight shoe.
The worst and most challenging thing to change is your voice. I doubt I will ever be happy with my voice. There are certain things you can do to counteract gender euphoria. Semi-permanent makeup does wonders for your self-esteem. I will highly recommend semi-permanent makeup on your lips and eyebrows. It changes your image completely, and when you look in the mirror in the morning, it does wonders for your confidence!
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Alison: Yes, I do; when I started to transition, Paris Lees was on television a lot. Maybe one day I can thank her. She gave me the courage to come out and start my incredible journey. I have one transgender friend. The strange thing is I started my transition long before I even met someone trans. It never was important for me. I always had this burning desire to be a girl.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you followed or followed?
Alison: I do not have a role model I follow. I think I am too opinionated about it! I promised myself always to be me and radiate positivity. I make a point never to complain or be negative on social media. My followers know me well, and I always smile and be positive. If someone thinks about me, they must see me smiling.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Alison: This is a tricky question. I read terrible and sad stories on social media but was lucky enough not to experience any abuse or negativity. Maybe it is because of the area where I live. I do support my fellow trans sisters!
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Alison: I love fashion, makeup, and clothes. As mentioned before, I am limited with the clothes that I can buy. I like to be a bit different and have an excellent eye for clothes. I can visualize how I will look in clothes. Maybe in my previous life, I designed clothes. Sometimes the most boring dress can be stunning. I like clothes with a classic look or a little bit of gothic. 
I love crosses, and my favourite colour is black. It upsets me to see someone in the same clothes I wear, but it does not happen because of my style. A few years ago, I found a stall in Camden Market, Psylo. I love all their alternative ethically handmade clothes, and they are so comfortable to wear! This fits in with my lifestyle.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Alison: I love makeup and had many, many lessons! Again I am fixed on how I want to look. My favourite look is the Rock Chic of Charlotte Tilbury. I tend to stick with the gothic theme and love dark eyes! A perfect skin routine is more important than makeup for me. I do not use many products, but Vit C and Hyaluronic acid is part of my skincare routine.
I am vegan and do not eat any chocolates, sweets, or fizzy drinks; this helps healthy skin. I have a few favourite products and have experimented with a lot. I plan to start a beauty blog once I have more time!

"I love fashion, makeup, and clothes."

Monika: I love the color of your hair! By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Alison: Thank you, yes I love my red hair and will not change the colour soon. I like to be complimented about my looks and it validates my transition. I guess it is a reward for my strict diet and exercise!
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Alison: I was seen as a woman and treated with respect at the interview. I had no second thoughts about it and did not even remember it. I run my own company now, so work was never an issue.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Alison: It is essential to be yourself, act and behave as you usually do. I believe you must never pretend what you are not. Always be true to yourself, and the rest will follow!
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Alison: When I came out as trans and the first few years of my transition, I did not even meet anybody that was trans. I started to interact on Twitter and did most of my research myself. Only now do I reach out to members of the LGBTQ community and believe my experience can benefit others. I must add that there were two years during covid that I did not go anywhere.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Alison: I am asexual and can describe myself as auto romantic. I had enough hurt and pain in my life and am not interested in any relationships. I had to learn how to love myself. Maybe I will find love in the future, but I am at my happy place the way it is now.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Alison: Yes, I did. I have quite a story to tell. I also battled depression and was seriously ill. It took me seven years to beat all my demons, and I got through this. Many people advised me to write a book. I do not feel I am ready for it and prefer not to step on any toes.
"I embrace the future and leave
behind my past."
Monika: What is your next step in the present time, and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Alison: I have many lost years and just started a new business. Hopefully, I will have a thriving business and a small cottage at the seaside. I love nature and will move out of London as soon as possible!
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women afraid of transition?
Alison: Don’t be afraid and be brave! If you are sure you want to transition, do it! I waited 45 years before I told someone about it. My life would have been so much better if I had transitioned earlier. If anyone needs help or advice, please feel free to contact me.
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?
Alison: Indeed, I agree; since my surgery, I have learned so much about myself, and every day is a learning curve with new surprises. In short, I embrace the future and leave behind my past. It feels great!
Monika: Alison, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Alison: Thank you so much for interviewing me. If my advice can help one person, the interview will be worth it.

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

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