Monday, 14 March 2022

Interview with Rachel Doese

Monika: Today I have the pleasure and honor of interviewing Rachel Doese, an American sports athlete and gym nut, happy parent, and transgender woman that documents her life on social media. Hello Rachel!
Rachel: Hey Monika! Thank you so much for reaching out! Very pleased to talk to you!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Rachel: Yes, of course! So I’m 31. Like you said, I’m a gym and fitness nut and I am a parent to a gorgeous kiddo. I started my transition nearly 3 years ago and it’s been a crazy experience, to say the least. I work full time in a sales-related career. My main passions are fitness, football, basketball, fashion, and family.
Monika: Why did you choose Rachel for your name?
Rachel: Gosh that’s a story! So when my parents were pregnant with me, they were certain the doctor would say “It’s a girl”. So much so that they had a pink dress and pink baby blanket waiting at the hospital. Well, as fate would have it, the doctor said “it’s a boy”. So, when coming out, I was immediately drawn to the name Rachel as it’s what I knew my parents had chosen for me.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Rachel: Great question! So that account has always been a way to just document my journey. See how much I’ve changed both transition and fitness-related! But early last year, that account really gained a following! Having the following I do, it truly gave me a unique opportunity to help other transgender people who reached out for advice and support. Also, it allowed me to show the trans community in the positive light we deserve. Helping the general public realize that trans people have hobbies, passions, goals, likes, and dislikes just like any other demographic.
"Hormone therapy has made me
comfortable in my own skin and
that’s absolutely invaluable."
Monika: You managed to lose 40 lbs (18kg). For me, it was quite a challenge to lose weight under hormone replacement therapy...
Rachel: For me, prior to hormone therapy, I didn’t pay much attention at all to how I ate. If I wanted it, I had it immediately. Sure I’m in the gym 3-5 days a week, but most of the weight loss has been earned in the kitchen.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Rachel: I truly am! Both physically and mentally. Hormone therapy has made me comfortable in my own skin and that’s absolutely invaluable. It made me such a better person, to be honest.
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?
Rachel: I was very fortunate here. My family struggled with it at first, but it’s something we’re working on. I’m invited home for the holidays, I talk to my family all the time. My friends always supported me from day one. My work was/is extremely supportive. I truly didn’t have to pay that high price and I’m truly thankful for that every day. Some trans people aren’t as fortunate as I was in that regard.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Rachel: So my family was surprised, yes. They struggled with adapting to the changes, sure. But they never stopped loving me. They always gave me all the love and support they could and I’m so thankful to still have them in my life. They’re great people.
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?
Rachel: I mean, passing was a big thing to me. But the longer I transition, the less important it is. I find solace in the fact that I’m finally comfortable with who I am and how I identify. Are there any days when I don’t pass? Yeah, I’m sure there are. But I finally feel comfortable in my body, and that’s enough for me.
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Rachel: So I always joke that I’m the first trans person I’ve ever known. I was born and raised in a very very rural and conservative part of the United States. There wasn’t much diversity at all. It wasn’t until approximately 5 months into my transition that I actually met another transgender person face-to-face.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Rachel: Oh too many to mention! Some big ones, however, are Rebekah Bruesehoff (who was featured in a Disney documentary a few years ago), Rose Montoya (Model), Kayla Ward (Model/Athlete).
"I finally feel comfortable in
my body."
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Rachel: It terrifies me, to be honest. I’m so glad I am not a minor right now due to all the legislation attacking trans youth. It's something that definitely needs to be addressed. But it’s not just trans youth.
Last year Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson literally made it legal for trans people to be denied any medical services (including emergency/life-saving care) due to “religious indifference”. That’s literally asinine and makes me think twice before traveling… 
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Rachel: Oh I love fashion! It’s a great way to express yourself for sure! After 3 years, I’m still finding my exact style, to be honest. This spring and summer I’m really getting into sundresses though.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Rachel: Probably even more so than fashion. Makeup can completely change the way you look. There are so many options of products and styles! It’s fun to just play and learn about what works for you and what doesn’t.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Rachel: I mean, I do. I may not always know how to react to a compliment, but I do definitely enjoy receiving them haha.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Rachel: I do actually. It was for a promotion with my current employer. They had asked me to prepare a slideshow presentation so I included a ton of pictures, some from pre-transition. Nobody could tell that the pictures of me presenting as male was the same person so there were some awkward questions about that later, but I did end up with that promotion haha. 
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Rachel: Honestly, I’d say just be you! That’s what helped me get to where I am today. I’d also say, research your employer. You’re interviewing them just as much as they are you. Is it going to be a good fit? My employer prides itself in being a diverse employer. There are members of the LGBTQIA+ Community in leadership positions all across the company. This allows me to know it would be a good fit for me.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Rachel: I am! Not as much as I’d like to but I’m changing that. I’m a leader in my trans-specific support group as well as working with a neighboring county to have their first-ever Pride celebration.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Rachel: It’s extremely important to me. Having the love of my family and friends is invaluable to me. I’d love the love of a partner but I’m not there yet. Currently been single for the last 3 years that will come eventually.
"It’s amazing being able to be me
on a daily basis."
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Rachel: I’ve debated it and that may be something I get into in the future. I journal to keep my thoughts fresh but have not turned them into a full-blown memoir just yet.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Rachel: My current next step is getting prepared for bottom surgery. I need to get some WPATH letters from my therapist in order to get scheduled and started there, but it’s definitely my next hurdle. As far as the next 5-7 years, ideally I’d like to settle down with someone and get married, potentially move into a real estate career and continue on my personal fitness goals.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Rachel: If it’s safe to do so, do it. I’ve legitimately never been so comfortable and confident in my own body. It’s amazing being able to be me on a daily basis…. Finally!
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?
Rachel: Absolutely! The first part of my transition, I focused far too much energy on comparing myself to other transgender women and it really broke my confidence down. Once I stopped comparing and just lived my life, that’s when my quality of life truly got better.
Monika: Rachel, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Rachel: Thank you so much for the opportunity! It truly has been a pleasure!

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

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