Saturday 19 March 2022

Interview with Zori

Monika: Today let me introduce you to Zori, a Sri Lankan-born social media influencer and a transgender woman from Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), documenting her transition on social media. Hello Zori!
Zori: Hello Monika. I am so happy and honored. Thank you for this opportunity.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Zori: I am Zori, and I am 24 years old. I live in Dubai but I am originally from Sri Lanka. I have successfully finished my studies recently, and I am also a social media influencer and content creator.
Monika: What did you study?
Zori: I studied international relations.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments via social media?
Zori: Growing up I have always been very confident but when I started my transition I started to feel a little insecure. So when I first shared a little intimate content online I received a lot of positive feedback and I was very overwhelmed. So I started continuing posting intimate content and it really made me feel good about myself.
Monika: Why did you choose Zori for your name?
Zori: It is such a funny story to share. I grew up in a middle eastern country and my mother has always called me Zori when I was little. So I kind of picked it from there.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Zori: Yes, I do. Most of them are asking if they can meet me.

"My family was not surprised because I've always
been very feminine."

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?
Zori: Fortunately I did not have to make any compromises yet.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition? Did they accept it easily?
Zori: My family was not surprised because I've always been very feminine. But they were uncomfortable in the beginning. They have accepted me for who I am but I feel like they are not happy with the life choice I made for myself.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Zori: I am definitely very happy. Hormones have done wonders to my body but I also have to mention that it all came with a little bit of depression.
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?
Zori: I have always been worried that I will never pass but right now I have realized that it doesn't really matter to me as long as I am happy.
Monika: What is the situation of transgender women in Sri Lanka?
Zori: Fortunately no laws specifically criminalize transgender women in Sri Lanka. However, people are very narrow-minded. At the same time, there's plenty of freedom to live our lives on our own.

"Fortunately no laws specifically criminalize
 transgender women in Sri Lanka."

Monika: And in Dubai?
Zori: It is very different as it is an Islamic country. Therefore we have to be very careful as it is not legalized. But Dubai is a very safe city for any woman if you live a normal life.
Monika: How big is the transgender community in Dubai? Do you keep in touch with other transgender women there?
Zori: The community is not active here and I only have one transgender friend in here.
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Zori: So I saw transgender women when I was 13 years old on Facebook. I didn't even know that it was possible. At that time I was crossdressing.
Monika: When did you realize that you were not a crossdresser but a transgender woman?
Zori: So I always had this feeling that I’m a girl but I didn’t know where to start. I used to tell myself someday I will be and then I discovered HRT.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Zori: I actually do follow Nikita Dragun. She is a very young, talented influencer and entrepreneur.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Zori: Yes, of course, I love fashion. I am a big fan of body-hugging maxi dresses. I also like wearing neutral colors. It all depends on my mood and where I'm going.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Zori: Guilty!!! I love makeup. I spend too much money on makeup.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Zori: Yes. I do receive a lot of compliments online but in person, I'm a very shy and introverted type of girl. So I'd be a little uncomfortable in person if a stranger complimented me.

"I do receive a lot of compliments online
but in person, I'm a very shy and
introverted type of girl."

Monika: You look like a million dollars. Have you ever tried modeling or acting?
Zori: No, I never really tried. But maybe in the future.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Zori: Yes, of course, I do. It was a little difficult for me as I was very insecure.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Zori: I think if you feel that you are ready to take that risk you should definitely go seek opportunities.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Zori: Unfortunately no. As I mentioned before, UAE is an Islamic country. Therefore we do not have an active community but I would love to be an active member as soon as I decide to move to a Western country.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Zori: I am a very affectionate person and love is the most important thing in my life.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Zori: I haven’t really thought about it yet but maybe in the future. Let’s see.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Zori: I really want to have a family. So I hope that I will meet a good partner that is understanding and supportive.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Zori: Well what I have to say is that, if you really want to embrace yourself just do it. Don’t be afraid. Take this risk for your own happiness.
Monika: Zori, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Zori: Thank you very much for this opportunity.

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

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