Tuesday 3 May 2022

Interview with Ovileya Myrah

Monika: Today I have invited Ovileya Myrah, a happy Bangladeshi-born transgender woman from Greece who documents her transition on social media. Hello Ovileya!
Ovileya: Hello dear Monika, I am so happy to be interviewed by you and glad to share my experience with you and our readers.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Ovileya: I am Ovileya Myrah, 26 years old, I am from Bangladesh. I left Bangladesh in 2016 and decided to settle down in Greece in 2017. I am a transgender woman, so I had to leave Bangladesh because of my gender issue.
I was living in a society where it was very difficult to survive, and my family couldn’t help with it either. I suppose they didn’t have the education and, of course, the courage to support me. So I had a very difficult childhood, and eventually, I was forced to leave my country.
I started my hormonal medication here in Greece almost 3 years ago. I am very much planning to have my SRS as soon as I save up enough money for the surgery cost.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Ovileya: Intimacy has so many definitions, I would say my personal life! Well, living life as myself took a lot of courage. When I decided that I won’t hide anymore behind the wall, it was the moment that I found my true self, and I gave up my previous life.
I often hated myself that I did not have freedom for myself, so once I regained my freedom to live the life I deserved,  I promised myself that I would be honest with myself and live for myself. And that’s how I feel, I am stronger, and my friends and family are very supportive.
"I often hated myself that I
did not have freedom for
Monika: Why did you choose Ovileya for your name?
Ovileya: My parents named me Ovil hasnat, and my ex-boyfriend used to call me Ovileya. He found the name that I liked a lot, and I picked it when I changed my name and gender in accordance with Greek law. I asked my mom “if you had a second daughter what name you would prefer for her? She said Myrah and that’s how I chose Ovileya Myrah. However, I did not keep my family surname.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Ovileya: I am a very popular person on social media. However, I don’t interact with racist or homophobic people on my social media.
Unfortunately, I receive so many stupid questions like “like if I still have a penis" and "how I do when I am having sexual intercourse”, and many other disgusting questions. Mostly I do not replay or say "go and educate yourself".
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?
Ovileya: Actually for me, from the very beginning it was much more different back in Bangladesh, as I couldn’t open up myself and live a true life. I left Bangladesh so I would say I gave up my family home and country. However, now things have started to get better with my friends and family. And all the friends I have now love me the way I am.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition?
Ovileya: The first person I came out to was my Mom when I decided to start my hormonal treatment. I confided in her and she told me that if I am happy with my life she is happy too because all she wanted for me was my happiness, and she has always been supportive. Although she wasn’t fully aware of my transgender status, I believe she was more scared of the society, as she always wanted to protect me back in Bangladesh.
Except for my mother, I wasn’t very open about myself, so there weren’t any surprising moments during my time in Bangladesh. My siblings understood who I am, and they are very happy about me.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Ovileya: Yes, so far I’m doing well being under hormonal medication. I had my breast augmentation surgery in 2019. The only issue I have been going through is my psychological ups and downs.
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?
Ovileya: It’s very individual. People have different ways of thinking and ways of dealing. Personally, I do believe deep down I am a woman and the rest takes place itself. I am proud of being a trans woman but at the same time, I always try to establish myself as a woman and I tell myself I’m not inferior to anybody because of my being trans. Of course, it was very challenging to establish myself in the society, still it is, but I keep going forward.

"I am proud of being a trans woman."

Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Ovileya: Yes, back in Bangladesh I never had a chance to meet anyone from the LGBT+ community, and here in Greece I meet many people from the LGBT+ community, including transgender women and men. I do admire MJ Rodriguez, a transgender actress, known for her role in the Netflix series “POSE”. I loved the series a lot.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Ovileya: I am very inspired by one transgender woman. She is the first transgender TV news anchor in Bangladesh. Her name is TASHNUVA ANAN SHISHIR. I am very proud of her and MJ Rodriguez.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Ovileya: As far as I can see and based on my experience, Bangladesh is very difficult for transgender people that face a lot of issues from society and their families. They don’t have health support, and the government discriminates against the LGBTQI+ community. In addition, unfortunately, there are some people within the transgender community who use trans teenagers for money instead of helping them to build a better life, as some of them are forced to beg on the streets, which is horrible.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Ovileya: Actually I love clothing fashion. I love dresses a lot in summer but mostly I wear casual outfits. Until now I haven’t worn any designer's outfit. I love saree, which are Bangladeshi clothes. I like mainly soft colors, such as purple, lemon, white, and pink.
"I love saree."
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Ovileya: I do love makeup. I experiment with my makeup very often.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Ovileya: I like to receive compliments. They always bring confidence but not compliments like “OMG, you are trans I can’t believe that!” When I hear them I feel offended because I like to be treated by other people as a person not as trans.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Ovileya: Actually I did a couple of interviews as a trans refugee at the very beginning of my journey.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Ovileya: Please do not give up, believe in yourself, and stay focused on your dreams.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ+ community?
Ovileya: To be honest, I am not pretty involved with the LGBTQ+ community but I am always supportive on social media.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Ovileya: I believe in love and every time I fail in love my heart is completely broken, so I am in a situation where I am scared to love. It was very painful when I had to give up my love just because of my gender. I always had to compromise my love, but still, I keep believing that love exists and everybody deserves to be loved and I am waiting for that day.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Ovileya: I have thought so many times that I would love to write a journal about myself but at the moment I can’t manage to focus on it.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Ovileya: I felt always that I was born in the wrong body and I’m correcting my body with this thought. I really want to have my SRS done and become a role model as a trans businesswoman. I want to be a mother and a wife too, haha, which is very difficult.
"I keep believing that love exists
and everybody deserves to be
loved and I am waiting for
that day."
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Ovileya: It’s a really tough question! Look everybody has different prospects for themselves but I believe if a person really feels that they’re trapped in the wrong body they should find the courage or power to fix the body, which will always bring joy and freedom.
So do not give up your happiness because there are so many people ready to 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?
Ovileya: Yes, 100%.
Monika: Ovileya, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Ovileya: Dear Monika, it was my pleasure to answer your questions. I hope my answers were helpful. Please take care of yourself and be healthy and happy. Much love!

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

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