Saturday 11 March 2023

Interview with Alysha Scarlett

Monika: Today I have invited Alysha Scarlett. Alysha has won 13 writing awards, is an American business owner, wrote a book, and was a screenwriter for a theatrical film. She is the first transgender or non-binary person to get their name and gender legally affirmed in a rural Utah county. Hello Alysha!
Alysha: Hi Monika! Thank you for having me on The Heroines of My Life!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Alysha: I am 33 years old and from Utah. Accepting myself closes the book on a years-long journey to realize my identity. My accepting myself had a direct connection with me not letting residue from the Latter-day Saint (formerly Mormon) church influence me any longer. I am on hormone replacement therapy. I also look forward to doing all medical transition surgeries this year.
Monika: I have visited the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been shocked by their attitude toward transgender people. In short, they do not allow medical, surgical, or social transition among their believers, and they specify that “taking these actions will be cause for Church membership restrictions.”
Alysha: This is one of many, many ways that the church doesn’t deserve to have “Jesus Christ” in its name.
Monika: According to the Church, “Transgender individuals who do not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition to the opposite gender and are worthy may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.” I am wondering who is “worthy” in this case.
Alysha: I read this line before and found it to be funny. The church is saying that individuals are transgender, yet forbid transition and affirmation in any way. And it’s a good question of how worthy someone is for not valuing humans more, especially for a religion with beliefs like those found in Christianity.
Monika: Apart from the attitude of the Church, from the legal point of view, living in Utah must be challenging?
Alysha: No other person of transgender or non-binary experience has ever had their name and gender legally affirmed in a rural Utah county before.
Monika: Has there ever been any attempt on making the policy of the Church more inclusive and emphatic by understanding the needs of transgender people for medical, surgical, or social transition?
Alysha: Not to my understanding. There certainly has been a lot of anti-transgender rhetoric, besides the policy.

"No other person of transgender or
non-binary experience has ever had
their name and gender legally
affirmed in a rural Utah county before."

Monika: You are a screenwriter. Do you write for what kind of films?
Alysha: I am currently writing a horror screenplay. Also, I write in the family and drama film genres -- I am passionate about the human experience.
Monika: You are also a businesswoman ... 
Alysha: I own Flacks PR. The public relations agency has existed since Oct. 2016. I publicize things that aren't harmful. 
Monika: We all pay the highest price for fulfilling 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?
Alysha: I did. As a result of coming out/being in transition, I lost in-person access to my children, and siblings and my parents’ response has been as bad as it could be short of physical violence.
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?
Alysha: I won’t pass despite doing all surgeries because I’m 6’7”. Thus, I plan to just own it. I plan to continue wearing shoes that are 5.7 inches tall. It also helps that I’ve come to such a place of surety internally about being a woman. Also, I intend to remind myself that the biggest critic is myself. While I have accepted myself, I see parallels to pre-transition and pre-coming out, when the person it was hardest to come out to was me.
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Alysha: I remember the first transgender person I met in person – on my LDS mission, a transgender woman let me and my mission companion into her Camden, N.J. home. She was really kind and I did feel an appreciation for the transition she had made, despite indoctrination making me think at the time that she had done something wrong.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Alysha: I admire Andrea James. She is a filmmaker in Los Angeles and a transgender advocate. She made it in Hollywood back around the turn of the century, when there was a lot more prejudice against transgender people. She also did it while being remarkably public in helping other transgender people, when she put some of the first transition resources online (which remain quite helpful today). And she worked in journalism and marketing for 10 years before moving to Los Angeles and becoming a producer.
I relate to her immensely. I’ve worked in journalism and marketing for 10 years and I’m seeking work in Los Angeles and my high school aptitude back in the day said that I should be a producer. I even paid Andrea for voice feminization training more than anything because of my gratitude for her work, which has included making films that help with the understanding of transgender people.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Alysha: The United States could be worse than other countries. However, it’s despicable that anti-transgender bills are passing in red states across the country. And legislators are even going after parents of transgender youth and gender-affirming healthcare providers. Many of the bills are criminalizing assisting transgender youth get what health professionals generally find to be “medically necessary care.”
Also, insurance companies could certainly get much more on board in covering transition care. For instance, they could do better than consider facial feminization to be simply “cosmetic.” I wonder how many executives at the companies making those decisions would feel that way if they felt distressed over having a face that doesn’t align with who they are internally. Also, given that the unemployment rate for transgender people in the U.S. is around twice the national average, employers could certainly be more inclusive of transgender people.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Alysha: I adore purses and clothing fashion. I love maxi dresses, rompers, and tunics. And anything with big bows. I love red, dark pink, dark yellow, and green apparel. I also love shoes that I can find that are in my size.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Alysha: I believe that non-romantic love is real, that everyone is worthy of love, and that love is the most important factor in societies. And thus, they must do more to reflect that. That all said, I am aromantic and find that divorce rates are so high, I don’t get the trouble of marriage. I also think that polyamory has promise.

"I lost in-person access to my
children, and siblings and my parents’
response has been as bad as it could
be short of physical violence."

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Alysha: I am the author of "'Star Wars' Is Still Intact: Re-finding Yourself in the Age of Trump," a collection of essays I have written and published by Thought Catalog Books. And generally, I am a writer. Thus, I am sure I will do this. I have a list of so many blog post topics regarding realizing you are a gender not reflected by your body, coming out, and transitioning. Thanks to your question, I now realize that it may be best if I just wrote a book instead of blog posts.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Alysha: In the present time, my next step is continuing with all things medical transition and getting filmmaking work lined up in Los Angeles. And in the next 5-7 years, I see myself working hopefully at least at an associate producer level. I also look forward to being a mother to teenagers then.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Alysha: If embarrassment and shame are what is causing you to be afraid, consider that the person who is as hard to whom to come out very well is yourself. Until October, I had as difficult a time doing it as my family has been in accepting it. In general, consider that since transitioning doesn't happen all at once, taking that first step isn't the whole caboodle.
Monika: Alysha, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Alysha: Thank you so much for having me, Monika. I have enjoyed answering the questions. I also really applaud you for running The Heroines of My Life – you are bringing important visibility to transgender women. I hope things are as tremendous as possible for you going forward. Love to you.

All the photos: courtesy of Alysha Scarlett.
© 2023 - Monika Kowalska

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