Thursday 6 July 2023

Interview with Sarah Wenno-Stephenson

Monika: Sarah Wenno-Stephenson is my lovely guest today. Sarah is a London-based fashion model, background artist, presenter, and property investor. Hello Sarah! Thank you for accepting my invitation.
Sarah: Hi Monika, thank you for the invitation, and I am happy to be here.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Sarah: Few words about myself... mmm let me put this in a short phrase. An ambitious, hard-working woman who knows what she wants in life and the future ahead, goofy more towards joker clown light the party kinda girl really. Married once, engaged close to married twice, and been living in 5 countries but London is my last stop where I do call it my home. Last but not least I am pushing on 50 so there you have it lol not quite a few words, sorry I can’t help it.
Monika: You are a woman of many talents. Is modeling your primary vocation?
Sarah: Many talents. I wouldn’t say that. Couple or more maybe. Modelling is not my primary vocation more like whenever they offered to do a Fashion show and I have the time and energy for it then I would do it. Property stuff is more my passion ever since I was a teenager dreaming about having my own house and interior designing. Mind you I can’t draw properly but more vision with me from choosing what kind of floors, tiles, color schemes, etc. I could go on and on. Dont really wanna bore you … lol
Monika: You were on the fashion catwalks of Sydney, Dublin, London, Edinburgh, and Newry. Which one was the most challenging for you?
Sarah: To be honest without sounding arrogant, walking on the runway for a fashion show was never challenging for me, I enjoy doing it and love it. It’s almost a dream come true because I don’t know about you, for me, as a teenager I sneaked out and tried on my older sis clothes, and heels and stayed at friends who were “gays’ and in my mind every time I put heels and start walking up and down thinking as if I am Christie Turlington or Linda Evangelista lol oh dear the old days.
"Walking on the runway for a fashion
show was never challenging for me."
Monika: I guess like many other transwomen I am very self-critical of my body. How can we overcome it to be successful models like yourself?
Sarah: Well I am far from successful or having a perfect body. But I’d say this I think being self-critical of your own body is healthy as long as you don’t get too carried on. What works for me in terms of looking after my body? As we are transwomen, being muscular is a no-no but tone yes, and doing extracurricular like doing Yoga, steaming, sauna,  and swimming. That's my go-to and a must nearly every day, every chance I get basically, otherwise, I get really upset and it is a wasted part of the day. 
Moist your skin from your face to your toes. Trust me. I am thankful and bless that I have not had any cosmetic face surgeries whatsoever not because I am scared of needles and that includes Botox or fillers, and I am planning to stay away from that, apart from my breasts obviously. lol
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Sarah: Well having a loved one with me I kinda wish I have one and listening to spiritual meditate podcast, check out @dannymorel on IG and his podcast and of course Jay Shetty and anyone on social media who gives me a boost and energy. It's important to be thankful, grateful, and humble about what is in front of you. And keep dreaming big for the hierarchy. Gosh it sounds like preaching. lol
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Sarah: To be honest, I do and I don’t know because I don’t have many followers and it's OK. Mostly they asked to collaborate and if that was easy enough and not time-consuming. I’d say yes but mostly I said no because I am focusing on property projects.
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?
Sarah: Coming out for me is pretty much no secret as long as I can remember, there's no need for me to come out as in I am already out and about and also proud. I try not to have that guilt and disappointment to my family, what they would hope so, especially my mother but she accepted me and was proud also of what I accomplished in life. At the age of 24 years, my first ever big purchase and I was very proud to say that I bought her a house as a thank-you for always being there for me and listening to my crap dramas whether about men, work or in life generally. For me regretting what was in the past = AVOIDED!
Although there’s one thing I sort of wish I still keep in touch with my estranged sister who was so jealous of me for unknown reasons. I don’t really want to get into this. Let's just say we used to be so close but for whatever demon in her or what got into that vindictive mindset, She became bitter and twisted towards me not sure what it is. I’d say ADIOS!
"My mother and 6 siblings, and aunt
all accepted me except my dad."
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition?
Sarah: My family knew all along, my siblings were the ones who put me on the dress, etc, and when we argue they call me derogatory words but I am used to it. My mother and 6 siblings, and aunt all accepted me except my dad but he died shortly after my transition. I mean they have to. I emancipated myself and left my parent's home when I was 17 and earn my own money by performing pantomime with other grown up also I was a male model as a teenager and never once looked back.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Sarah: I must say I am very lucky and grateful. I hardly had any bad side effects, so yes satisfied indeed. I think in my opinion it all plays out only in your mind and because of the society we’re living in. But if you allow that bad thought then it's gonna happen. My thing is I refuse to have any bad energy or be surrounded by negative people... step out from those. Only be surrounded by people who can give you a good vibe and knowledge and what you can offer to the world.
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?
Sarah: Again, it's all in your head. Trust me on this. I actually a few years back helped women to be courageous, and self-confident. I think it's called the Dress for Success program, so I was asked to volunteer and helped women and trans to be out there, and be confident although I myself have had some severe anxiety. This happened around the middle of the Covid-19 saga, I was accused by the NewDay Amazon credit card company to cut a long story short, my card was blocked just because I was buying some clothes online and I did that in the early hours, to be fair I kinda glad the level of protection for credit card user pretty safe knowing that right.
So the next day I called them to explain the situation thinking all OK as I answered every security question and I passed. But boy oh boy every single of their employee that included the fraudulent team decided to freeze and blocked again for what reason??? They accused me that I was fraudulent as they didn't believe I was a genuine cardholder just because I sound heavy as in sounded like a man. So I offered to pay what I owed they refused because again they believe I was not the cardholder. Imagine this at some point in one day 3/4 of their staff shouted on the phone back and forth until I was just fed up so I sued the company for discrimination towards me as a transgender woman who pays taxes and the LGBTQ community, remember this F... company is a giant big company and also lack of knowledge and lack of proper training on their part in handling the situation like this.
Monika: Did it end well?
Sarah: This was going on for 2 years battled till they defaulted me until now. Yes, I won the case and they rewarded me with £££ but the suffering that I faced was beyond belief. The purpose of my telling this is so that the reader who has a similar situation like this so they can stand up for themselves and they're not alone. How can we cope and overcome a situation like this in my opinion? Talk to friends, write it all down and the most important thing is to be surrounded by like-minded and healthy minds and not to forget first and foremost, GOD. It damages my relationship, lost quite a few auditions, and couldn't talk to anyone on the phone thinking I was not worthy to be on this planet but I fought through it all because I am all by myself so I thought if I don’t fight this who will? That's my motto really. Especially at this timezone when people are more accepted. Stay strong girls. I feel so emotional just talking about this and the journey that I have encountered. God bless y'all.

"I grew up in Sydney, Jakarta, and the
Netherlands with a pretty strict family."

Monika: Did you have any transgender sisters around you that supported you during the transition?
Sarah: I do not actually but I am OK with it. I am the one and only trans, gay, andro, etc in my big household with 20 siblings and yes ma'am I am the only different and they accepted me from the beginning.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Sarah: I grew up in Sydney, Jakarta, and the Netherlands with a pretty strict family. What do I think about the present situation? The answer is I do not know babe... Sorry, that's the straight honest answer. I am not going to pretend to be politically correct that's not me.
Monika: What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Sarah: I love BALMAIN army jackets, I feel powerful when wearing them, MANIERDEVOIR (MDV) you should check that out, not just affordable but the quality is definitely for the long run and every girl in almost every country love SHEIN right? And of course, JUSTFAB for boots is again affordable and great quality too. In terms of accessories/Jewellery, hands-down PANDORA and PDPAOLA. FYI, I am not endorsing any of these brand names in case the reader its just my go-to brand.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Sarah: Sometimes. Especially lately. I can, I was only able to contour 4 years ago, and before pretty plain.
Monika: I remember copying my sister and mother first, and later other women, trying to look 100% feminine, and my cis female friends used to joke that I try to be a woman that does not exist in reality. Did you experience the same?
Sarah: I did exactly that. My mother was so elegant and classy with long straight hair. I missed her much. She passed away a long time ago... died too young.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Sarah: Not really once or twice OK but not constantly like guys giving too much. In fact, I rather not get it.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Sarah: Yeah I was a hostess in a high-end restaurant in Sydney and it was bloody nerve-wracking indeed.
Monika: When I came out at work, my male co-workers treated me in a way as if the transition lowered my IQ. Did you experience the same? Do you think it happens because we are women or because we are transgender? Or both?
Sarah: Nope! I am the opposite. Again it's all in your head. Transition is definitely made me smarter, disciplined and definitely feeling wanting to move further in regards to achieving that goal in life. What lowered our IQ is by listening to the person who had no clue what he's talking about unless that person has been there and done it. Or perhaps he's insecure within himself? and have the need to address it with you. I for one being accused of taking hormones is ruining/slowing my brain and I told that person and said perhaps you should educate yourself before assuming things just to make me feel second class so no thank you! Erased and press delete=Move on.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Sarah: I would advise being confident, researching, being qualified in your craft and mastering what you are good at and being kind and giving. Remember this knowledge is power!

"I never had the need to reveal myself
to the world or proclaim my status
as a transgender woman."

Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Sarah: Sadly zero involvement. I know don’t judge. I just never come across that yet. 
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Sarah: My love in my life = Non-existent for now.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Sarah: I have my docu-series on Amazon Prime. About my life really. Some producer offered me to go on Big Brother but I turned it down instead he would do my life stories and sell it to Amazon Prime. Season 1-3 but I wasn’t into it and the quality, was not to my taste so I didn’t promote it.
My ex-best friend had a clash with the producers so they fired us. If you wondering what is it called? The Crazy World of Transgender Sarah Wenno. I am not sure if you are still able to watch it or you can just google my name lol it's easier. Or try this link.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Sarah: To settle in, retire and adopt a baby and have my property portfolios grow, and have my own two spacious bedrooms and closets.
Monika: Fingers crossed! What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Sarah: Talk to me. lol No. Watch, research, and educate yourself, and hopefully that itself would open your mind and become strong and brave as we are all supposed to be.
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?
Sarah: 1000000% agreed! Dream big even sometimes impossible but trust me. I am living proof and you are living proof and at least the new generation doesn't have to go through not so much of the difficulty faced the real life in this society. And YES! Damn right we deserve to be happy and keep dreaming big.
Monika: Sarah, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Sarah: My pleasure. Thank you. I will have to say. This is kinda therapeutic for me and I am proud of myself and proud of you girl. Keep up the good work dear and keep thriving.

All the photos: courtesy of Sarah Wenno-Stephenson.
© 2023 - Monika Kowalska

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