Wednesday 31 January 2024

Interview with Kira Maevska

Monika: Today I am chatting with Kira Maevska, a Belarusian lawyer and proud transgender woman who chronicles her transition on social media. Hello Kira! Thank you for accepting my invitation.
Kira: Hello Monika. My pleasure, thank you for inviting me. 
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Kira: Well, I’m 34 years old. I run my own small legal practice and specialize in web3 and fintech spheres. Currently, I live in Georgia and enjoy a nice sea view each day. Mmm, what else… I prefer to spend my free time with long walks and nice people.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Kira: Here are two major reasons for that. First of all, my social media is my own way of better exploring myself as well as discovering my femininity and sexuality. Another point is that it is a kind of chronicle of my transition that could be useful for me, for example, being an anchor in overcoming gender dysphoria as well as serving as motivation for other trans people. I’m trying to divide what can go public and what should stay private.
Also, I think it is worth pointing out that at some point content of other trans women was and continues to be inspirational to me and it could serve as a knowledge transfer if you are ready to notice details instead of silly scrolling. It's just better to keep in mind that comparing themselves to other people usually is harmful.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Kira: Honestly, I don’t get many questions from my followers. Usually, there are either compliments of my look and femininity or just simple sex-related messages not even worth reading.
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?
Kira: I think I was lucky at that point. Before my coming out I thoroughly evaluated all cons of my decision and was prepared for the worst outcome. Specifically, I was ready for a complete social disaster in my life, I accepted that I would lose practically all of my friends, my clients would refuse to continue working with me, and that generally I would become a socially non-welcomed person.
The reality was quite the opposite. All my friends have been significantly supporting me in my transgender journey. My family was surprised by my decision, my parents initially didn’t take it seriously and thought that it was caprice for a further half of a year and then I would get back to my assigned birth gender and would refer to my trans transition as an interesting story to tell to my grandchildren in my 80s.

"Before my coming out I thoroughly evaluated
all cons of my decision and was prepared for
the worst outcome."

The hardest thing was overcoming shame around practically every aspect of the transition. The reality is in post-soviet countries that a trans woman at their early stage of transition is seen negatively by the majority.
Monika: Why did you choose Kira for your name?
Kira: Well, this is a pretty interesting story. In 2017 or 2018, I had a meeting with a woman named Kira. She was a pretty assertive woman with a strong personality. At that point, I had already been thinking about a transgender transition. I thought that the name Kira suited her personality really well.
Later, as I recapped that meeting in my mind, I admitted that in the context of my transition, I saw myself as a strong, assertive, and dominant woman. I felt that the name Kira would be a great match for me. Furthermore, I kept returning to this name again and again, and in 2021, I finally decided that from that point on, my female name would be Kira.
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?
Kira: Basically, society expects a lot from transgender women, much more than from cisgender women. Transgender women are often pressured to fit stereotypical ideals of beauty and femininity, while cisgender women don't face the same extremely strict expectations. Transgender women often feel the need to prove their identity, showcasing their appearance as evidence that they have the right to be called women. Unfortunately, society tends to focus solely on external aspects (how they look, behave, walk, and talk) without thinking of their feelings or thoughts. The expectations placed on transgender women are often much stricter and more demanding than those imposed on cisgender women.
Talking about my experience, there's a real difference for me between saying "I'm a woman" and "I'm a transgender woman." When I refer to myself as a transgender woman, I’m kind of asking not to treat me exactly like a cisgender woman and give me some space to be myself without strict judgments. In my ideal world, over the next year or two, I hope to confidently say, "I'm a woman" without revealing that I’m transgender.

"Society expects a lot from transgender
women, much more than from cisgender

Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person that opened your eyes and allowed you to realize who you are?
Kira: Yes, I first met a transwoman in 2019, and I can really say that it was eye-opening because, for me, my possible gender transition was something of unreal nature. However, I have been thinking about my transition since I was 14 years old, and then I saw a real example.
Monika: Did you have any transgender sisters around you that supported you during the transition?
Kira: Yes, among my friends there are transgender girls. Also, my girlfriend is trans. And our support is a two-sided process, we used to support each other, particularly, when any of us felt dysphoric. Among pure support, we are used to sharing some experience and knowledge (that you know is really not commonly available).
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Kira: I'm not a big fashion follower, but for me, passion is all about expressing myself and feeling comfortable with who I am. I like wearing bright colors, although I used to avoid black because it felt a bit too depressing. Lately, I've realized that black can actually work for me in certain situations.
As a woman, I've noticed that I'm drawn to dresses, coats, and bags. Add shirts to that list, and that's pretty much my style. I prefer clothes that fit skinny; oversized isn't my thing. Simply put, fashion, for me, is a way to be myself.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Kira: Yes, I like experimenting with makeup, but I wouldn't say I'm good at it, not yet at least. I also want to learn how to do my makeup really well. Normally, I don't wear much makeup, maybe just lipstick. If I do makeup, it's usually light - some bronzer, a bit of blush, and that's about it.
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?
Kira: Oh yes, I've tried to fit into stereotypical woman roles before, but it's more about learning and adapting. You start figuring out how to navigate things, how to act, and how to speak in a way that's expected. Over time, it evolves, and you find a balance. Initially, it might feel like conforming to a stereotypical idea of a woman, like the 100% ideal woman, which doesn't really exist and will never exist. However, I believe going through that process was crucial for creating my own style, the way I speak, and how I express emotions.

"I've tried to fit into stereotypical woman
roles before, but it's more about learning
and adapting."

In the beginning, we often try to be a woman that's more of an ideal than a reality.
The funny thing is, there are a few people, like my very close friend, with whom I still find it comfortable to act more like a guy. But I've caught onto it and I'm trying to be more mindful and drop the habit.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks
 Kira: Sure thing, as any woman.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Kira: Actually, I haven't been through any job interviews as a woman. As I mentioned earlier, I run my own practice, and I'm my own boss. During meetings and calls with potential clients, I've never experienced being misgendered or receiving negative assessments. I'm confident in my professionalism and consider myself among the top-tier professionals in my field. This allows me the freedom to choose who I work with.
In the beginning, it felt a bit awkward to have calls without video because of my voice tone. Even after voice surgery, my voice still tends to be more on the male side. I'm actively working on adjusting it, but it's still in the highest male range.
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?
Kira: Absolutely, I've noticed a difference, but it's not solely because I'm transgender; it's more about being a woman. Our society tends to be more patriarchal, where men's opinions are often trusted more than women's. I've realized that I now need to explain and prove my position, whereas before, people would consider my opinion the best solution without much questioning. Now, I find myself having to prove my professionalism and worth. 
Interestingly, some people might assume my IQ is lower at first, but once they start working with me, they usually understand my level. When it comes to comparing impressions between men and women, I've noticed that women are generally more skeptical. In simple terms, it's common for women to trust men more and be a bit suspicious of other women.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Kira: Firstly, trust yourself and recognize your strengths. Identify your top skills and apply them. Also, remember that making a first impression, especially for transgender people, goes beyond appearance - it's about professionalism in work, employment, or business. So, it's crucial to create a positive first impression. Afterward, you can showcase your professionalism as a reliable colleague who can handle any challenge. It all begins with a strong self-presentation.

"For me, the main point is to be happy
in my life, to be accepted, to be loved,
and maybe share the same with others."

Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Kira: Not much. I have friends from the LGBT community but I cannot relate myself to the LGBT community.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Kira: Probably, it's the most complicated question. Yes, love is very important to me. Unfortunately, 80% of the people I have dated didn't see me as a person with my own feelings; instead, they saw me as a sex toy.
I have a girlfriend, and I sincerely hope that we could be the best for each other.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Kira: I've considered it a few times, but we each have our own stories. I don't want my opinion to be determinative for anyone. We all have our unique stories and feelings. Memories can be helpful, but they shouldn't dictate decisions for anyone.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Kira: So, my goal is to continue my transition and become a better version of myself. I have some milestones in mind for what to do next; for example, I’m thinking of a couple of surgeries. But, for me, the main point is to be happy in my life, to be accepted, to be loved, and maybe share the same with others.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women who are afraid of transition?
Kira: Try to figure out, first of all, what you’re afraid of. Just try to find some balance. I cannot say that it will be easy, but the majority of ideas in our heads tend to be pessimistic. Think about one point: Would transition be worth the problems? And remember one point there is no ideal story, everyone has their own journey.
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?
Kira: Yes, I agree with it. The main thing is, all of us are unique. There are no two identical people; we all have our own stories. Don’t compare yourself with others. Once you compare, you can bring some harm into your life. That's it. 
Monika: Kira, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Kira: You're welcome! It was my pleasure to be interviewed.

All the photos: courtesy of Kira Maevska.
© 2024 - Monika Kowalska

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