Tuesday 20 February 2024

Interview with Addie Danielle

Monika: Today I have invited Addie Danielle, a Canadian woman from Nova Scotia, who chronicles her transition on social media. Hello Addie! Thank you for accepting my invitation.
Addie: Thank you so much for the invitation! I’m honored to be able to share a bit of my journey with you.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Addie: I’m a 33-year-old Trans woman from Atlantic Canada. I’m the General Manager of a boutique corporate audio-visual company that specializes in press conferences, live streams, internal meetings, etc. I’ve been working in the event production industry in some capacity for 12 years. I live alone in a quiet neighborhood outside the city with two crazy dogs and I spend my free time hiking, paddling, and restaurant/cafe hopping.
Monika: What inspired you to share your intimate life moments on social media?
Addie: I posted a “before and after” picture on a trans subreddit and received a lot of really positive feedback from trans-women early in their transitions. So many were struggling and they said my transition was inspiring and gave them hope. I couldn’t believe that my experiences could do some good for others and it was really heartwarming to hear that my experiences could help someone.
I had a lot of folks asking me to continue sharing my journey so decided to start sharing and being more transparent on my social media. I’m generally a very private person and the idea of sharing such an intimate part of my life is a little overwhelming for me, but I think if my experiences can help someone even in a small way it’s important for me to put it out there.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your social media followers? What do they ask for?
Addie: I’m very new at utilizing social media to chronicle my journey so outside of Reddit I have had many interactions with followers. The folks on Reddit have mostly asked that I share more of my experience and I’m going to try to do that. Rather than solely focus on the worst and best moments of transition, I’m going to try and focus on the everyday life of living “post” transition. I have already given a small glimpse into the struggles I faced in the last two years but I think it's really important for people to know that although there was a lot of loss and trauma for me, there were some moments of beauty during my transition and I have found peace and happiness now that the dust settled.
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?
Addie: Wow this is a tough one! I’ve only been out “full-time” for six months and now that I’ve settled into authentic living I’m just beginning to unpack and heal from everything I went through since starting my transition in January 2022. The hardest thing for me was the social isolation that came with losing the vast majority of the people I was close to. I lost so many people in the first few months of transition, it’s a messy story but I’ll try to be as concise and transparent as possible.
My “egg” cracked in January 2021 at 30 years old and I came out to my long-term partner the day I realized I was transgender. I think it’s really important to highlight that she was so supportive for that first year and really helped me unpack and process all of the emotions and trauma from repressing and denying my transness for 30 years. Ultimately our relationship did end a year later because of my situation but she gave me as much love and support as she could for as long as she could. I don’t think we talk about how hard it is for our partners during this time, but I think it should be acknowledged that it is so difficult for them and there is a lot of pain in our transitions for them as well.
"My egg cracked in January
2021 at 30 years."
I’ll always be grateful for the support she gave me and I’ll never resent or blame her for needing to end our relationship. We’re still in contact and I see her a little bit every few months but she largely disappeared from my life when we separated in January 2022. I think the hardest part of losing my partner wasn’t the loss of our romantic relationship but losing my best friend with it. I miss my best friend every day and I wish we could be closer, but I respect the space she’s needed because she had a lot of healing to do too. Maybe someday we’ll have a close friendship again, but for now, I’m grateful for the time she’s able to give me.
Monika: I am so sorry! Losing friends is always painful.
Addie: In January 2022 I started coming out to the group of friends I had spent my entire adult life with. These people were my chosen family and I loved them deeply. They were initially very supportive but when my partner and I separated they began to pull away, and by May of 2022 they had completely cut me out. We had spent a decade of our lives together and shared so many big moments, I loved and trusted them so much. It was a devastating loss feeling abandoned by my chosen family when I needed them the most and that loss was really the biggest factor in my struggles with alcoholism. Losing my closest friends was a deeply isolating and othering experience. Feeling excluded and rejected by those people really shoved me back in the closet for a long time. I couldn’t imagine coming out publicly after that experience. It was hard for me to re-enter the world and I still struggle to connect with people as a result.
When my partner left I felt like I had no choice but to tell my family. It was such a nerve-racking experience. Coming out to my family before I was ready was traumatic. I’m happy to say my parents have been my biggest supporters but my brother did not accept or support me and we haven’t spoken for 2 years. I wasn’t surprised, he’s always been a far-right conservative but it did break my heart. We were really close and I supported him so much throughout our lives during his mental health struggles. I was devastated that he chose hate over his sibling. It left my family dynamic broken and has created a lot of pain for my parents but they continue to be my biggest advocates. It’s hard not to blame myself for my family's situation but I try to remember my brother’s transphobia is a choice, being transgender is not.
So yes, I paid a high price for my authentic life and social isolation was the hardest part, but I do feel privileged that I have supportive parents and retained my career.
Monika: Why did you choose Addie for your name?
Addie: Addie is short for Adalyn. My dead name is Adam Daniel and my parents always called me “Ad”. It felt like a natural and comfortable progression to feminize the name my parents gave me at birth.
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition?
Addie: Oh boy were they ever! Everyone was, to be honest. I had always presented as a gruff masculine guy my whole life. I worked on cars, shotguns, and played in bands, and really leaned into the “macho” aspects of masculinity. There were never any outward signs of my femininity before I came out.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Addie: Very satisfied! I think like most trans-women (Women in general!) there are things I’d like to improve but I am overall happy with the results. I’ve only been on hormones for 12 months so it's very early in my HRT journey. I’m excited to see what the results will be in 2-5 years.
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?
Addie: There is an enormous pressure on us to pass as cisgender in society. It can be a safety risk to be non-passing in many parts of the world and that definitely adds to the pressure of passing. For me I never focused on passing, I focused on what I needed to do to be happy. At this point, I do feel like I have cis-passing privilege in most situations and I feel very fortunate for that. I have not experienced any hints of transphobia or hostility out in public since I went full-time 6 months ago. I think we need to focus more on what makes us happy and relieves dysphoria rather than passing. Regardless of passing or not all trans-women are beautiful in their own way, we need to put less emphasis on passing as the end goal and more emphasis on finding peace with our bodies.
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?
Addie: I think I was 8 or 9 when I first saw a trans person on TV. Like a lot of us, I knew I was supposed to be a girl at age 4 or 5, but couldn’t understand it. The first time I actually understood that I was trans was during that time in the 90’s when Maury Povich was parading around trans people for ratings. I remember hearing the stories of trans people and what they went through and realizing “Hey that’s what I am!” but also being terrified because so many of those people had lost everything as a result of their transitions. I didn’t really have access to any of these core memories again until my “egg” cracked at 30, I think the trauma of growing up trans in the 90's and 00’s really kept me from processing and acknowledging any of my “trans” experiences growing up until I accepted I was trans decades later.
"There’s definitely an enormous
pressure for trans-women to
look 100% feminine."
Monika: Did you have any transgender sisters around you that supported you during the transition?
Addie: Unfortunately I did not. My first real genuine interaction with a trans woman was with a girl I met on a dating app a few months ago. We didn’t stay in contact, but the brief time I spent with her was really great and connecting with another trans woman was a really liberating experience for me.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Addie: I feel like things are going downhill pretty fast in Canada right now. There has been a lot of legislation being pushed through in other provinces restricting pronoun use and recognition of trans minors in schools. The right-wing hate has been seeping over from the USA for a few years and I think we’re reaching a tipping point in Canada. I’m not going to lie, I am anxious about the Federal election coming up in 2025.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Addie: I do like fashion, and I love shopping for new clothes but I didn’t have help during my transition in this aspect so I still have lots of work to do figuring out my style. One staple that will always be in my closet is high-waisted skinny jeans. I know they’ve fallen out of fashion but Gen z will have to pry them out of my cold dead millennial hands!
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Addie: Again, another thing I didn’t have much help with. I wouldn’t say I experiment, but I’ve been working to perfect an everyday look and a “going out” look. I still have lots of learning to do but I prefer a more subtle natural look when it comes to makeup.
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?
Addie: There’s definitely an enormous pressure for trans-women to look 100% feminine and I’ve definitely felt that pressure. Early on in my transition, I was focused on being as feminine as possible but I think a lot of that was chasing euphoria. Now I just focus on being comfortable and happy when I look in the mirror. There’s no right way to be a woman and chasing unrealistic beauty standards can bring a lot of pain.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Addie: This one’s a mixed bag for me. Yes of course I like being complimented on my appearance but it still feels uncomfortable for me. Because I spent almost 2 years in social isolation I didn’t receive any compliments really aside from my Mom so it still feels a little surreal that someone finds me attractive but I’m working on being more accepting of compliments.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Addie: I didn’t have a first job interview as a woman! I’ve been with the same company for almost 10 years now and when I came out 6 months ago my team was incredibly supportive. I feel very privileged to have been able to transition at the company I’ve come to call home.
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?
Addie: I work in a male-dominated industry and I definitely did worry about this before I came out but I don’t feel like my male co-workers treated me any differently afterwards. I am the top-level manager at my company and I think that definitely helped with retaining respect from my male colleagues. I took over the top job during the pandemic and it was my role to rebuild the team and the company once things got back to normal. When I was hiring a new team it was definitely top of mind for me to hire accepting and supportive people and that definitely played a role in my acceptance at work.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Addie: Definitely look for companies with a good diversity and inclusion policy. Research them online and make sure they follow through on their commitments to inclusion. In the age of social media, it’s hard for a company to keep a lid on transphobia and discrimination, it’s pretty easy to check into a company's track record these days.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Addie: I’ve only started dipping my toes in the local queer community in the last couple of months. I met a great new friend in November and we’ve been trying to go to as many queer-oriented events as possible. There is a local community group called East Coast Queers that hosts a lot of really great queer-focused events and their functions have helped me really connect with a community I never thought I’d be a part of. The queer community in my area is really accepting and supportive and I’m really excited to be a part of it moving forward!
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Addie: Love has always played a huge role in my life. I feel like I’m the type of person that loves people too deeply and that made it harder for me when the people I loved didn’t stick around for my transition. I’m definitely more cautious with the love I give after what I went through and for now, I’m focusing on platonic love and nurturing those relationships.
"Love has always played
a huge role in my life."
Romantic love is definitely on the back burner for now. Dating as a non-op trans lesbian definitely has its challenges and the dating pool for someone like me in this part of the world seems infinitely small. I don’t know if I’m ready to open myself up to a romantic partner just yet but maybe someday. For now, I’m grateful that I had the privilege of experiencing a really deep and beautiful love once in my life. Even though it didn’t work out and we’ve both moved on,
I’ll always cherish the time we spent together and I’ll never look back on our relationship with regret, I just feel fortunate that I got to experience that level of love and commitment in my lifetime. Maybe someday I’ll be ready to let a love like that back into my life but for now, I’m just focused on living, breathing, and healing.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Addie: I’ve never thought about it! It’s hard to imagine anyone would want to read the story of an overly average trans woman living in Atlantic Canada, but maybe someday I’ll have a story to tell.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Addie: For now the next steps are just settling into my new authentic life. I’m focused on healing from the trauma and grief I experienced during my transition and connecting with and helping the queer/trans community. I’m still working on what the next 5-7 years will look like, I’m at the top of my career and I own a home in a nice neighborhood so I feel like I’ve reached a lot of “traditional" life goals already. I think completing my legal transition and doing some traveling are the biggest things on the horizon.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women who are afraid of transition?
Addie: I know it’s hard and I know it’s so scary but in the end, it’s worth it. You’re going to lose people, you’re going to get hurt but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there’s a lot of joy on the other side. Connect with the queer community early on and try to surround yourself with supportive, loving people. Try not to compare your transition to other women’s and be kind to yourself. Everyone's transition experience is different and they are all beautiful and valid. Focus on what makes you feel good and brings you happiness and try not to get lost in the pressures of femininity.
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?
Addie: Definitely agree. We have so much life and potential outside of our transitions and I think it’s important to remember we are so much more than our transgender identities. Transition plays such a huge, looming role in our lives it’s easy to get lost in it and it’s easy to lose sight of all the great things we have to offer outside of our transness.
Monika: Addie, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Addie: Thank you so much for the opportunity to tell a bit of my story. I hope my experiences can provide some insight and help someone struggling.

All the photos: courtesy of Addie Danielle.
© 2024 - Monika Kowalska

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