Interview with Alison Ashdown - Part 2


Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Alison: Hmm. Now that’s a tough one. I actually am not sure the first time I saw a trans person on TV. It always felt like when I was a kid, trans women characters were still lumped in exclusively with sex work and always as a joke.
As for the first time I met someone who is trans, it was probably a group session I attended back in Calgary. I remember I was excessively nervous about fitting in. My self-confidence was very sporadic back then too. I think I was worried I would compare my transition to theirs in a negative way. Like by being jealous of their progress. But the meeting went well, and I actually got recognized by some attendees because of the YouTube videos I had done back then. So that was pretty cool.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Alison: In Canada, I think our government has made some great strides overall in the past 10 years. Gender identity is officially protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that protects trans people from discrimination in the workplace for sure. But there is still a lot of work to do with the overall feeling of the public towards trans women. There is still a lot of misinformation and ignorance at play in the cis world, which does give rise to transphobia. Thankfully it’s just more hidden than on the surface in daily life.
Monika: Being mindful of your fantastic fashion background, I am curious what kind of outfits you usually wear yourself? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Alison: I actually am not a trend follower for sure. I’m not necessarily a trend-setter, but I love to see what makes me feel good about myself. Whether that be sexy, warm, or comfortable. My current favorite trends are Victorian corsets, berets, and jumpsuits. I love traditional styles and repurposing them for a more modern style. So I’m very excited to rock my new corsets later this spring and summer once it warms up.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Alison: Honestly, not really. Makeup for me was a very tricky thing early in transition. I think for a while I was incredibly intimidated by it. I didn’t want to appear “caked” or look too much like I was in drag makeup. So I learned the basics early on, and since then I’ve learned a bunch through my modeling experience. But I often don’t wear much unless I’m going out somewhere at night. I love my natural skin tone and texture. That being said, I do love having my face all glammed up for a shoot by a professional makeup artist. They always do amazing work!
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Alison: Yes, I love it! I often can get stuck in my own head with my dysphoria, so getting compliments helps shut those voices up.

"I love traditional styles and
repurposing them for
a more modern style."
Photo: @katherinecalnan

Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Alison: I actually haven’t had one yet. I transitioned while at my old job, and now I’m back in school. So I’m very curious to see how it goes this spring when interviewing for my internship.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment? 
Alison: Go into the interview believing that you’re worthy of respect and you deserve the job. You aren’t inferior to cis women vying for the same job. Also, never feel like you need to disclose they you are transgender to the interviewer. I believe that that part of your identity is protected under most countries’ citizen’s rights to privacy.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Alison: I haven’t been able to get involved in the Toronto LGBTQ community since my move last fall, but I’m hoping to once restrictions ease and regular events can start once again this summer.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Alison: I have a lot of love to give and a huge capacity for it. I’m working on self-love all the time and dance and school have helped me with that because I’m doing those for myself. But I do want to find a lifelong partner and get married one day. But this time, I’ll be the one in the dress everyone is looking at, haha.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Alison: I’ve started to write some stuff. Several of my friends have suggested I write a book about my experiences and adventures. I just need to get in the groove and really go after it. I think it’ll be an amazing read one day.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Alison: Well the main goal is to finish my school program and get a job, which will be in about a year. But after that, I want to start a family sooner than later and have kids and a fluffy dog. But first I need to find a partner for me. I just aim to live fully and follow my passion for fashion and dance. It will guide me to where I want to be.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Alison: I would say that being afraid is something we all experience. But that fear comes from the unknown. Trust your instincts and they will guide you. Live your truth and the fear will melt away.
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?
Alison: yes totally! The transition itself is a means to get us to the beginning of our main journey, which is life’s journey. The transition is a journey, but it’s also intended to help us find out where to begin the next stage. That’s when we need to let ourselves be free and open and follow our passions. Because we owe it to ourselves to be the best version of ourselves possible. 
Monika: Alison, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Alison: Thank you so much! I had a lovely time.

END OF PART 2

 
All the photos: courtesy of Alison Ashdown.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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