Interview with Amber Washington - Part 2


Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Amber: Caroline Cossey (Tula) was the first transgender person I ever saw. She appeared on the Phil Donohue show in the early 80s. She was the person that made me understand I was not alone.
The first transgender person or I should say, persons, I ever met was after a gig in New Orleans at a transgender nightclub. I sat and talked with the girls into the early morning hours.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Amber: We just came out of four disastrous years of transphobia here in the United States, and on a scale, we have never seen. The Biden administration holds a lot of promise for the transgender community. However, transgender rights are once again under attack in more than a dozen states in our union. From the outlawing of necessary puberty blockers to our transgender youth as well as other transgender healthcare concerns to laws governing transgender athletes and discriminatory bathroom legislation created out of mythology.
It is also still legal in more than 30 states to allow the dangerous, unscientific, and unrealistic practice of conversion therapy. The United States has a long hard road ahead of her to come out of what many of us call, “The cultural stone age”.

Amber's website.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Amber: I transitioned full-time here in Florida, so part of the year I literally live in leggings, sweat pants, and long skirts. In the late spring and summer, I’m always in shorts or light skirts. My colors range from whites to blacks, with an average around blues, greens, and purples. I have blue eyes I like to bring out. Obviously, I love shoes and cute sandals. I don’t have enough. LOL.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Amber: Sometimes. But I have gotten into a daily routine. LOL.
I’m a bit of a minimalist with makeup, but depending on where I am going or doing for the day and/or evening, I sometimes experiment with different looks especially around the eyes.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Amber: In a word. Yes. I have been so down-trodden on my looks and incongruity for so long that compliments do help. But more so, affirmation is the most important thing for me. I’m not in a beauty pageant. I simply want to finally fit in. One of the most difficult things transgender women deal with is self-deprecation. We need to lift each other up more often. 
In fact, all women need to do this more often. The positive effects are amazing.
Monika: Do you remember your first job or project interview as a woman? 
Amber: I was already working for a consultancy when I came out to everyone at our office building. Within a week, everyone knew, and it was a very positive and affirming experience.
When I became an author, I had to present my book and potential speaking platform to my publisher. That too was a very rewarding and positive experience.

"Think for a moment about the innate sense you have to transition.
Then think about what it is you are most afraid of."

Monika: What would you advise all trans women looking for employment?
Amber: For many years, I helped vocalists and other performers overcome stage fright. Many of us that are trans go through a different type of stage fright. Much of that stage fright comes from gender-critical and more often than not, irrational fear. So it is critical for each of us to do our best to move past it, unapologetically.
During an interview, be personable and be sure to make eye contact with unwavering confidence. Let them know you are the right person for the job. Relax and just be you.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Amber: We have a large LGBTQ+ community in St. Petersburg, Florida. In fact, each year we host one of the largest pride events in the United States. I know a lot of wonderful folks in the community and am very active with several local organizations and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. It's important to have friends and by association, a support network.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Amber: I have the unconditional love of my entire family, including my children. I feel blessed in that regard. I spent most of my life attempting to find true spousal love, but in an unnatural way. I married women, even though from a natural perspective, I was not attracted to them that way. By doing this over and over again, I denied myself the opportunity of having a loving and very natural relationship with a good man. Perhaps someday soon I will bump into him. Until then, I am happy with my life and status.

NPR Affiliate WJFF. RADIO CHATSKILL speaks
with Amber about her memoir. Source: YouTube.

Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Amber: I am riding a wave right now. I have ridden a few waves in my life, just as I am doing now because of the success of my book and my aspirations to help others in my community and beyond.
I am currently writing two new books. I have an amazing podcast series coming this spring of 2021, called “The Journey, Unscripted” – The stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I have been asked to sit on the board of multinational transgender advocacy and policy-making organization. And have also been asked to co-write a supernatural thriller screenplay with a well-known and established screenwriter.
In five years I hope to have gained enough reach to help affect faster change in a world that is extremely slow embracing things it doesn’t understand yet. I don’t want to see the transgender youth of today struggle as my generation did due to systemic bias and misinformation. But, I am an entertainer through and through, so it is my hope that I will be in a position where I am hosting my own large-scale show and to be a voice for those that cannot be heard.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Amber: Think for a moment about the innate sense you have to transition. Then think about what it is you are most afraid of. Usually, you will see those fears revolve around external personal loss, the loss of family, friends, employment, etc. These are all real concerns, but they don’t change the fact that who you are is who you are.
Transition is much like getting over stage fright, which coincidentally is my next book due for release in June 2021. Remember, this fear was not created by you, but by society itself. We all must go on our own individual journeys while simultaneously facing our individual fears. What you will find is that most of your fears are actually quite irrational. The key is confidence, and that is no small trait to acquire. As transgender people, we tend to self-deprecate. This is due, in part to our incongruity. Don’t let your incongruity define you. At some point, you need to “own it”. You got this!
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?
Amber: In all honesty, I think I would explain it this way, “Our dreams should not begin on an operating table, rather, should be permitted to grow and flourish instead of being crushed by societal bias we all-to-often face.”
For many of us, societal bias crushes our dreams when we are very young. No child should have their dreams crushed just because they were born differently. All transgender people: pre-op, post-op, and non-op, should embrace their uniqueness, beauty, and self-worth with unapologetic, unwavering determination and confidence; regardless of the outer shell, we are wrapped within.
Monika: Amber, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Amber: Thank you, Monika! The pleasure was all mine.

END OF PART 2

 
All the photos: courtesy of Amber Rose Washington.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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