Interview with Kara - Part 2

Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Kara: I enjoy being admired as much as the next girl, maybe a little more, haha. I've gotten a lot better at receiving compliments. I am still working on silencing my inner critic that always adds "for a transwoman" after every compliment mentally. My gender dysphoria makes me do mental gymnastics constantly and plants seeds of insecurity.
At times, I struggle to accept that I am conventionally attractive and passable. I've found myself in precarious situations before where I think men have pure intentions, and it comes from a place of not believing that people find me attractive. It also depends on people's intentions when they compliment. I've been on the brunt end of "compliments", such as "you're actually really attractive", "it's like you're the real thing" or "I'm sure you fool all the guys". 
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Kara: When I first graduated from college, I applied only to LGBTQ non-profits as a woman. I wanted a safe place to transition where my identity was affirmed, no questions asked. I wasn't confident enough to go out and see the non-LGBTQ job market for myself, for better or for worse, until I had transitioned. My heart is in the work that I do for the community, but it also doubles as self-preservation from the outside world. I want to break that glass ceiling when I'm ready.

"I want to break that glass ceiling
when I'm ready."

Monika: What would you advise to all trans people looking for employment?
Kara: Even in California where employers can't legally discriminate against LGBTQ identities, implicit bias and prejudice is very much a reality. You can't legally fire a person based on gender or sexual orientation; however, employers still willfully choose not to hire certain groups of people, including trans people.
The system is stacked against trans people trying to find employment. Sometimes you have to walk the walk and talk the talk to even get your foot in the door. Assimilation isn't weakness or selling out when your survival depends on it. Play by the rules, then break them. Infiltrate, then start change from the inside out. If there isn't a seat, make one and show them what you bring to the table. And remember, rejection is never a smear on your worth.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Kara: I work full time for a non-profit serving LGBTQ homeless youth. I was first runner-up for Miss QUEST 2017, a trans advocacy pageant. I am an activist in the community and have spoken at rallies, conferences, and festivals.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Kara: I think love takes many forms. I wouldn't be the woman that I am today if not from the love of my chosen family. I'm a romantic at heart. Don't get me wrong, I've definitely looked for love in all the wrong places before. I think the universe gives back what you put in, and as cliché as it sounds, you really need to love yourself before you can love somebody else. I would very much like to marry the love of my life one day, but if I didn't, I wouldn't feel unfulfilled. My life is already filled with so much love, and the more I give, the more I receive.

"I wouldn't be the woman that I am today
if not from the love of my chosen family."

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Kara: A book, film, and TV series - someone get me an agent so I can pitch my story! I think my life would make for great entertainment, and who knows, the audience may learn a thing or two in the process. Edutainment at its finest.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Kara: I plan on completing my medical transition within the next year. I tell myself that I might then have the courage to venture out and see what the world has to offer. In anything that I do, I know I will always endeavor to give a voice to a community that has been systemically silenced. I want to continue my comedy, and who knows, maybe write for TV or even get that Netflix special. The world is my oyster, and the possibilities are endless.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Kara: I would encourage my sisters to take things at their own pace and on their own terms. Transition is a deeply personal decision, and there is nothing wrong with taking your time. Take heart in knowing that you are not alone, and that you are on the right path towards becoming who you always were, blossomed and still blossoming!
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?
Kara: Yes and no. I believe that all people, including those who are trans, should not limit themselves to anything. Something that hindered my decision to transition was the stark lack of representation when it came to successful trans people. I yielded to this limiting belief that the only times trans people make the headlines is when they are a celebrity or when they are killed. In my limited exposure to the trans community, I was led to believe that sex work was the only viable option for a transwoman. This was the life presented to me by the world at large, but I refuse to be limited to a single path. I am forging a new path for myself and for my community.

"I am forging a new path for myself and
for my community."

I've been a fair share of firsts in my and many others' lives, and I refuse to be the last. I don't think our dreams begin on an operating table. For some, the operating table may be a tool to aid in one's journey, but that doesn't mean it's a tool that will be utilized by everyone. I don't buy into the mentality of "if I just had this one thing, all my dreams would come true". I think that line of thinking is a recipe for disappointment. Rather, I have dreams that may come true, including my transition, but I won't have all my dreams depend on a single operation.
Monika: Kara, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Kara: Thank YOU, Monika. It's been an absolute pleasure!

All the photos: courtesy of Kara on Instagram @karageous.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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