Interview with Katerina - Part 2


Monika: Is the Russian Health Service ready to provide medical services to transgender women?
Katerina: Yes. In terms of medicine, everything is more or less good here, as far as I know. Doctors don't refuse to provide assistance to transgender people, there are even narrow-profile specialists who are competent in this.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Katerina: I don't follow fashion and try to have my own style - as feminine and sophisticated as possible. I love pretty dresses, high heels, and gold jewelry.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Katerina: No. For many years I have been doing the same makeup that suits my face type. 
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Katerina: Yes, like any woman :)
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Katerina: I have never tried to get an official job as a woman. This is too difficult, almost impossible in such xenophobic countries as Russia and Ukraine, especially when your profession is not IT or other similar activities which you can do alone, but involves a lot of publicity. By the way, I am a teacher and philologist by education. Actually, that's why I chose to work as an escort, as it gave me the opportunity to earn money for the transition. I guess I have already explained this.

"I do not expect anything good from people at all, and
even more so from homophobic and transphobic people,
who believe that geeks like me should be shot."

Several times I was invited to TV channels, but I did not want publicity, preferring to be known only in the LGBT community and among admirers (people who love transsexuals). In countries like Russia and Ukraine, it is not safe to be openly transgender. Now only people who are interested in this topic know my face, but if I am shown on television, neighbors, shop assistants, employees of various institutions that I visit may find out about my transgender status, even on the street and in a café, someone will be able to recognize me, and the consequences are unlikely to be favorable for me.
I do not expect anything good from people at all, and even more so from homophobic and transphobic people, who believe that geeks like me should be shot, which is a literal quote. I once heard it with my own ears from a law enforcement representative, and also received threats on the phone when I worked as an escort.
There are plenty of transphobic people here. And they can do a lot of harm to me as well as to another transgender or gay person, and the law actually protects them, not us. On paper, of course, xenophobia is prohibited, but in real life, the government and the authorities encourage it because it is beneficial to them, and society mostly condemns transgender, not transphobia.
If in the future I engage in social activities, then willy-nilly I will have to publicly declare my transsexuality, but so far I have not dared to do so. Although I still plan to get a law degree in order to help other LGBT people.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Katerina: Hold on! This is the only thing I can say. I am not the most suitable person to give advice on this matter, since I could not, or rather, did not dare to get employment, as my diploma has been covered with dust for many years, and it has never been used.
However, in the future, as I said, I would like to engage in public activities in the legal sphere with regard to the LGBT community. I just need to have the courage to openly declare my transgender status. And get the appropriate qualifications, of course.

In the future, I would like to engage in public activities in the legal
sphere with regard to the LGBT community. I just need to have
the courage to openly declare my transgender status.

Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Katerina: Not much. But I recently took part in an international conference on the rights of women in general and trans women in particular (by Zoom). I also participated in a conference on PREP and other issues that are indirectly related to the LGBT community. I used to write a lot on trans forums, give advice and support transgender people if they turn to me.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Katerina: It is very important in the life of all people, without exception. There is no love in my life now, but I don't lose hope of finding it one day.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Katerina: I'm not a horror fan, so most likely not :)
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Katerina: Many times I made plans for the future, which then failed, and it was very upsetting. And it was even more upsetting when I told everyone about them, and in case of failure, everyone knew about it. Therefore, now I try not to make long-term plans, and if I do, I won't tell anyone.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Katerina: "Overcome fear and begin the transition, what else?" It was my first answer. But then I thought that it's more complicated and one should not give general advice in this matter, such advice is unlikely to help, and can even harm.
If a person is afraid of transition, it's necessary to find out the reason for the fear first. What is this person afraid of? Is he afraid that he will lose family and friends or that the transition will simply be unsuccessful, will not work, will not bring satisfaction? Or is he afraid for his health and life, living in a country where such things are extremely condemned by society?

"If a person is afraid of transition, it's necessary to find
out the reason for the fear first."

In each case, the advice should be different. How to deal with fears, complexes and weaknesses is another question, very individual. Someone can give up everything and go through this difficult path alone, like me, while someone else vitally needs support, approval, and understanding from friends and relatives. Someone has nothing to lose and nothing holds him back, while someone else has a hard-built life - a family, a career, a position in society. Someone lives in tolerant Europe, and someone in the Muslim East. Someone is young, someone is not. Someone has money, someone doesn't. It is impossible to give advice here without knowing the situation of a particular person.
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?
Katerina: Partially. I agree with the first part of the statement. Perhaps I didn't understand the second one about the operating table. Everyone has their own dreams. Someone's dreams are associated with the operating table, someone's not. There are many transgender people living without a full SRS, like me, for example. So far, I have had no operation in my thoughts, and even more so in my dreams. But if it was figurative, then yes, I believe that dreams should not end at all.
Monika: Katerina, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Katerina: The pleasure was mine. Thank you, Monika!

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

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