Interview with Koko Jones - Part 2

Monika: What do you think in general about transgender news stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Koko: Well for the most part trans people in the past have been objectified and sensationalized in books, movies, and television shows. We were once the comedic relief in many portrayals in the past. It’s good to see that there are a few serious roles being given trans people but I feel we have such a long way to go. We are still looked upon as a novelty or as a comical caricature in many cases. I think our lived experiences as trans women need to be affirmed in the media. The more visible we are the better.

At Club 57/ P3ligro Dance Party.

Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Koko: Honestly, I think politics in America are horrible! I think that we need to dismantle the current system. I would like to see more representation from trans people on the political front. However, the current political climate in America makes it difficult for any real change to happen.
I do belong to TWOCC (Trans Women of Color Collective) which was founded in response to the murder of Islan Nettles here in New York City in 2013. TWOCC is about creating revolutionary change by uplifting the narratives, leadership, and lived experiences of trans people of color. We were once a National organization and now TWOCC has gone global!
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Koko: Well I love fashion because true fashion is all about art. I have shifted my own attire recently to reflect my lifestyle a little more accurately. I love all of the ethnic looks I can put together, pulling off of African, Indian, and Native themes I like to be comfortable for the most part so I would say I love the bohemian vibe more than anything. Some of my fashion idols are Erykah Badu, India Irie, (drummer) Cindy Blackman-Santana. I will from time to time pull off an elegant evening gown but for right now, comfort is the name of the game.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Koko: Well I will answer this honestly and truthfully. About a year and a half ago I suffered a large brain bleed that required emergency brain surgery. Ever since then my love life has taken a back seat.
For me right now a relationship isn’t of high importance. I do think we all need love. We all need to be held and told that we are loved. It’s part of being a human being; a part of the human experience. But I have many people in my life that love me like friends and family. For me, that’s enough right now.

Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Koko: Well I’m actually in the process of writing my memoir. I have close to 300 pages written already. Unfortunately, my brain surgery has kept me from continuing the writing process but I’ve been getting back to it in the past 4 months or so.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Koko: Besides getting bookings for my band we are currently starting to write new material for our next album. I’m also starting to investigate possibilities of doing another project with my old band called Tenth World which was mainly a Jazz/World Music group. I just signed with awQward Talent, a booking agency that seeks to support and empower trans and queer artists of color. I will be doing all kinds of workshops and performances around the country including many colleges and universities.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Koko: I would recommend getting all of the knowledge they can about who they are. I think that all girls or women struggling need to be affirmed and recognized and given a voice. We are living in a society that devalues women. If I can say one thing, to them it would be, “You are priceless, you are enough, just as you are. You are worthy of being heard and your life matters. Your imperfections do not matter; we are all part of an imperfect world and it is your imperfections that make you beautiful.”
Monika: Koko, thank you for the interview!
Koko: Thank you! It’s been my pleasure!

The main photo credits: Rebecca Meek.

You can reach Koko Jones at:

Watch other videos of Koko Jones:

All the photos: Courtesy of Koko Jones.
© 2015 - Monika Kowalska

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