Interview with Lucky Bradley - Part 2

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Lucky: I am not specifically into fashion. I have never really liked the high fashion looks, nor been attracted to women who looked mainstream. My clothing has a wide range but is probably best described as punk/goth/rockabilly. Overall, my look is very much more an alternative fashion. Combat boots, with flamenco skirts (or goth skirts) and hippy tops, tend to go together.
I do sometimes wear jeans and uggs, but usually, I would have large leather studded bracelets or necklaces. It probably doesn’t help that the man I have loved for thirty years started as a woman wearing punk rock clothes in the 1980s.
Also, I think being 6’2” and transgender that it helps if I dress in an alternative fashion, it makes it harder to clock me, and even when they do it tends to make them back off of me instead of trying to antagonize me.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Lucky: An Absolutely Horrific Idea.
Beauty pageants themselves are inherently racist, sexist, and ableist. They are well known for destroying people’s self-esteem, causing people to compete and fight with each other and to tear each other apart. This doesn’t include the idea that they are submitting themselves to other people for an external definition of beauty. They are a horrible way to uphold the “ideal” of “standard beauty”.
Transgender beauty pageants are even worse in my opinion. Transgender people already worry about how much they pass, and it shatters their self-esteem on the best of days. Placing them in a situation where they are now competing with other trans women who can “Pass” more is once again sexist, racist, ableist, and a horrifying way to take advantage of women who are looking for acceptance. Placing a bunch of transgender women on a runway to start judging who is the most beautiful is the worst thing our own community can do, and definitely not something that an outside source should be exploiting.
The only thing worse than a transgender beauty pageant would be a children’s transgender beauty pageant.

"My looks shouldn’t matter but it does reinforce
my ideas of myself. Society is hard on women,
and especially hard on trans women."

Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Lucky: Yes, I have to admit it does make me happy. My looks shouldn’t matter but it does reinforce my ideas of myself. Society is hard on women, and especially hard on trans women. We all have that concern about how we look, and I do admit being complimented helps me with my concern.
The only time I do not like to be complimented is when it is in comparison to others. There have been a couple of occasions that others compared me to other transwomen (or even ciswomen, but especially transwomen) and I feel that is destructive and unnecessary. I don’t like to gauge who “passes” more and I definitely don’t like it used to push others down. I usually object loudly when that happens. Everyone’s looks are valid.
But yes, I do have to admit it does make me feel good on the inside.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Lucky: I haven’t yet had to interview as a woman to an employer that didn’t already know me before transition. In all three agencies I have worked for in the last three years, I had already worked at presenting as a man, so I suspect it wouldn’t be the same thing as coming in new off the streets.
I am sure I got more judgment because of the changes in my looks, but they were less concerned about my ability to do the job itself because I had already worked at those jobs previously and proven my capabilities.
I am terrified if and when I need to search out new jobs, and what it will be like as a transwoman with no background with that company/agency that I am trying to get a job at.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Lucky: I would urge them to consider if they want to out themselves from the beginning or not. I personally will always be upfront about my trans status. I am quite aware that even if they miss that cue in the interview, they will eventually realize it when I start talking about myself or my husband. I am incredibly loud and proud about it and I personally don’t care what others think. I also believe on a personal level being out helps the rest of the community.
I would rather they not hire me to start with than to get in and find out there is a problem being transgender. It makes the initial job hunt harder, but I feel you are more than likely going to find better support once you are there. I don’t want to deal with an employer who hates me.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Lucky: Unfortunately, not. When we were younger the LGBTQ community wasn’t as accepting to bisexual folks (no word for pansexual then), so we didn’t get involved when we were younger.
When my husband transitioned and we lived in another city, I tried to become involved in a group my husband was testing out. When I went to the meetings, all the trans community saw was a cisgender guy who “probably wouldn’t stay” with his newly transitioning husband. I got a lot of pushback and I sort of retracted myself from the situation. It actually probably put back my coming out as trans for a couple of extra years because of it.
When I started my actual transition, we moved to a city with a lot more LGBTQ support. My plan was to get the first few months of transition under my belt and once I had enough “spoons” to meet new people I would get involved in the local LGBTQ center.
Sadly, this happened in the first part of 2020, and my surgeries and COVID-19 sort of knocked that out. I haven’t had time yet to acquaint myself intimately with the local LGBTQ community. I hope when the pandemic ends, we can go out and meet more of our people.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Lucky: Love is everything in my life. I am fortunate that my husband feels the same way. Either one of us would drop everything we have in the city we live in to follow the other to another city and another life if that is what the other person wanted to do.
The reason I am in my career field is purely because as we were in college (as older adults, about 30) and I switched my major to accounting so I could get employment that had medical coverage because my husband was sick and needed it. When we were younger my husband had become a nurse for over 10 years purely so he could support us with enough money to go to school (well that plus huge student loans, but we all know how expensive college is).
We have both switched our careers, the cities we live in, etc. just because the other needed it.
The love isn’t just between us though, we supported my parents for almost two decades before they passed away because we loved them. I would do anything for someone I loved. I guess Love is everything for me.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Lucky: Actually, I already have written a book that is part of my memoir (but only a small part). It is funny because my transition is almost the least interesting part of me.
When my husband transitioned, we found no resources for me as a husband who went from a heterosexual to homosexual marriage. There was a lot of support for women whose spouses transitioned, but none for men who were in the same position just the other direction.
Once I found no support, I decided to start a blog called “Accidentally Gay”. It detailed my life as a husband whose spouse went from being his wife to his husband. Funny enough my very first post on that blog was about me being transgender, but I thought I would never probably go through with transition.
Within a year of starting the blog, I had multiple interviews with podcasts and magazines (NY Mag, The Advocate, etc). Eventually, TLC asked if my husband and I would do a short mini-series with other couples. It turned out we couldn’t do that though. At the time I worked for the US Department of Defense auditing defense contractors and my security clearance meant we couldn’t do something with that much publicity, or I would lose my clearance, so we passed on that opportunity.
Shortly after that, a publisher asked us to write a book based on the blog. The hubby and I wrote it together in the format the publisher asked for (we will be rewriting it when we get the rights back) and published it in 2019. It isn’t a full memoir. It mostly just covers our relationship during my husband’s transition.

"What you need is to find your own truth, you won’t
be happy following someone else’s truth even if they
are transgender as well. Our physical change is
only the beginning."

I have also written a couple of short essays about my husband and me for an LGBTQ quarterly, which was a great experience.
We do have plans to write a fully updated memoir for both of us that would involve my childhood and my transition to female (and my husband’s transition to male) as well as what was covered in the Accidentally Gay blog. It is waiting on my transition surgeries to finish and for the rights to our first book to revert back to us in a couple of years, but it will happen.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Lucky: The biggest thing is hopefully all my transition surgeries/procedures/etc will be finished and I will be wherever I end up at. Other than that, I just see myself enjoying my life with my husband and cat, and hopefully by then maybe I will even have my student loans paid off.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Lucky: Listen to yourself, you know what is right for you. I found for myself, being authentic to myself freed me from so much baggage and self-hate. I still deal with discrimination and pushback, but I found at least for myself that I am much happier living in the skin of someone who I was supposed to be. It probably isn’t as smooth or fully where I would feel if I was born a cisgender woman, but it is far better than where I was three years ago. Just keep moving forward, there is no real destination. The whole process is a journey.
Also, if you are even thinking you might be trans, I would start electrolysis ASAP. It takes far longer than you would imagine, and I would recommend it even before starting HRT if you are hesitating on HRT. Even if you decide not to transition, no one is going to look at you weird for not having a beard.
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?
Lucky: She is absolutely right. We all start at different starting points. Whether it's money, age, how masculine you look. Where other people start and what they have do not matter to your journey. What you need is to find your own truth, you won’t be happy following someone else’s truth even if they are transgender as well. Our physical change is only the beginning.
Monika: Lucky, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Lucky: Thank you for interviewing me Monika, and it was a pleasure to speak with you.

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

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