Interview with Monica Mulholland - 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?
Monica: Up until recently, TGs have been portrayed very negatively in the media; and this, in no small way, has contributed to the suicide rate and to seeing being TG as a curse. It is only through coming out (if it is safe to do so) and showing ourselves that we can change the image. That is why role models are so important. One of my coming out mantras has been “making transgender normal” and the more people I can meet and show that, despite being TG, I am a normal and fairly well-adjusted person, that we can change the image. Following that mantra, I take every opportunity to publicize the TG issue and to put myself out there in front of people. I never apologize for not being a cisgender woman. The Art of Feminine Presence helped me greatly to get to this point.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Monica: I am very privileged to have been schooled by Ginger Burr of Total Image Consultants. This was another major piece of software for me. She really helped me discover my colors and styles and this has made a tremendous difference to how I am accepted socially. Most of my wardrobe is Johnny Boden, and Kettlewell.
I love dresses, so much so that I recently set myself the challenge of wearing a dress every day for a month (not the same one, I hasten to add, lol!). It is just so easy to reach out for leisurewear or jeans. I like to dress things up with different jewelry and scarves. I really enjoy the creativity of putting an outfit together. My other mantra is “go hard or go home” and so I go out or my way to be as feminine as I can be (that is not “frilly feminine”, but rather reflecting the femininity I see in the women around me on a daily basis, but with my own creative twists). I see Monica as my work of art I suppose.

Another before and after photo by Don Hajicek.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Monica: Love is very important in my life, both the love of my friends and the love of my wife. My wife is an amazing woman, she (after some initial trepidation) has been fully supportive of my transition and is one of my biggest supporters in the TG cause. We have been together since our first date in 1976. When I knew that she was “the one” I told her about my secret. That was an enormous risk for me as she knew my family and some of her relations were friends of mine. We lived in a small town in Ireland and if this had got out, my life would have been hell... in more ways than one! :)
She has stood by me through thick and thin and she has an amazing ability that when life gives her lemons, not only does she make lemonade, she goes further and makes gin and tonic! She lights me up! 
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
Monica: The thing about dysphoria is that everybody’s dysphoria is different. I can only comment on what helped me come to terms with it. This worked for me, it may well work for some others; but it is far from being a prescription that will help everybody. I would suggest that a person struggling with dysphoria should look at how it was tackled by others and experiment to see which parts might work for them.
My revelations were: we are not genetic women we are transgender women, comparing ourselves to genetic women is a recipe for depression and negative self-worth. I accept the fact that I am a transgender woman and I strive to be the best transgender woman that I can be. This has taken a huge weight off my shoulders and set me on a positive path instead of a negative one. Brenee Brown, in her TED talks on vulnerability and shame, helped me greatly in this respect.

At the Art of Feminine Presence in Austin.

My other great revelation was this: if I was an American who wanted to learn Japanese say, then going to Japan and hanging around with other Americans who wanted to learn Japanese is not the best strategy. Total immersion was the only approach that seemed sensible for me. Hence I spent a lot of time with genetic women, on online courses, and in real life. The Art of Feminine Presence was the best thing that I ever did. It immersed me with kind and supportive genetic women which helped build my confidence and put me in touch with my femininity at a much deeper level than I could have done by myself.
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?
Monica: Yes, I do. Like I said earlier “The Vag is not the badge”. There is so much more to being a woman than being the owner of a vagina! I think, in the face of the horrendous suicide figures, we have an ethical duty to do all we can to make being transgender a normal and everyday part of life. Having something bigger than yourself, all the spiritual gurus agree, is a great way out of the many self-centric traps that people can fall into from time to time.
Monika: Monica, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Monica P Mulholland.
© 2017 - Monika Kowalska

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