Interview with Victoria Perera - Part 2


Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Victoria: Makeup is something that I was told to just practice and experiment with. I had a makeover with a professional artist and he taught me many of the basics in the one session we had, but mostly I learned through trial and error what worked for my face and features. YouTube tutorials, the prettyfix, and other online resources definitely helped speed up the skill acquisition. Even so, I would say my makeup skills are pretty limited and would definitely benefit from learning more from the many skilled artists out there.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Victoria: This is such a good question and something that I struggle with personally. Of course I love it, but I almost challenge people or try to prove them wrong when complimented on my appearance. It’s almost like a knee jerk reaction. How could they think I’m pretty? Are they crazy?
Accepting a compliment of beauty is somehow a tricky thing for me. What do I say? How should I react? If someone compliments my sense of style or intelligence, that’s easy. I’m confident in those areas and have a more gracious response. But beauty is one of those really weird things as it’s so subjective. It’s an area that I’m working on and feel like I have made some recent strides.

"Makeup is something that I was told to just practice
and experiment with."

Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Victoria: I luckily feel very fortunate to have kept my job throughout my transition. I’m self-employed but my appraising supervisor has been tremendously supportive and has given all of the time I’ve needed for my surgeries. He’s told me that the only thing that would jeopardize my job is the quality of my work and that I’m doing a great job.
I am also fortunate enough to have a job during my transition that had minimal exposure to the public. I can imagine how difficult it would’ve been to meander through the awkward early transition stage for example in a service type field with significant public exposure.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Victoria: The job market is always very competitive. This can be very difficult as you may never know why you weren’t selected for a job. My advice would be to keep that internal confidence high and let your skills and knowledge do the talking. That internal confidence really shines through. So if you have a defeatist type attitude from the outset, it acts as a deterrent to potential employers and the same applies in the opposite case.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Victoria: Before I transitioned, I didn’t personally know a single person who was part of that community. I was terrified they would see through my thin veil. Since transitioning though, I have made many inroads to online communities including Instagram and Discord for example but also connected with people in my local area. One of my very very best friends is part of the community and we have this unbreakable connection. I have also connected with a few groups before the pandemic and found their knowledge and insights so remarkably paralleled my own.
"Accepting a compliment of beauty
is somehow a tricky thing for me."
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Victoria: Without a doubt, this is the single most important desire of my life. I have many loves in this life already. I have the love for my two young boys. I have the love for my friends and family. Now all I need is to love and be loved for the person I really am and in the gender I really am.
The desire to be truly free to express this love for another person as my authentic self is really the last piece of the puzzle of my life. I feel I have the rest of my life in reasonably good working order. All I need now is someone to share it with.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Victoria: Oddly enough I wrote a 35k word one already. I wrote it after I first started transitioning. At the time, it was very therapeutic. An autobiography but it is very raw and unedited and I have evolved significantly since I wrote it. I wouldn’t want to publish that one but I have considered writing a new version.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Victoria: Great question. I’m always planning something. I like having short term and long term goals. Currently, I am still recovering from bottom surgery and dilating eats a lot of my day, but it is soon to get a bit easier. I really haven’t had the chance to experience my life as a woman. Most of my transition occurred during the pandemic. Pre lockdown, I was living life as a man for the most part.
I want to start experiencing this life as the woman I always have been. I don’t mean at the grocery store as much as in more social settings like a bar or club or other nightlife. 5 years from now though. I’m hoping to be in a committed long term relationship with someone I love. I would hope that we would be living together and maybe just maybe I will get to walk down the aisle in the wedding dress I’ve always dreamed of. 
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Victoria: Fear is a very powerful feeling. It is what stopped me from transitioning for a very long time. I feared I would lose it all. I almost lost none of it. The fears were real and the potential loss of everything I held dear was also very legitimate. The reality is, especially these days, many of those fears are unfounded. I didn’t lose my job. My kids still love me and my friends too. If anything, my world is much bigger and has more love than I could’ve ever imagined. But more so than this, fear is what happens before and regret is what happens after. Fear stops it from happening but it can be changed. Regret, on the other hand, happens when it feels like it’s too late and can’t be rectified. What’s worse is that as big and powerful as fear is, regret is much much worse.

"Fear is a very powerful feeling. It is what stopped
me from transitioning for a very long time."

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?
Victoria: Every trans person has the right to make up their own mind on how their journey is to unfold. For me, bottom surgery was always going to happen. I needed it to feel complete.
At the same time, many transwomen I know have no intention of having it. To each his or her own. But more than this, I don’t want to be placed in yet another box. I don’t want to be limited by the rules of being a trans person. We are the outliers. We are the ones who have been able to break free of the constraints of our past, limits of our assigned birth. I want to be me. I don’t want to be a girl or a boy or a transwoman. I don’t need yet another box to tell me who I am and how I’m supposed to act.
If I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that to be truly authentic takes practice. It takes time and self-reflection and nobody can tell you how to do it. In another way, it is the easiest thing in the world. All I have to do is to listen to my heart. It will lead the way.
Monika: Victoria, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Victoria: I really appreciate this Monika. Many of your questions and my answers made me think and I may have shed a tear or two along the way.

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

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