Interview with Joelle Circé Laramée - Part 2


Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, many trans women lose their families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Joelle: Yes, it was something of a let down to be sure, asides from a couple of family members, most didn't care for what was going on with me and I could feel and see it, being misgendered, dead named, and so on caused me to become depressed and fatalistic for a while until I met Dany who's love gave me strength enough to push through everything and come out the other side.
I lost family and friends when I came out, not that most were mean to me, they mostly had difficulty wrapping their heads around my coming out. Because I was an artist and pretty much already on the outside of what might be considered usual heteronormative life, I never really had long-lasting jobs to lose and was used to not being anything other than an artist, so not a big status loss. The worst for me I think was because I'm really good at observing what goes on around me as an artist, I could also pick up on some people's reactions towards me, even when subtle.
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will be always judged accordingly. Is there any other way on how to cope with this?
Joelle: Maybe simply be ourselves with all that this entails as we will always only be who we are and this is something to be celebrated which is not to say that we should not have any surgeries because I know I've had a few and am all the happier for them but it doesn't change who I am as a woman. Passing isn't simply a matter of appearance, of getting this or that surgery, it's also about the work we put into being our true selves as women, at least this is what it is for me.

"High Femme"- oil on canvas
by Joelle Circé Laramée.
Source: Circe's Art Gallery.

My voice was my major stumbling block until I realized that even cis women can have a lower voice register and that this had more to do with how I used words, inflections, and breath. I know it's not easy for trans women to accept themselves to see their true beauty in their own eyes and yet it's all there, and I think the work to be done is more on how to live in this new body and unlearn certain habits and embrace new ones better fitted to our identities.
Monika: I wish I could have transitioned earlier myself. Do you have the same regrets? 
Joelle: Of course, I would have really been so happy transitioning earlier but sadly I was rather oblivious to such things as transsexuality as a younger me even if I knew I was in the wrong body.
The whole concept of transition wasn't something I heard much about and when I finally did figure this out, I wasn't in a position to do anything about it until I met Dany. I will say this though, I have no regrets of having transitioned and I am so in love with who I am today.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects or paintings now?
Joelle: Yes, I am currently working on a painting of the owner of a women's boxing club, she sometimes goes as Coach Kapow and her Gym is in Toronto, Canada. I'm also taking a fresh look at a painting I created called "The Space Between", which is about a woman of trans origin in a bathhouse with other women yet separated from them, and you can view it on my new website at: circes-art.com.
Monika: if you could ask any famous woman from the past or now to be your model, whom would you ask and why? :)
Joelle: Wow, if only that were possible, Amelia Earhart, Sojourner Truth, Audre Lord, Sylvia Rivera, Laverne Cox, Camille Claudel, Lili Elbe, Janet Mock, Janelle Monae, Lily Tomlin are but a few who fit this desire but if I can only choose one it would be Lili Elbe because she was also a painter and I would have loved to do sit with her and chat about how she dealt with life as a woman of trans origin and being an artist, I would have loved to do her portrait from life. 
Monika: I love Lili Elbe too. I read both the book and watched the movie. What I like most is her relationship with Gerda Gottlieb, a romantic story of two ladies living in Paris, going out together dressed in furs and beautiful gowns. Did you see the paintings of Gerda Gottlieb? 
Joelle: Yes, such a beautiful and tragic story for both women, Gerda painted in an Art Nouveau style I think and Lili was into landscapes if I remember. I think doing a double portrait of the two of them would have been wonderful had we lived in the same time period.

"Yellow Wallpaper" - oil on canvas by Joelle Circé Laramée.
Source: Circe's Art Gallery.

Monika: How important is love in your life?
Joelle: Like most humans, I love being loved, and when Dany and I met little did I know that we'd end up married and having a deep love for one another, she is my rock. 
I think love is a concept difficult to do without and there is all kinds of love, some profound and lasting decades, others lighter and filled with magic and awesomeness, and then there's how we love nature and objects and animals. The most difficult and hard to maintain is the love of oneself yet so rewarding.
Monika: If some of our readers would like to buy your painting or be a model, how can they do it?
Joelle: That is a big yes on both counts, it would be an honor for me as I am always on the lookout for models or of obtaining photos, they just need to be of good quality, no promises I will use them as it all has to be in the context of my queer women series but as I mentioned earlier, size, race, age, that doesn't matter to me as much as the scene or look.
Monika: Can they expect any discount if they say that they have read this interview?
Joelle: It would be my pleasure to give an extra 10% discount on any of the paintings up for sale and already some are on discount prices, not the prints as I have less control over that. 
Monika: Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and take care of yourself in these troublesome times of COVID-19.

All the photos: courtesy of Joelle Circé Laramée.
© 2020 - Monika Kowalska
  

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