Interview with Saigon Le - Part 2

Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed? 
Sai: My first will always be Caroline Tula Cossey. She exposed herself to fight for the right to exist without any support. She deserves all of our deep respect and gratitude for all she has done. She set the whole world on fire and the world was never the same. Janet Mock is someone I deeply respect and follow. She is a true woman of substance. She is a survivor, intelligent, and will call out injustice in the face of fear. She is another who blazed a trail for us.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Sai: I remember Tula most importantly I remember the way she carried herself in vulnerability and authenticity the same as Janet Mock. When these two women talk, you know it comes from a place of truth.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Sai: I think we have come a long way, I credit the trans people who are on the frontlines that never gave in to despair. Our journey will always need activism so we need to be resilient and accepting of this burden. Every tear will yield fruit and every fruit will bear seeds.

"Your ENTIRE life should not be consumed by being
trans, just by being a survivor is already a form
of activism."

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Sai: I love fashion but mostly I love comfort. I like florals for special occasions. I believe the effort you put forth to look your best for a special event is a compliment to those that organized it. If I had to choose jewelry I would choose bold statement pieces. Definitely Cartier.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Sai: Every day is an experiment. Constantly changing products and styles. That is the secret to a really great face. I’m never complacent. Others may find it a burden to do makeup but I revel in it. I find it euphoric to paint my face and see the beauty come through. It is a real rush. I have it down to a science every day, less than five minutes each morning! Skincare is another luxury I enjoy, pinning my hair up with soft music, dimmed lights; I cleanse, massage, hydrate my skin, and literally am on cloud nine. Pure paradise!
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Sai: Yes, I find it wonderful to receive a compliment. I mostly only get compliments from my patients. I almost never receive compliments from men. Whatever compliments I do receive is pure bliss.
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Sai: I remember the first job interview. My trans status was not an issue. I do not believe anyone knew nor cared after I came out.
Monika: What would you advise to all transwomen looking for employment?
Sai: My advice would be to just be excellent at what you do. Employers want someone valuable. There is no room to be mediocre. No one will care what and who you are if you have extraordinary skill sets. Your trans status should not be a topic for your job. Secure the job first, then you can slowly reveal more of yourself later on.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Sai: I am not currently involved in the trans community. However, I did do a little speaking at colleges with an LGBTQ group before the pandemic.

"Through the years I've met many writers who wanted
to write about my life but it was never completed."

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Sai: Love is the only reason for living. Loving yourself can only come from loving God. 
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Sai: Through the years I've met many writers who wanted to write about my life but it was never completed.
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Sai: Hopefully I will be in a long-lasting relationship and get married. I am definitely going to have more surgeries.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women that are afraid of transition?
Sai: I can only speak from experience. Live for yourself and be a blessing to others. You only have one life.
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?
Sai: I absolutely agree. Your ENTIRE life should not be consumed by being trans, just by being a survivor is already a form of activism.
Monika: Sai, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Sai: Thank you, Monika! It was a pleasure!


All the photos: courtesy of Saigon Le.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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