Around the time that Nicola's autobiography, TEA AND TRANSITION, was published she also gave many interviews to media around the world. This is an excerpt from one with blogger Monika Kowalska from 2015.
Q: Why did you decide to write your autobiography?
A: In fact, it started out as a journal, a diary, I didn’t set out to write a book. It was relatively early in my transition and I realized that I was having experiences and going through events that had never happened before and may not happen again. Starting hormones, the first therapy session, and so on. After a few months, I thought, hmmm, maybe this could become a book! Then I started to view my writing in a different light and made a point of noting experiences as they happened. Even if they were just a few notes that I could elaborate on later.
Q: Which aspects of your experience can be useful for other transwomen?
A: I'd like to think that the main one is to never give up communication, even when you think there is no point. That's a moral for anyone of course, not just for trans people. In my case, this was the relationship with my Mum. When I first told her that I was trans, she was devastated and thought the world was over. But we never gave up and we always kept a dialogue going. Sometimes it was truly hard, and at other times we both ended up in tears, but we got there in the end. Now our relationship is better than it ever was.
Q: Your story is beefed up with the legendary British sense of humor…
A: Beefed up?! I'm vegetarian so those words offend me! I'm kidding of course! Well, I think the best way to tell a story like mine is with a sense of humor. And there really were very many funny and unexpected moments in my transition and so by telling of those I hope it helps get the message across that not all transgender stories are sad or depressing.
Q: You have traveled all over the world: the Middle East, China, Hong Kong, the USA …
A: Honestly, I think travel is addictive for me. If I don't get to exercise my passport every few months then I get restless! I live in New York City these days which I adore, but I still like to visit Asia when I can and also back to the UK as well. But in my 20s and 30s, I worked as a club DJ working in different countries around the world, yes. My first overseas DJ gig was at a five-star hotel just by the pyramids in Egypt! It seems like a different life now, but as I was a man back then, maybe it really was a different life.
Q: At what age did you transition into a woman yourself?
A: I was a late starter! I was in my 40s when I started to transition, but I didn't feel the conflict until that time. When I did, I think my life experience helped guide me through the process. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to transition in my 20s but I really hadn't felt the ‘calling’ back then. Whether I was transgender at that time but didn't realize it or if I became trans later in life, I really don't know, but it really doesn't matter to me. I am transgender now and I have accepted that.
Q: Did you have any support from your family or friends?
A: As far as support goes, that really was a vital aspect of my transition. To have friends openly accept me as a woman when before they had known me as a man, was so wonderful and put me very much at ease. Even small things like going to the washroom together or complimenting me on a shade of lipstick or color of the dress were hugely validating. Of course, it wasn't all plain sailing and I lost one life-long friend who couldn't accept me as a woman. But overall I was quite surprised at the level of acceptance I had from old family friends. I assume that they could see a new life in me as a woman. That’s what I saw in me for sure.
Q: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you followed?
A: I really don't think I did. I was simply following my own path rather than being guided by someone else.
Q: Are there are any transgender ladies that you admire and respect now?
A: It's hard not to respect EVERY transgender woman! All of us have needed to address something in ourselves that we hadn't expected. Consequently, we are all survivors.
Q: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
A: I'm never sure what I think about that term, “coming out.” I know it's the obvious one to use, but like so many matters trans, we need to update the vocabulary! But the hard aspects for me were especially in the early days when I felt like a 'she' but I was called 'he'. Unkind comments on the street or sniggers on the subway were never easy either, but we all have to deal with this sort of bigotry. Likewise being called 'he' on the phone was always so depressing. I've done a lot of work on my voice since and so that audible mismatch happens much more rarely, but I still have to be on my guard to sound like the woman that I am.
Q: What is your general view on transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
A: It is good to see trans people and issues gaining a greater presence in the media but I'd like to see more trans people just being who they are within film and TV, without having to be prefaced as “the transgender actress”. There's still a long way to go before we get to that point.
Q: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
A: Dating as a transgender woman is particularly hard as many guys don't see us as completely female. The irony is that I am more femme than many genetic/cis women that I know! But I'm confident that the right man is right around the corner.
Q: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear?
A: I like style more than I follow fashion. Designer fashion and stars of the runway do not interest me. In my early days of transitioning I probably wore clothes that were too small or too tight, but these days I am far more aware of what works well on me - and what doesn't!
Q: What would you say to all transgender girls struggling with gender dysphoria?
A: You are not alone. You are not weird. You are YOU. It is OK to be confused or conflicted or not sure of everything as you find your path. Talk about it with people who have experience and don't be afraid if you don't have all the answers. Maybe you will transition in some way, maybe you will not – the end game is not the same for everyone. Be honest to yourself, and the rest of the world will follow.
In 2021 Monika is still blogging and has an amazing range of interviews on her website: https://theheroines.blogspot.com/