The people you see in this issue illustrate trans life in their corner of the world, and help show us the true meaning of beauty, international or otherwise. Our two part interviews cover both the cultural heritage and personal beliefs of these brave individuals, and inspire greater understanding of transgender experiences around the world.
Shelbe Chang, Taiwan
Part one of this interview can be found in Transformation 96: The International Issue
What do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy going to the movies, going to different restaurants, trying different types of food and lastly hanging out with my trans friends and allies.
Transition is physical, emotional, and social, all of which present different types of challenges. Tell us about your experience of them if you could. I pretty much had the same experience as most of the trans girl in the beginning, which was “cross-dressing” in mom’s or sister’s clothing in closet/at home. At the time, I had no idea what, where and why was this action of mine came from and I didn’t even know the term, “Transgender” until about 4 years ago. A friend of mine who knew about me dressing, took me to Jamie Jameson’s “Tgirl Nights” in Long Beach, California. I was shocked that this type of event and place existed. I then started making friends with many people and exchanging stories and experiences. I continued to learn, understand and explored the Trans* community here in LA. During the first year and half, I was only able to go out on the weekends once a month in “girl mode”. I was anxious and couldn’t wait for that monthly Saturday to arrive. Even though I didn’t REALLY face any kind of BIG challenges like some other trans sisters and brothers, I did take my transitioning journey very cautiously, slow and patiently. I was not feeling fully comfortable with myself when I was out and about at first then I practiced on my makeup and went out more and more to gain self confidence on my appearance and inner self courage with respect. Finally, after my fourth year out in the “public”, I decided to take my step forward and start living to be my true self 24/7. I started HRT in 2015.
What are you the most proud of so far in your life? What are you working towards now? I’m proud of myself for making the decision to be who I really am and choose to live the life of being me. I’m working on finishing up “LGBT Love Stories” and continue to empower transgender voices and raise awareness on transgender lives through acting, dialogue, and photography in both front of the camera and behind the scenes.
Can you tell me about your family? Parents, siblings, extended? How did they influence who you are? I lived with my grandparents growing up. They played a major role and influenced me the most on manners, morals and helping others when anyone is in need, even strangers.
What has acceptance come to mean to you? FEAR is the blocker of understanding. Learning and accepting are the first steps to withdrawal from the box. We are all human, we desire to live and be loved.