The following interview recently ran in ALM Magazine!
Tell me a little about yourself.
I am a proud transwoman, who has always dreamed of being a beautiful woman! And now I have been able to live those dreams, having recently walked New York Fashion Week. I have been able to walk a number of shows, have been published in three, now four magazines and have also been in five movies, including one upcoming Netflix production. Realizing how wonderful it has been to become that woman I always knew was inside of me has brought great joy into my life. I now do whatever I can to pay it forward. My blog, Kandi’s Land, is an inspiration to many other girls like myself. Be happy, spread joy!
As I stated, I am indeed a transwoman. I am proud of that! I am proud of myself for all that it took to get to this point. However, I have not completely transitioned and have no plans to do so. I live my life in two genders and am comfortable in each. Life is not always fair, but I am blessed beyond words. There is a way, there is tremendous good, but you have to look for it.
I took a vow almost 36 years ago to be a husband to my wife and that vow is what I live my life by. I am her husband and that is my top priority in my life. I have written about this extensively. I am completely open and honest about who and what I am on many public platforms, most openly on my blog. We are parents to two grown daughters.
There are so many like me, women at heart that cannot be themselves for one reason or another. As such, I hope to help give many a voice or assist in any way I can by setting an example.
Q: When did you first begin to understand that you are transgender?
Only recently. For almost 50 years of my life, I struggled with what I thought was crossdressing. But for much of that time, there were things that occupied my mind otherwise, be they a job or helping raise our children. Then in late 2014, the urges, which I had always denied to myself, became too great to bear. I always hated myself for these urges, I never embraced them. I can look back at many behaviors that existed in a vain attempt to “normalize” myself. At that moment, I admitted to myself what I am and began to accept myself. This is why you see many transwomen from hyper-masculine professions or activities. It is that voice inside telling them their feeling are not valid, to try and be “normal”.
The process of self-acceptance transformed me. I began to enjoy wearing women’s clothing. I stopped beating myself up about it. I lost a lot of weight and became a decent athlete (I’ll be competing in this year’s Boston Marathon). I became internally happy! Once I admitted this to myself, I then admitted it to my wife and she simply wished for my happiness! What a gift!!
So I have evolved over the subsequent seven years, growing as a woman and enjoying my dual genders. I would have to say last year was when I then admitted I was not a crossdresser, I was and am, in my heart, a woman. But I would never wish to change anything in the circumstances of my life.
Q: Have your friends and family been supported of your transition?
Most have no idea. My body transformations are the same as an athlete would undergo, so my competitive running left no real reason for anyone to question me. And without going into personal details, I have been through FAR worse things in my life. So I am able to put my gender issues in their proper perspective.
My wife and one daughter have no issue. I still have to tell the other daughter, which I will at the proper time. None of my friends that know me “otherwise” know of Kandi. Would they accept me? Probably, but it would certainly the dynamic of those relationships, which I simply do not wish to do. I have many friends that remain friends, for well over 40-45 years. That simply doesn’t happen in today’s Instagram society.
Q: What are some of the struggles you have personally faced since coming out?
Now understand, what I am about to say is rare and it is because I do not have to live 24/7/365 as a woman. I do not have to work as a woman. I get to pick and choose my spots. Amazingly, I took to this almost immediately, love it and with almost a thousand times out, in tens of thousands of places, in front of multiple thousands of people, I have yet to have a single negative experience. I see generally mainstream situations, in very public places, in front of as many people as possible. That is how you came to know me.
I owe it to those before me and those to come to be visible, to set an example to make it just a little easier for them. That has become my purpose in life and to preach my Rules of the Road to others like myself: Be smart, be appropriate, be confident and be visible! I have done a video series on my YouTube channel on these and am working on doing live workshops to help others.
Q: Do you have any advice for people going through what you have?
I cannot be more to the point: LOVE yourselves! Once you do that, you can then love others and begin to find joy in the reality of who you are. It is not easy, it only took me 50 years to figure that out, but it is possible and it is the solution. Love is the solution to any problem we face today in society. Easy, of course not! But you cannot argue it is the solution.
Q: What’s keeps you positive and motivated?
The joy of being a woman. I understand that I have not had to deal with many of the challenges that women have to handle. But opening my heart to the possibility of being a woman, making myself vulnerable by being my true self in public, has allowed love to come my way that would never have otherwise. When dressed, I emanate a confidence and a joy that is palpable. People are drawn to it.
For me, the simple process of becoming the woman you see as Kandi is such a treat! Assembling an outfit, doing my makeup, seeing a woman in the mirror with a feminine figure, not one single stitch of male clothing worn, the click of my heels, dangling earrings, the perfect necklace, carrying a purse, all thrill me. And it never gets old!
When I am naturally referred to as “she”, it touches me each and every time I hear that. I feel whole, right, accepted, loved. I frequently get chills. She…me! Many people don’t get that kind of love in their lives. I get it almost every time I go out. Something as simple as ordering coffee and being called ma’am is amazing.
There is a high I cannot accurately describe when wearing a well-put-together outfit. When told that someone loves my dress (MY dress!!). I have received countless compliments, have had drinks purchased for me, my meal paid for and gotten more hugs that you can imagine. All this because I am proudly being me and confidently so. The day of this interview, I walked through the mall. A woman working at a store was cleaning her counter, smiled and told me how beautiful I was. Would she have done that if I were a ciswoman? Probably not. But because I owned who and what I am (and did look quite good!), she rewarded me with that compliment!
Q: What are some of your dreams and goals?
I won’t lie. I want to earn a living as Kandi. And I would particularly wish to do so in some creative capacity. This is what has lead me to modeling, acting, I previously mentioned, I also do improve and am heavily involved with volunteering. I certainly have dreams of having iconic feminine experiences. I have goals about helping others struggling with the same things I have struggled with.
My goal, every time I go out, is to get just a bit better at my female presentation. Maybe it’s a small change in my makeup or the continued attempts at feminizing my voice. Or the work I put in at the gym to have my figure more feminine, without having to resort to padding or shapewear.
Simply put, I want Kandi to be someone special!
Q: How long have you had those dreams or goals?
Every day is a blank slate as it relates to my life as a woman. Things changes, my dreams and goals change with them. These goals were born from the wreckage of the pandemic, as I was forced to rethink how I went about being me.
Tell me about your experience in the modeling industry.
Well, it’s not much. Jackie Bertolette of Ohio Fashion Week met me and invited me to walk her show. That lead to my walking two other shows, including in New York, for Victoria Henley. I could have walked more, but starting out as a model, let’s just say, it isn’t cheap!
A great friend, whom I met when answering an ad for models, Barbara Stitzer, invited me to participate in a photo shoot for her magazine, North East Ohio Weddings Magazine. I am in three photos and wrote one article for the recent Spring/Summer edition.
Being proud, being confident and having a big mouth, not afraid to ask, has taken me where I am today. What does the future hold? I don’t know but if someone wants a unique woman, with character, style and a luminous smile, I’m your girl!
Thank you Tasha!