Please note: make sure not to miss the main part of this post - the interview with NINA - an amazing transgender woman I had the privilege to spend an hour with this past fall. Blurb at the end of this post, but if you'd rather jump straight to the interview, click here!
In January of 2017, National Geographic’s cover page [and special issue] featured Gender. The issue also contained a piece called I am nine years old, about nine-year-olds of 2017, from all over the world, who share their thoughts on gender and gender identity.
In September of 2016, I graduated an all-female coding bootcamp. It was VERY EXCITING! Also, super scary. Before landing my first ever software engineering job, I conveniently (but not that surprisingly - after all, it's me we're talking about), suddenly developed an obsession with gender – transgender specifically – so, a lot of the hours that should have been 100% dedicated towards coding and applying for jobs were spent researching everything transgender-related. (I am happy to state that I did find a job that I love just a couple of months later, and while I’m one of very few female engineers in the company – and industry – there’s also something special and unique about exactly that.) So, why transgender? I’ve thought a lot about that, because people frequently ask, and I think the most accurate way to describe it is that I am fascinated by anything that feels unfamiliar or unimaginable to me.
NINE-YEAR OLD ANNIE & JO – we’re born the same year, and were both nine in 1991/92. Jo in Texas and Annie in Helsinki, but you can see the same 90s fashion in the clothes we’re wearing. Not knowing each other yet at that time, I find it pretty funny how much it looks like we would have been friends if we'd known each other back then.
Furthermore, Science Friday, one of my favorite podcasts, recently did an episode on the teenage brain. It brought up some interesting facts and misconceptions about why teenagers are the way they are, and what we perhaps can learn by being aware of the changes our brains go through during that time. In an ever more rapidly changing world, the ability to adapt is pretty important, and from what I’ve observed, a resistance to change can start to generate bitterness. My grandparents, now 96 and 93 years old respectively, are great role models for me, and a perfect example of how you don’t ever really have to grow up, in a traditional sense. Yet they were robbed of most of their youth due to the war that hit Finland throughout 1939-1945. I could bet on the fact that their overall youthful attitude to life has kept them in such good health to this old age. (After all – it does make sense that you remain younger longer if you simply feel young and think of yourself as young, doesn’t it?) Fear is all too often the enemy, whichever the fear may be – fear of embarrassing ourselves, fear of getting hurt, etc. – the older we get, the more “scary” situations we’ve been through, which leads to this growing collection of fears. Of course, the hope is that we’d be able to find a way to let go and stop being so afraid.
One final point before getting to the interview with Nina - I was fortunate enough to witness a total solar eclipse this past August. It was visible throughout the US, and I saw it with about 50,000 other people, at a big festival in Oregon. There was a strong Native American influence at the festival, and in a beautiful post by Delilah Friedler, she interviews Aztec ceremony leader Esmael Xiutecpatl, who states that, in his understanding, this eclipse brought with it a shift - a unification of masculine and feminine energies, where the sun represents the masculine and the moon the feminine, and water. This representation – the moon's entrance into the solar eclipse – is called atl-tlachinolli in the Aztec language, and translates into “water-fire”. Xiutecpatl says this is a time for energetic possibilities to transform ourselves, and by transforming ourselves, we transform our families, our communities, and the world. The feminine energy comes in and blocks the sun, illustrating that it’s time for us to get out of our heads, which is masculine – to be thinking; to do what we think is correct – and get in touch with the feminine, which is our heart-mind. I’ve had several intense personal experiences post-eclipse, and I’ve also spoken with many people who felt the same. I find it so fascinating. After all (for women), our menstrual cycles follow the moon, and as I’ve matured and gotten more tuned into my body, my cycles have also become more and more like clockwork.
In December of 2017, National Geographic’s cover featured The Real Jesus. Maybe that will become my next obsession (bring it on, 2018!!!).
I was honored to get the opportunity to interview the absolutely incredible Nina Cherubin, a transgender woman who in fact will be the first one to graduate the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.
Happy Vibes Project is, first and foremost, a space where I share my excitement and fascina-tion about being human. I have a tendency to fall into research rabbit holes on almost any topic from science & technology to film ma-king, philosophy, cultu-re, art ... and, of course, holistic health. Happi-ness only gets better when shared, so feel free to reach out if you have an interesting story or would like to con-tribute in any other way! <3