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Puncturing the Lace Ceiling: An Interview with Nadia Lockheart



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Hey girl, so, who are you?

I’m Nadia Lockheart: a 33-year old ENFP transgender woman, lesbian, Aspie, ethical slut, indigo child, rave babe and blithesome gallimaufry of archetypal Kathleen Hanna riot grrrl fearlessness, submerged in a holographic glitterbomb of a bubble tea of Seiko Matsuda kawaii effervescence, living in northeast Portland, Oregon.

Professionally, I’m a fashion and lifestyle model and an indomitable evangelist of sexual freedom and expression as a sex-positive educator and advocate, with a specialty focus on empowering the differently-abled and gender minorities. I do bookkeeping for pay, all sorts of one-time community volunteer projects to keep me emotionally and spiritually grounded, and rave to inveigle and galvanize my sense of wonder and inner-cheerleader. What can I say? I’m everything and nothing at all.

How old are you?

I’m thirty-three, but I feel nineteen.

Is this partly because you’ve been rebirthing yourself in the last few years?

Very much so. I feel happier and more confident than I’ve ever felt, experiencing so much, and genuinely feeling like I’ve shattered this chrysalis of chronic anxiety from dysphoria.

For people who don’t know you, you’re pretty vocal on Facebook, do you feel that that comes at a price? Many of my trans friends tend to avoid posting about their gender struggles because they want to avoid conflict.

This is why I take sexology seriously, and why I have a reputation for being unabashedly explicit and vulnerable when speaking my truth and reality -- because there are so many who put words in the mouths of vulnerable communities. And I’ve known how it feels to fall victim to myths that, to me, aren’t true. Reclaiming everything about myself has required a brazen openness. Reality is sexually explicit. And gender explicit.

But then again you have "slut" tattooed on your lower back, so you seem on the more brazen side.

I got that tattoo a year and a half ago, just prior to beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy. I certainly empathize deeply with many of my peers and their fears of being vulnerable.

Have you witnessed people speaking for you and for other trans people?

It does happen often, but I am patient with this because I genuinely feel most mean well when they advocate and perhaps tend to overlook blind spots. It’s the nature of every effort to educate and instill awareness, it really cuts both ways, but that doesn’t dispirit me as long as the heart and effort is there.

Tell us about your HRT.

I currently take 150 milligrams of spironolactone, as well as 3 milligrams of estradiol, in a pill form on a daily basis. My estrogen scores came up nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the doctor recommends at the Outside In clinic, so my intake was reduced by 25% a couple of weeks ago.

I know this is a super personal question, and tell me to fuck off if it’s too much, but how are you able to fund this? I know that the Trump election has caused some ripples in this process.

I’m on Medicaid, and Medicaid covers an array of vital transgender health services including Hormone Replacement Therapy, vaginoplasty and genital electrolysis. Now here’s a twist: medical insurance DOES cover "breast reconstruction", but it does NOT cover "breast augmentation." You have to use the EXACT verbiage when consulting your doctor.

Now that is a pro-tip.

According to my electrologist, Governor Brown signed into law a budget that secures funding for these vital Medicare services through the year 2022.

Thank-fucking-god. What else?

Since I’m yet to have my vaginoplasty and I’m also a lesbian, I’ve come to discern the practicality of sex toys and appreciate them as necessary for sexual health. Having made this admission, isn’t it astonishing that so little discussion has gone into sex toy development and how it directly empowers the lives of the transgender community?

Yep! You’ll be needing a dildo to "stretch" or relax your vagina around, yes?

It’s astonishing to me: after all, I will be fucking myself with a nine-inch medical dilator for half an hour, three times a week minimum, for the entire rest of my life to prevent loss of vaginal depth. That’s where the vaginal care of trans-women contrasts starkly from that of cis-women. Fortunately, half an hour of sex counts for any given dilation session too, hehehehehe!

9 INCHES

And, because trans-pussies don’t self-lubricate, I’m going to be applying a LOT of lube. I’m beyond fortunate to live in a city that’s home to She Bop, because I want to ensure what I’m applying is hypoallergenic, non-toxic and glycerin-free like Janie’s Rose or Uberlube. With my aftercare demands, I believe a ninety-gallon tub of Hathor Pure is in order for me, hahaha!

Let me know when your birthday is and I’ll know what to send. Anyway, how are you not exhausted? Every new headline regarding this administration feels like a step in the other direction.

Because I know, deep down, that what the so-called "family values" lobby, the Trump Administration, TERFs and so forth want is to drain our spirits via psychological warfare. So I respond by aspiring to do all I can to maintain my sense of wonder and cheerleading nature in advocating for others. It keeps me on my heels and balanced.

I was working an event in Salem last month, where I was alone in a building and had to dart into the men’s bathroom to change my tampon. It felt unsafe, because if a man enters that small space it would be up to him to decide whether I would be "safe."

It has become a tragic issue since the "family values" industrial complex and TERFs suddenly decided to make it one several years ago. My heart cringes for everyone, as one who still uses the restroom contrary to my gender identity.

Thankfully I haven’t had to endure the misfortune of hearing so-called "locker room talk" along the lines of the "pussy tape" as a transgender woman in a male locker room thus far.

But many have noticed my boobs developing, and though I haven’t been catcalled, a few have approached me saying they thought I mistook restrooms. That has given me a lot of pause.

But you’ve not felt unsafe?

I don’t feel physically harmed. I just feel emotional distress in the sense that, for me at least, the main thing that triggered my dysphoria was grave discomfort with the patriarchal expectation that I had to "play the game" to receive success in sex, money and relationships in life by adopting a machismo-dripping, arrogant facade. It always felt artificial and contrived to me. I wanted no part in that. And the desperation to eschew it grew from there.

Really! So toxic masculinity turned you off from the idea of even being male?

Yes, very much so. This leads into my next point about the Women’s March and feminism in general.

I appreciate that the Women’s March happened, but let’s not pretend that many of the participants behind the march are not without flaws. Ahem, trans-exclusionary-radical-"feminists."

There’s this assertion that has had alarming bandwidth among TERFs that transgender women are agents of patriarchy, that their self-actualization undermines anti-misogyny efforts and threatens the concept of sisterhood. And they’ll usually cherry-pick instances like Caitlyn Jenner’s admission that the hardest part of being a woman is figuring out how to dress as justification for their exclusionary stance.

Oh Caitlyn Jenner. And she also was a Trump supporter. (Who knows if she still is.) Do you think that Jenner helped or hurt trans people?

I think both. I think she helped in the sense that she truly is the personality who helped bring transgender issues to mainstream visibility and, if not for her, it would quite likely have taken longer for them to assimilate into the mainstream. But I also feel she has some very wide blind spots, particularly reinforced by classism. She fails to see how health care, for instance, is a critical civil rights concern for the transgender community. Most of us can only dream of having the financial comfort she does and being able to fund the entirety of our operational desires.

And this is a perfect example of how $$$ is a major influencer on people’s lives, or their ease of living. What about Laverne Cox?

I think Laverne Cox is a far more accessible spokeswoman for the transgender community in comparison to Caitlyn Jenner: especially seeing that she represents the intersectional heart of sex-positive feminism as a Black woman too. Transgender women suffer disproportionately higher rates of violence compared to the general population, but what’s also depressingly true is that over seven in ten victims of homicide last year among the LGBT community were transgender women of color.

Did you attend the Women’s March?

I didn’t, in all honesty. I mean, I applaud all women who attended the march, and I genuinely believe most are truly after the same end result we are. I just felt a bit left out as a transgender woman, especially with all the imagery of pink pussy hats and gendered, genitalia-specific language. That said, it’s clear it was an extraordinary success and I’m beyond grateful it happened.

I didn’t go either. And I feel the same; I’m glad it was so huge, a protest of historic levels, but I feel like after the party is over, we are left patting ourselves on the back for simply showing up. I wonder how many of these women are proactively avoiding purchasing from companies or brands who support Trump. Like Uber, Under Armour, or New Balance shoes.

And it’s not just transgender, queer and intersex women who felt left out. Indigenous women did too. Many women of color in general admitted mixed feelings in advance. And I don’t feel they did remotely enough in spotlighting sex worker inclusivity.

Oh, they never do. I just watched some strippers argue that they don’t align themselves with feminism because it’s whorephobic. And to that, i say that SWERFS and TERFS aren’t feminists.

So-called "feminism" that excludes sex workers, porn performers and transgenders is not feminism. Period. Gender essentialists who are self-professed "feminists" like Julie Bindel, Germaine Greer, Cathy Brennan and Janice Raymond? Their rhetoric ranges from entertaining the notion of reparative therapy for transgender individuals, much like disgraced umbrella organizations and ministries such as Exodus International and Love In Action, to lobbying Congress against sex work in general and for the elimination of federal medical aid for transgender inmates, to preventing legislation that makes it easier for transgender Americans to update their birth certificates to reflect their sex, to now sponsoring "bathroom bills" in numerous states.

Tell me about your Slutwalk 2015 speech.

Like I said at that march, there are many who grapple with physical, mental and/or behavioral challenges and handicaps, who genuinely feel like the word "slut" isn’t even theirs to reclaim. Often we hear the travails of countless people being sexually objectified and their demands to put a stop to these practices.

Many are delighting in reclaiming the word "slut" and taking full agency of their bodies and sexualities, there are countless differently-abled individuals out there who wistfully await being seen at all: that are dying to be recognized as sexual beings. I’ve been there myself up until now.

Like people in wheelchairs, or with chronic pain. There was one elderly man who attended that year, he wore a fishnet body stocking, and his caregiver stood nearby. I thanked him for coming, and he said, "Oh, I always do." It felt good to be able to laugh with him.

There are human beings in the shadows who are pining to be sexually empowered. Cultural stereotypes incessantly characterize differently-abled individuals as being pitiful, helpless and lacking desire. Or, when they are quote-unquote "lucky enough" to have partners, they receive pats on the back from strangers when being "taken out" in public. Further still, it is commonly viewed they are loved "in spite of" their challenges and conditions rather than for all the other qualities that make them, them.

How can we combat this?

Like, we could stop congratulating people for having relationships with differently abled people, lololol.

Let’s spread the word! And let’s talk about modeling.

The main setback I’ve faced in the mainstream modeling community is heteronormativity. And nowhere is this struggle more symbolic than my numerous failed attempts to fulfill my (still-unfulfilled!) lifelong dream of modeling lingerie. Which, despite the efforts of some fabulous designers and friends, I’ve been vetoed many times from flaunting on local runways, mostly by show producers.

If anybody reading this wants to produce a genderqueer, non-het-normative fashion show, I’ll advertise it for free.

Few know as painfully as I do how excruciatingly difficult it is to find lingerie that suits the shape of every transgender woman. Because many of us are on HRT, our body fat distribution will often be different from that of cisgender women. Because some transgender women have and choose to have the genitalia they inherited at birth, many of us are self-conscious of "bulges" when trying to wear panties, tangas, booty shorts or G-strings.

Lingerie specifically geared to transgender needs and desires remains woefully rare. Chrysalis remains the only transgender-specific lingerie brand that has enjoyed breakout visibility, but their options remain limited and mostly specialize in microfiber polyester bras that are designed to enhance your bust and microfiber "T-string" (a questionable name to say the least) shaper thongs, also known as gaffs, that resemble a cross between boxer shorts and a thong. And the only established boutique specializing specifically in transgender lingerie is All’s Fair In Love And Wear of Kansas City, Missouri. Their website was victimized by a hacking attack last month.

So again, when your only established choices for transgender lingerie are several designs from a single brand and a store whose online front you can’t even access at the moment, you know something is amiss.

Meanwhile, some cis chicks are like, "Bra shopping is soooo stressfulllll."

And while this is all happening, transgender women (really, transgender individuals in general) are regularly subjected to dehumanizing stereotypes and biases. The mere practice of a transgender woman going lingerie shopping at department stores or even smaller boutiques is met with threats of harassment and expulsion more often than you’d think. Also, while I’m obviously a wholehearted proponent of male lingerie as a sex-positive feminist, I equally as strongly believe in contrast when it comes to offering and prioritizing male lingerie needs from those of transgender women. Frequently both are lumped together by the advertising and fashion industries as well as media, which is traumatic and exclusionary in its own right.

Thank you for speaking with me, and with all of us.

The longer I go on modeling, the more I’ve found my voice, and now I feel I owe it to the community in general to model authenticity. We must remember that for every woman dying to burn her bra, there’s another woman dying to wear one.

Nadia Lockheart can be found on Facebook.

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