A Look into Transfeminism: Interview with Olive Eloise Dixon
By: Missy DeVelvis
My posts for the WORC are lacking in diversity, and so I decided to give the mic to someone else for a change!
I’ve known Olive Dixon for a while now. We went to high school together in Kennesaw, Georgia and sang and danced our little hearts out in the school musicals. At the time I had no idea she was trans or what she was going through. She is brave, strong, optimistic, and well-spoken, and I am proud to share her thoughts on the WORC blog.
I have bolded phrases where I think Olive’s awesomeness truly shines.
MD: First off, Olive Eloise Dixon is an incredible name. I feel like you should be friends with Nancy Drew and solve epic mysteries. How long have you been considering that name? Did it just come to you, or was it one of those “wide awake at 3 A.M. epiphany” moments?
Olive: Wow, that’s actually the best compliment, a large chunk of my childhood was spent reading Nancy Drew. Figuring out my name was kind of a big deal to me, as well as most trans people. The name that was given to me at birth was rather feminine, and most people would joke with me that was a ‘good thing your name is girly,’ completely ignoring the fact that I might not be comfortable with that name. My name didn’t come to me all at once, I almost always knew my first name would be Olive, it was always a name that I loved, and I felt like it fit me really well. As far as Eloise goes, I really loved the entire Eloise book series when I was little, and I thought the two names worked well together.
MD: It’s currently Trans Day of Visibility online. How’s it going? Found any awesome people out there, through the hashtag?
Olive: Trans Day of Visibility is going great! You know, it seems like majority of the time trans people receive attention is when we lose one, and it’s so unfortunate. So the day of visibility gave everyone a chance to show how spectacular we are. You definitely get to find some really awesome and unique people. The amount of diverse, brave individuals is spectacular and it’s great to see everyone spread love in that way.
MD: You were featured in a Buzzfeed article. How was that? Any effects?
Olive: Holy crap, yes I was! It was crazy. I posted a picture on twitter regarding the rights of trans people and bathrooms, or well, the lack of rights of trans people getting to use the bathrooms we feel most comfortable. The next day the article came out and my picture was featured, I gained a lot of followers on my social media and received an outpouring of support. However, the most amazing thing that happened throughout that experience was the amount of messages I received from closeted and out trans people telling me their stories. It was beautiful.
MD: I see from your twitter that your followers have spiked since said article. How has the internet helped/harmed as you transition? From the most part, I’ve seen people being super supportive of you in a way that people in Kennesaw/our high school might not have been. Are the anonymous internet trolls staying away?
Olive: Yeah, the support has been insane. As you know, growing up in Georgia there aren’t a lot of (out) LGBT people, and they receive a lot of hell. Transitioning online has made me more aware of the world, y’know, that I’m not alone, and people are going through the same things I am. As far as internet trolls, there are a few, I for the most part ignore them, but the great thing about the trans community is that even though we’re so large, we’re a family, and if we see someone getting a lot of hate, or mean tweets, we’re very quick to come to their aid and defend them.
MD: Do you want to share your transition story at all? For instance, how long have you known?
Olive: Coming to terms with me being transgender was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was something that I always knew about myself. I can remember going to bed at night when I was young and praying to god that I’d wake up as a girl. As I got older, I tried to ignore it. I pretended it wasn’t there. My family is very conservative, so I knew I wouldn’t have their support, and that played a big role into it as well. However, when the news that Leelah Alcorn committed suicide spread, I knew I had to do something. I didn’t want to hide anymore. Most importantly, I wanted to be brave and come to terms with who I am so other people could see me and not feel so alone like Leelah did.
MD: What’s it like being trans in Georgia? Kennesaw?
Olive: Being trans in Georgia is difficult, and at some times even terrifying. Even before I was out, I would dress more stereotypically feminine and I would definitely get stares, comments, and even threats. So, I do believe that toughened my skin a bit. Every time I got out, however, there’s still that fear. It can be dangerous. People are murdered just for dressing and presenting the way they want to and that’s really sad.
MD: Are there any LGBTQ resources centers near you? Women’s centers? (University of Georgia, for instance, has a great LGBTQ center).
Olive: Unfortunately no, the closest centers that I know of are all in Atlanta. The Trans Health Initiative in Atlanta is doing fantastic work though. They are a great resource for any LGBT people who are in need of a doctor, or are trying to start their transition.
MD: How well do you think trans voices are being recognized in feminism?
Olive: That’s a difficult question, really. For a long time trans voices were almost completely ignored. I do feel that it has gotten immensely better. For the people who are truly feminists they are doing spectacularly, but there are still the people who don’t associate trans people with feminism at all and it’s a serious issue.
MD: What can we, as feminists, do to improve this representation?
Olive: Actively getting more trans people involved, representation is so important. Be completely inclusive, and listen to what trans people have to say. That will definitely help.
MD: Favorite feminist speaker/author/actor/person?
Olive: Oh my goodness, this is like Sophie’s Choice. I would have to say Laverne Cox. I think the work she’s doing is so great, not only for trans women, but for all women. Her wisdom inspires me.
MD: Any frequently asked question about trans people that you’d like to put to rest, once and for all?
Olive: Yes there are few, but one in particular definitely stands out. I’m gonna be blunt here, don’t ask us about surgery. There are so many more important things about being trans than our genitals, and more importantly than that, it’s just rude. You wouldn’t ask a cis person what various surgeries they want to undergo, so don’t ask a trans person.
MD: Any last thoughts, statements you want to leave our feminist friends at the WORC with?
Olive: I would just like to say thank you for being so great, and thank you for raising your voices for women. It’s so inspiring.