‘I couldn’t see a way out of the body I was living in’: DJ, Actress and Trans Activist Munroe Bergdorf

21 Aug 2016

We talked depression, bullying and all things trans with DJ, Actress and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf

Dtl: Can you tell us a bit about your journey so far? 

Munroe: I started my transition six years ago, however I think I’ve always know on some level that I was trans. There was no eureka moment. As a child I was my happiest, because I wasn’t aware of societal gender norms – it wasn’t until puberty that I became very unhappy, struggling with body dysphoria, dysmorphia, eating disorders and depression. All of them were linked and pointing back to the fact that I couldn’t see a way out of the body I was living in. I had an extremely hard time in high school, as most queer kids do. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I really discovered what being ‘trans’ was and what was possible. I met my first trans friends whilst at university and I guess the ball started rolling there…

DtL: Did you have any fears about transitioning?

Munroe: I wasn’t so much scared about the transitioning process itself – the idea that my body was going to change and I didn’t know how, gave me an uncertain feeling, but I was excited nonetheless. What really scared me, was how society was going to treat me and the worries that come with that; would I ever find happiness? Would I be able to live a normal life? Back then there wasn’t any positive trans role models in the media that I could relate to, so I had no point of reference or inspiration other than my friends who ensured me that it would get better.

DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?

Munroe: Just stop thinking about the opinions of others. It really, really doesn’t matter. You can only be yourself and that’s more than enough.

DtL: What are your most prominent challenges, and how do you overcome them?

Munroe: Living with depression has been my biggest struggle. It’s a constant battle, one that I haven’t really talked about publicly and probably should do more… I don’t think many people ‘get over’ depression to be honest, I think it’s something that you continuously need to stay on top of and manage. There’s no shame in it, ultimately it’s a chemical imbalance in your brain. Right now I’m living a happy, healthy and productive life. But that can very easily be disrupted if I don’t get enough sleep, become overworked, succumb to everyday pressures and depression can creep back in. It’s all about staying on top of everything so that you can handle anything that life throws at you.

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Munroe by Adam Khadaroo

DtL: What is it like to be trans in 2016 and what needs to change?

Munroe: I think that purely depends on where you live in the world. To be trans in the UK is the best it’s ever been. In the US not so much, trans women are being killed at an alarming rate, especially trans women of color. In South America, it’s horrendous, they have the highest concentration of trans people within a population, but also the highest death rates and worst trans human rights. We have a very, very long way to go.

DtL: Did you ever experience bullying? If so can you tell us what happened and how you overcame the experience.

Munroe: Absolutely. It was mainly in high school. It really affected me at the time. However, the more I focused my energy into developing myself and standing tall in who I was as a person, the better I felt. The moment you stop letting people use what is different about you as an insult, and realize that what they say has absolutely nothing to do with you, but everything about to do with them, everything becomes much easier.

DtL: What advice would you give to those who may be experiencing bullying or feel like they don’t fit in because of attitudes towards their gender identity?

Munroe: Don’t be afraid to speak up. I kept far too much to myself. If you are being bullied, you need to talk to people. Don’t see it as weakness or be ashamed. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. These people are picking on you because you are different, what makes you different is what makes you special, don’t let them take that away from you. Protect yourself and make sure that you tell somebody, keeping quiet won’t make them stop.

DtL: What has been your proudest moment so far?

Munroe: The fact that I’m now living every day on the outside as the person I’ve always felt inside, and that the little things that used to give me anxiety no longer hold the same weight.

DtL: What does the future hold for Munroe Bergdorf?

Munroe: I’ve just wrapped shooting my first film, which was one of the best and most challenging experiences of my life. Acting is something that I really want to explore more. I liked how far it made me reach inside and drag my life experiences and emotions to the surface to create a character. It was an amazing challenge.

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