Digital Transgender Archive

Interview With Sakura Sirisavath

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Sakura Sirisavith identifies as trans female and was assigned male at birth. She is a mixture of Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese, and some French and Chinese. She is a refugee immigrant from the Post-Vietnam War era in Thailand. She came to the United States as a child with her parents and lived with relatives in Hartford, Connecticut for about a year before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota for better jobs and resources. In Minneapolis she lived in the projects in north Minneapolis where she played with many Hmong, Laotian, Asians, and African Americans kids outside. She then moved to a Minneapolis public housing home in south Minneapolis which improved her family’s life a little. She is the eldest of a sister and two brothers. Sirisavith gravitated more towards girly, feminine things such as dolls, dresses, and long beautiful hair as a child. She grew up with self-hatred towards her trans identity, however, leading her to suppress it for a long time. She was also traumatized in school by boys who bullied and harassed her for her feminine traits and behavior. This experience led her to hide her feelings and identity more and to act more masculine like a man. She avoided dating growing up and had few friends since she describes herself as timid, shy, and an outcast. As her body masculinized while going through puberty, she felt hideous and became depressed, leading her to isolate herself more. Sirisavith attended Mankato State University for their aviation program to become a pilot, but she switched her major to nutrition with an emphasize in food service management, hoping to one day open her own restaurant. After college, she began to come out slowly as gay, beginning with a couple of close friends. She also began to seek out friends in the LGBTQ community by joining GLASS, Gay Lesbian Amateur Sports Society. After being inspired by Boystown, a gay neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois she opened her own business in Uptown Minneapolis with a lesbian friend of hers called the GLBT Spot. After the GLBT Spot closed after deciding not to renew the lease, she opened a boutique in Rosemount which was more focused on products for women. She’s also a fashion designer and realtor part time, catering to the LGBTQ community. She began to fully accept herself as a trans woman instead of as a gay man after doing drag a couple of times, meeting and talking to trans people, going to support groups. She’s since started hormones and, liking the results, feels happier and more confident. When she can afford it, she would like to have top and bottom surgery. She’s part of the Transgender Health Coalition. In her interview, she also talks about katoey, language for LGBTQ people, and medical tourism in Thailand.

Item Information:

Identifier
k930bx35x
Collection
Oral Histories with People of Color
Institution
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Creator(s)
Sirisavath, Sakura
Contributor(s)
Jenkins, Andrea
Publisher
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Feb. 24, 2017
Genre
Oral Histories
Transcriptions
Subject(s)
Post-Vietnam War
Transgender Health Action Coalition
Places
Minnesota > Hennepin County > City of Minneapolis > Minneapolis
Philippines
Thailand
Topic(s)
Asian Americans
Bullying
Depression
Discrimination
Etymology
Families
Femininity
Gender identity
Hormone therapy
Immigrants
Language
Linguistics
MtFs
Multilingual persons
Psychic trauma
Refugee centres
Refugees
Role behaviour
Schools
Self-acceptance
Subcultures
Resource Type
Moving image
Text
Language
English
Related URL
https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/
Rights
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