“You can call me lady-boy, he-she, she-male, whatever, I don’t care. I am proud of who I am.”
I spent a weekend in Bangkok couchsurfing with one of the most beautiful transgender models in the world. Fiona Solis is a proud Filipino who now lives in Thailand, working as a model, real estate agent, make-up artist and tour guide.
It was a blast exploring the city with this power-woman. First, she took me partying at one of the most prestigious new clubs (owned by her good friend). The next day, we took the public boat into town (which I nearly fell off into the water!). On my birthday night, we explored the party street Khao San Road, alive with hundreds of young people eating, dancing and drinking at the various little joints blasting music and selling clothes, laughing-gas balloons, and even insects! After sharing a local beer and a cocktail bucket, Fiona disappeared. At the stroke of midnight she reappeared with a cute little cupcake surprise for my birthday!
One morning, Fiona and I decided to interview each other – she for her Couchsurfing vlog, and I for my blog! You can watch her vlog here. Today marks 8 months later, and I am thrilled to realise that my dreams that I talked about from minute 9:39 have now actually happened! From learning Spanish to living in eco-villages to experiencing alternative spiritualities in the Amazon. Promise I will write extensively about these in the upcoming weeks – no excuses.
Q & A with Fiona Solis
1. How did you get into modelling?
I started runway-modelling and doing photo-shoots in 2009. I built my repertoire by going to studios, sharing on Facebook, and gradually getting paid. Since I was young, I would wear my grandma’s clothes. I always liked to walk barefoot, pointing my toes as though wearing high-heels.
2. What was it like before surgery when people perceived you as a guy?
Surgery was for me because I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t feel beautiful. I didn’t want to keep wearing bras stuffed with paper towels and taking hormones. I am really happy after my breast job, this is an achievement for me (like abs for a guy). I never wore guy clothes except at school. People always saw me as a lady-boy.
3. How does your family feel about you being a woman?
Supportive. I have a strong support system, especially with my brothers, who immediately called me by the right name when I changed it.
4. What message do you have for people?
No matter how much people put you down, remember that you are above them. When people degrade you, remember it’s not the end of the world, maybe they had a bad day! At the end of the day we all go home and sleep. We all have our own problems. Maybe I helped you with yours when you released your anger on me! Just love yourself, you are born alone and will die yourself.
To transgender folk, don’t be afraid. Talk to people, the most powerful tool is conversation. Share your stories.
To non-transgender folk, the world is big and each and every one of us has a space in this world. We all have a reason to be living in this world, even if we don’t know our purpose. Live your life, no need to compete, and love yourself. Be kind and generous. Spread positivity in the world.
Some quotes from the inspirational Fiona
“I will do whatever I can to help people understand my community. When we spend time, you realise I wake up like you, eat like you, shower like you, sleep like you. We are all people. Just born into different beautiful colours, races, genders, etc.”
“The best revenge is forgiveness.”
“Straight people also do surgery – breast enhancement, botox, etc. It’s not just transgender people, it’s anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable with their body.”
“People are scared of things they don’t know.”
That last quote is why Fiona really puts effort into making sure people see the transgender community in a good light. When we were at the club, some creep grabbed her inappropriately. She was visibly uncomfortable and pushed him away. However, she did not lose her cool, for the reason above, as she explained to me later. Personally, I probably would have seen red and slapped the guy and burst into tears. I was filled with admiration for her self-control.
If Fiona wasn’t already cool enough, here’s one more example she sets for the world, especially at a time when white, light, “fair and lovely” skin is promoted as desirable and superior. Even though Fiona lives in countries where whitening products are the norm (believe you me, I couldn’t find a single sunscreen in the pharmacy without ‘whitening’ properties – had to throw it away immediately after my trip), she adamantly refuses to use them. “Most of the transsexuals who were joining beauty pageants wanted their skin to be whiter, but I was not like them. I wanted to be who I am really. I’m proud of my skin.”
I feel really lucky to have met and spent time with you, Fiona. You are definitely fulfilling your aim to help people understand the transgender community better. To be honest, many of my trans friends have a lot of inner anger (justified, given the discrimination they go through) – but unfortunately this makes people scared to ask questions, afraid of saying something offensive, which in turn isolates the community further from those who seek to understand better their experiences and be better allies. You amaze me because even despite having gone through a traumatic rape experience, you are so positive, so ready to share openly with any curious person. And there’s a quote of yours from an interview that I absolutely love – “the best revenge is forgiveness.” I have learnt a lot from you, Fiona. Your sharing has truly opened my mind a bit more to the realities of being a transgender person in a world that is not very accepting. Your ability to spread so much love, peace and joy no matter what is truly inspiring.
I know it was your birthday 2 weeks ago, so happy belated birthday, and lots of love to you!
More about Fiona Solis
- Article where Fiona is named in the Top 10 hottest transgender models in the world
- Photo Compilation – “Hot and Sexy” (one of her many)
- Video “10 Most Beautiful Women Who Were Born Male”
- Fiona’s YouTube channel
- Fiona’s Twitter page
- Fiona’s Instagram
- Fiona’s FaceBook page