*This article is part of “TransMagazine”, the only online magazine dedicated to the Transgender community in Albania.
When you talk to someone from Kosovo’s LGBTI + community about Lendi, the smile in the face is inevitable. He is the first person who has come out as a transgender through a television interview. In this interview, Lendi recalls the moment when he decided to come out, the fear and suppression he had when fighting with self-acceptance and, the importance that activism has had in his life.
1. Lendi, you’re the first transgender person who has come out publicly. What made you take such a step?
– To come out openly as a transgender person, I was pushed by the need I had in the past to have someone to talk about these issues. The fact that I’ve always felt like I was the only one in Kosovo, although I was not, made me think of all the other people who need to know they are not alone. In addition, another reason was the spiritual liberation, the rage that had accumulated throughout the years cause I had been hiding since my childhood, the need to be free and be myself. When you need a role model in life and you cannot find it, I strongly believe you have to turn yourself into that person.
2. You have already started the transition. What has changed in you physically and emotionally?
– I have been in hormone therapy for almost 10 months now. The beginning of physical transition has been and still is the greatest revolution of my life emotionally, spiritually as well as physically. Physical changes have just started to be noticed. The most visible changes so far are the voice, little hair on the face, but also my body construction has changed a lot. Physical changes are not nothing compared to the emotional ones, both in positive and negative terms. Before I started the transition, I was informed that I would have emotional ups and downs, but it exceeded my expectations.
This transition has some stages that I had not imagined … Sometimes you think that now you have given up happiness, you start doubting and fearing that your emotions define you now and you do not see much light in being happy and comfortable again. But of course, after I calm down, I remember the reason why I started this process and how finally I can be authentic, fulfilled and in a future also stable.
3. Can you give us a general information about the transition steps and how do you feel on each of them?
-To begin the transition there have been several “phases” that needed to be surpassed in order to start the hormone therapy process. At first it was necessary to check my emotional and psychic state by a psychologist if I were mentally prepared for this process, which I once failed. I was not emotionally ready because everything happened very fast and I got blocked. Considering that many other things were changing in my life at those times, the “failure” to get the recommendation from the psychologist has pushed me to reflect and work harder on myself. I worked on myself so much, that I am now grateful for being much mature as an individual. After two months, I was tested again and the result from the psychologist was very different from the first one. This was a moment of pride for me because of how I managed to improve for such a short period of time and at one point I remembered how important this is for me and how much I have struggled for that very moment. After receiving the recommendation from the psychologist, I immediately scheduled a meeting in Skopje, at the “Sistina” hospital where I met with the endocrinologist and talked a bit about the transition.
Strangely enough on the date I had the meeting, no one from my family or friends was free and I started to fear a little … I started to think that I would be alone throughout my journey. These thoughts had arisen only as a result of the fear that I would be alone in this journey. A friend whom I appreciate very much as a person, a friend who was always there when I needed, decided the very last moment to come with me (one night before departure). Genta was the only person present when my dream came true. I will never forget it. I returned to Pristina and began to reflect, reminding myself that these things were really happening and I was experiencing them. After two days, I went to the doctor to make the first dosage of testosterone and from the anxiety I forgot the doctor’s recommendation and documents. I went back home, took them and ran to the polyclinic. Right there started my transition and my life got another direction.
4. How have others reacted to your transition (family and friends)?
– When I started transition, at first all of them were just curious about what changes would happen to me. The family members had a very different reaction from my friends. At home, my sisters and mom did not know that changes could take place within months, while my friends were eager to see the changes or show enthusiasm when I told them about what I was noticing. But my family has always been supportive and especially now that I’m having some difficulties emotionally. As for my friends, I do not know how to thank them … Whenever I had an emotional crisis, without being aware, I hurted them. Now that I reflected, I noticed that due to hormonal changes, I was negative and I reacted badly even for the smallest things, and blamed them unjustly. Going through such a process is not easy at all. The changes that occur within you are almost impossible to control. I hope that when everything stabilizes, these things will be forgiven and forgotten because my biggest fear before I started transition was to lose my loved ones because of these changes.
5. When did you first realise your gender identity?
– As a 6-year-old, child I noticed that something “did not fit” and that people were looking at me differently. I did not even know what sex was exactly. I thought that when I would grow up, I would start to develop a penis … and that the boys who were born with one, were just a few cases. When I grew up, around 13-14, I began to read about these issues online and things started to make sense. I thought I could be a lesbian and that it would be easier that way, but I never felt comfortable when I identified myself as a girl because I felt a boy. By reading and meeting people, I found out I was a transgender person.
6. How did you initially express your gender identity?
– At that time, only the hair was short. When I was 15, I started feeling much more comfortable even though my clothes were always “masculine”.
7. How does Lendi see his future as a person and as an activist?
– As I have always dreamed and still continue dreaming, my future will not be divided as a person and as an activist. I will continue to be an activist and will make sure that my daily life contributes to LGBTI’s community rights …
What I am doing now is only one step to achieve the success I want to achieve, so it’s just the beginning. I’m a big dreamer and I work for my dreams every day. Maybe I will not be the same kind of activist, but I’ll be there for all LGBTI + communities until I lose my strength (which I suspect is not going to happen until I get older). My dream is to enrich the “Queer” culture in Kosovo, to empower LGBTI + people, because many of them have talents, but little have the will to use them. Not all, but many of them. I want to push these people to use their strength and become great people because they have the potential and deserve it.
8. What message does Lendi have for those people who for various reasons cannot be themselves?
– Not being yourself, or losing yourself to me is a necessary process in life. Not being yourself for a while does not mean that you will permanently lose yourself. People need to lose themselves to create a better “character”. This way you go towards creating the best of your self. But, if you lose yourself to meet the image that society requires of you, then rethink if it is worthy. In the end, at a time when you are completely alone and no one is there to judge you, nor to comfort you, then you will understand the value of self-acceptance. You will understand that it is not worth pretending to be someone else. It is better to risk, to shout like the person you are, to lose people. After that, the soul itself will guide you to the right people. If you are honest with yourself, you will never end up badly. Do not waste your time pretending to be someone else. You are underestimating how good you are actually. Slowly, without pressure, it is okay to lose yourself, but do not force yourself to feel comfortable in that position. Use that moment to recreate yourself.
Follow Lendi’s transition through videos on his YouTube channel:
Journalist: Alba Ahmetaj