Kira is one of Dress for Success Vancouver’s client Ambassadors. Her ongoing journey of self-acceptance and living a life of authenticity is heartening. She has found the support and encouragement she needed to embrace self-love through a community of inspiring women. This is Kira’s story:
My story is not an easy one to tell and it doesn’t have a tidy beginning, middle and end. As a transwoman, I’ve faced many challenges involving discovery and courage. Through Dress for Success Vancouver (DFSV), I’ve benefited from the warm embrace of a community of women who have helped me live an authentic life.
In 2014, while volunteering as a receptionist/peer support mentor with the Mental Health Action, Research & Advocacy Association of Greater Vancouver, I met a woman who forever changed my life. We entered into a loving relationship that defied societal labels. It existed on a spectrum that spanned partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse and best friend. It was a soulmate connection that filled my empty spaces and healed my pain.
As the years passed, certain behaviours emerged that confused me. She resisted physical contact in public: holding hands lasted only a few minutes at most and she rebuked my public displays of affection. I was hurt and like all couples began to manipulate her to achieve more intimacy. This effort backfired and left me feeling hopeless, anxious and depressed.
I came to understand that the spectrum of love was something only I had believed possible. With deep sadness, I realized that the only path towards peace within my soul, spirit and mind was to end the relationship. But I didn’t know how to do this in a respectful way. DFS helped me navigate this difficult time in my life.
I was aware of DFSV long before this time. Following a referral by the Harvest Project for a suiting appointment in 2012, I gained part time employment. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to join the Professional Women’s Group (PWG). But I wasn’t ready then. I needed time to feel comfortable with my identity – my true gender – with my friends, family and community first. It took me five years to finally say yes to joining PWG.
Once I was an active PWG member, I decided to take the next step and become a DFSV Ambassador, through which I’ve met more amazing women. A specific conversation landed for me as I was trying to figure out how to end my relationship: one of the Ambassadors shared her personal story of breaking up with her partner. I asked her how she did it and she responded, “I have no room in my life for dishonesty and lies.”
Those powerful words spoke of my reality. Not long after, I used similar words to end my relationship with dignity.
She also shared how yoga had transformed her life. I enrolled in a mindful meditation program for people of colour (POC), genderqueer and trans folks funded by Transcare BC. It wasn’t long before my sleepless nights, anxiety disorder and depression began to slowly melt away. I became more focused and self aware of my internal emotional and physical responses. I quieted the chattering monkeys and my healing journey began.
Dress for Success and the Professional Women’s Group have had a profound impact on me. I am now able to nurture and love myself when feeling down and sad. I face my emotions and physical body responses with curiosity instead of being defensive. I have found acceptance and love in the workplace, too.
I’ve realized that living a life of authenticity is possible and beautiful. When supported by family, friends, co-workers and a community of strong women, it’s amazing how much easier it is to love myself.
“The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you have ignored for another.” Derek Walcott
Partner with Dress for Success Vancouver to empower more women to live authentically and achieve their goals:
Image by Broda Photography