Interview With TS Vandenberg

December 17, 2010

Jadis Illiana Argiope (aka TS Vandenberg) is a mid-twenties, male-to-female transsexual who  works as a waitress and occasionally does webcamming. I first saw her in a layout with Amy Daly and next at Shemale Yum. While watching the interview segment of her videos by Buddy Wood, I decided I wanted to get more in-depth with Jadis and learn about the bold and controversial decisions she’s made in her life and about her writing.

Caramel: Thanks for doing this interview with me, Jadis. When did you begin transitioning and please tell me about your name and background?

TS Vandenberg: I just turned twenty-five, have been transitioning since before twenty-two, although, technically, I did start a little earlier than that. Incidentally, my pseudonym “Vandenberg” is no coincidence. I took the name from Vandenberg Air Force Base. You see, I was in the Air Force, if just briefly. And it was then that I was forced to endure beholding myself at my masculine extreme. It horrified me. And soon after realizing the reality of that horror I decided to do something about it. This was…..oh…..not even three months into it, I think? That fact is, if it were not for enlisting, I probably would still be living that lie, and be like the vast majority of t-girls who end of transitioning in their late thirties, possibly with a large family, and suffering an even greater loss once I eventually decided to come out. As it is, this experience forced me to confront this issue early, and it was from here that I began my first steps towards becoming the woman I always secretly knew I was.

FYI: The USAF kinda frowns upon a genetic male dieting, fasting, holding themselves to female standards at PT, dying their hair just because all the other girls are doing it, and taking hormones. Yep. They found out about those. My excuse, when confronted, of course, was that they were for helping me help control acne. You know, to help balance out the male ones that forced me into such vicious breakouts? It sounded reasonable enough. And with my quirky Aspergersy personality (yes, I too, like so many t-girls, have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome) no one really questioned my reasoning. Just the method. From there my first sergeant had me dump the pills and see a real doctor for a topical solution.

Caramel: What effect and impact did this all have on you emotionally?

TS Vandenberg: Every other effort I made was confronted and thwarted and eventually they backed me so far into a wall that I felt I had no other escape from this maddening world of masculinity, and it was from there that I decided I couldn’t endure this any more, and so I set out to kill myself in the only way I knew how: Oleander. I’d tried it a few years earlier. At that particular time, I just that was gay, androgyne — I really don’t know what I was, just that my family would hate me if they knew, and that was really eating at me.

Anyhow, Oldeander failed this time. The first time it put me in the ICU for four days, the but this time it didn’t. Guess I’d developed an immunity to it? In any case, having failed I confronted my MTL (most immediate supervisor in my chain of command) and confessed what I’d done. For all I cared, they could throw me in jail. And hopefully I would be raped and beaten and killed. I just couldn’t live with myself if that meant living as a male. And of course, they didn’t (send me to jail to be raped and beaten, that is) yet instead opted to have me committed for a while. A month and a half would do. Just long enough to get the discharge orders and kick my tranny ass out of there. But hey, I’m free now, and with their diagnosis of Gender Identty Dysphoria, few doctors have rejected treating me — except for those whose philosophies are not, in fact to encourage transition, but therapy to condition me out of it. And those are douche bags, and they mainly live and work in Colorado Springs. Least, from my experience.

Caramel: What did you do after being discharged?

TS Vandenberg: I was reunited with my wife. Yes, I was married in the middle of all of that. Forget to mention, but no matter. Since finding out about the GID and my plans to transition, she really wanted nothing more to do with me. Well, that’s not true. She wanted to hurt me. And so, in the beginning, shortly after the divorce had been finalized, she began doing this the only way she knew how — by hitting me where it hurts. If you don’t have money, you can’t transition, and that’s exactly what she’d done. And so, getting started was particularly rough that year, but it eased up as she calmed down and lowered the amount I’d owed her each month. I still owe her, to this day, although I can’t even get in contact with her thanks to her new, jealous husband.

Caramel: What do you owe her for?

TS Vandenberg: The wedding cost a fortune. Indian family; big Indian family. And that cost us a fortune. And no, they wouldn’t shell out a dime. And so, she put it all on her credit card, and it’s been up to me to help bring that debt down. Although, admittedly, I’m pretty sure I don’t owe nearly the amount she was insisting. I still want to see some numbers, receipts even. $15,000 for my part is a little steep, don’t you think?

Caramel: Hell yes, that’s a small fortune to me. I think that as long as you keep doing what you’re doing, money won’t be an issue for long.

TS Vandenberg: As for myself and my association with Adult Entertainment Industry, I’ve only just gotten my feet wet, to be honest. I’ve done two solo’s and one hardcore with Amy Daly and I’ve even put in a few hours doing webcamming. But my waitressing job has taken top priority, I’m sorry to say, so I really haven’t much since I left L.A. three months ago. Though, admittedly, I still do have mixed feelings on this.

Caramel: Why the mixed feelings?

TS Vandenberg: You see, on the one hand, by doing this I subject myself the lustful eyes of horny, trans-seeking men, and conform to a stereotype that both we (as transmodels) and the chasers have helped to create and proliferate. And so, some would argue that we only serve to hurt the cause, perpetuating the objectification of women. Women often in condescending, demeaning, misogynist roles. And that can be true. But I don’t really know any more. I mean, it’s considered sexy (obviously) and even genetic women can get turned on by the doings we do, the clothes we wear, and the positions we put ourselves in. But it’s something of an invention of men, right? I mean, it turns them on, and therefore we find it sexy and it turns us on. And human sexuality has demonstrated itself to be be more or less fluidi as time goes on. So who’s to say what’s really sexy and what’s not? And what’s in fact a Trojan Horse, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? You know? It seems innocent at first, and indeed, none of us come into it with ill intentions. But it’s kind of like the Internet now, with Myspace, Facebook, etc. Yeah, it’s cool to create a profile that tells people everything they could ever want to know about you. But you realize, of course that you’ve just written your own CIA/NSA profile, and now they really have everything they need to know about you. And that means once you’re on their shit list, you’re pretty much S.O.L. And so it really could be the same thing with this, although probably on a somewhat less sinister, more subconscious level. By doing the things that we do, playing the roles that we play, if the only example of t-girl they see is a subjugated one (obviously freely, voluntarily so), then who is to say that it is really their fault, and not our own? Perhaps we really should be more vigilent.

Although, I still like to use the argument that, in the end, we are really just actresses playing a part. And it’s not like someone runs up to Angelina Jolie and says, “Miss Croft, will you give me your autograph?” or, referencing her role in ‘Girl Interrupted’, “Weren’t you in a mental hospital for a while? Do something crazy for me!” So you see, porn and webcamming, even escorting at times, it’s not who we are. It’s what we do. And when we’re not playing that part, we really don’t want to be referred to by the characters we play. Hence the reason we can call ourselves “tranny” and “shemale” online, and in those forum and context, while outside of that world we take complete offense to it.

Caramel: It’s true that a lot of TG/TS fans can’t make the distinction between a performer’s work and the person they are. As for the terms “shemale” and “tranny”, I know a lot of guys that were surprised to learn that they’re porn terms and even if a model/performer uses them for business, they don’t identify with and are often offended when called a shemale or tranny. That takes us back to what you said about it being the invention of men. Perhaps we should be more vigilent about the labeling too, but I don’t think these terms are going to go away any time soon. Maybe never. The origin of the term “shemale” dates back to over 150 years ago and I can’t even .

When I first saw your work with Amy Daly and next at Shemale Yum, I thought to myself, “There’s something different about this chick”, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Then I started following you on Twitter and knew right away what it was. I’m one of those people who believes that the mind is the sexiest thing about a person, even when their physicality is the first thing to grab me. I like the way you think. Tell me something about your blogs.

TS Vandenberg: As for my blogs, this is a perfect example of one of them. Very often I will have a discussion with someone. and depending on how it goes, I might actually decide to post our dialogue (both mine and theirs) so that the world can see the train of thought, and we both they and I are really coming from. You know, discussing things, even arguing things out really forces you to think about the things you already know. Only, it’s kinda like defragging your computer. It’s all in there, somewhere. And if you want to justify it, you really have to figure out where it all goes, and thus you make a fine point, or not. Very often I am proved wrong. But when I am, I learn from it, and assimilate as a part my own. And even when I successfully illustrate my argument, I still end up learning more from them. I mean, the very process of arguing a point of view is quite productive and I’ve had some of the best, most satisfying conversations this way. Although, admittedly, these have taken place primarily online. So for all I know, they could have been the one’s going to be frustrated, while slept satisfied. I have to wonder. Again, could be the Asperger’s. It wouldn’t be the first time I sent someone into a blind rage, all the while I remained clueless as to where all the hostility was coming from. I really do have to watch out for that. Ah, well.

Caramel: ” You’ve stated that America didn’t crash the minute Barack Obama became President and that President Bush didn’t secure the downfall of our nation during his eight years in office, either. That it was a collective effort and through no fault of any one President. Do you think things will continue to get worse before they get better?”

TS Vandenberg: Well, that’s a tricky question, really. And in all honesty, if things were to ever get better, really better, then yes, things would have to get a whole lot worse in order for people to snap out of it and start reacting like they should. It’s like we’re drunk (or drugged) you see? And there are those of us who are so intoxicated, they can barely hear you shouting at them to look out, as they play proverbial hacky-sack, following it into the middle of a busy street with a semi barreling down upon them.

What will it take to undo all of this mess? Either A, letting the toxin(s) run it’s course, allowing us to endure the biggest hangover anyone has ever felt within our lifetime (i.e. letting us appreciate the full extent of the damage that has been done. though taking a significant amount of time and damage in order to achieve this revelation);  or B, letting some entity slap us around until something clicks inside, and we get our survival instincts back just long enough to push this toxin(s) out of our system.

And in either case, it comes down to how much we are willing to endure, how much we are willing to sacrifice before we, the people, stand up and say enough is enough. And no, the Tea Party won’t be the ones to do it. The Tea Party is just another placebo, convincing us it’s gonna be alright. It’s not. It will take a real break, something most crippling to this nation for us to finally let go of our teachings, all of the propaganda we were taught or heard from our parents, friends, or peers, and finally start putting the facts together, on our own; forming our own ideals, and working hard to make sure that those ideals really are heard and felt, and followed.

We stand firmly upon a structure that was built and maintained by us. And yet this structure is no real foundation. Indeed, we had no say even in its design, yet we cling to it. We support it, and we support what we are told it stands for. Meanwhile, as we blindly embrace its pillars, and hearken to the sound of our own names, each of us, as it is called out. And we step up the stairs. And stand where they tell us to stand. And we are read a sentence which we do not truly understand, yet convince ourselves that this is our shining moment, for we are at a grand audition, and this is our chance to make an impression out there. on the stage, in front of all the famed judges. The world must monitoring this moment with great anticipation. “Hi, mom!”. Though, we are still,.as of yet, blindfolded.

And then they call out to us, and mutter an incoherent verb, and we tilt our heads up, ears pricked, listening for approval in our name, and then…..clunk! We can find no voice, nor words to express that feeling, as we find ourselves rapidly slipping away. No one will know. How could they? No one can see!

In the beginning, we all had sight, and were wary of suspicious men and their vain endeavors. But over time we gave it all up. Being told first that they sun was too bright, and that we must protect our eyes. Then, that day or night, it still was too much for eyes. Ever have those headaches, backaches, toothaches, etc? It’s the light. You should shade your eyes. And so, even candle light was said to be too much for us. And, after some time, this proved to be so. For, when those of us did try to pick beneath the fold, it did stress our eyes, and so we escaped back into the darkness, where we learned to listen and follow, instead of over-exerting eyes. The voices of those who could bear the almighty light would guide us, and we would learn to trust them complacently.A pity that no one could hear us now. Fallen through a pit, suspended by tether, a knot that steals our breath, cutting deeply until we fall.

No, dear Caramel, I do not see this nation getting any better. I see it more like the way of Western Medicine. How we do anything is how we do everything, right? We cause one problem, treat the symptom, and thus create ten new problems. And to each, another treatment. Never really examining the cause; merely putting a patch here, a pill there. Each time, we break out. We fall into a fever. Our pulse drops. Our kidneys shut down. And we wonder why we always feel so sick. One problem. Just one. One illness leading to the mandated malpractice of our caregivers. Who could really blame Clinton, Reagan, Bush, or Obama? It’s not like it’s their choice, anyhow.

The systems been rigged in favor of those who would exploit us for more and more  money. Never curing. Always treating. Each time, it’s a temporary fix, seems to work, until all the side effects begin to bear their ugly faces.  As it is, at this point, we now have eczema. Abso-fucking-lutely brilliant! Could it get any worse? Proverbial seizures, perhaps? Cholera? How about HIV? How far must we degenerate before we start looking elsewhere for physicians?

Somehow — I fear — in the end, they’ll just put us on some heavy drugs, until they we just slip away at sometime in the middle of the night. Nurses quick to report our passing; the doctors quick to harvest our donor material — much as they have done with most every other third world nation out there. And when it’s all said and done, our ashes will be sprinkled out onto the fields, and a new crop will be sown, growing from our fertile dust.

This is the way it goes, you see: It is a cycle, as we are so blind to find our selves caught up in it, once again. History repeats itself, all the time; for history is soon easily forgotten. And although history is made every day, tomorrow it will be rewritten.

I know, that sounds so dark, and bleak. But you know. As much as a I fear for the future of our people, and as much as I firmly believe we are but frogs in a slowly heating pot, I still believe that some of us can come out of this for the better. If, at the very least, this nation is just sinking, then perhaps some of the lifeboats can break away before it’s too late, and we all drown. Perhaps, if some states are wise, they can remember their sovereignty, and break away, inviting others to join them, and reform into a more perfect union?

Maybe. It doesn’t seem likely, but there’s always a chance. And I am one to believe that if ever we were given fifty-to-one odds, we could still make it. If there’s a chance, no matter how remote, there’s still hope. And I am not one to let that go so easily.

Caramel: In your “Operation: Tranny Freedom” article, you explained how you operated on yourself because of incredibly high amounts of testosterone being produced. As squeamish as I am, I’ve read every detail about the surgery. Obviously, it was a tough read for me but I understand the point of why you chose to do it yourself. But can you put your motivation in your own words for us?

TS Vandenberg: My own motivations were simple: It was an act of desperation and activism. You see, besides my high testosterone count, and anxiety associated with that, besides desperately seeking the sort of peace of mind that so many transwoman and men have dreamed of, yet so few have achieved, and can only be brought about not alone with therapy, but necessarily with surgery, as well; I wanted to make an example of myself, for the whole world to see. And whether I succeeded or failed, I wanted the world to bear witness to the pain and desperation that so many transmen and women endure on a daily basis. A pain that could only be truly manifest in a single act of expulsion. An act, not of self-mutilation, but of abortion.

Roe versus Wade changed a lot of things. And although at the time the move was most controversial, nowadays most women don’t think twice about whose right or decision that truly lies with. It’s our body, our choice. And if we do not feel comfortable carrying the child — bringing about both physical, emotional, and sociological changes that we are not prepared to endure — then why should we?

Yet, as great as that victory was, transwomen and men are not allowed the same rights to their own bodies. Where such clinics would allow a woman to obtain contraception without question, we are interrogated and lectured about it for months by our therapists and physicians, until they are convinced that we are entitled to these things. It’s a little bit funny, you see. Because, it’s kind of like the broken justice system: “guilty, until proven innocent.”

And in the meanwhile, we pay a hefty sum just to get the green light, and yet it is still at the physicians discretion whether or not to treat us. To be honest, many of us live in towns where all the doctors are just so right-winged, and narrow-minded that they don’t feel it’s appropriate to assist us in this way. That Gender Dysphoria is something that can be treated alone, with alternative therapy, and that living in these new gender roles is unnatural; albeit unGodly. Is it really a wonder why so many of our kind seek help underground?

And if you think you need surgery, forget about it! Just an example:

Planned Parenthood is more than sympathetic in delivering you from your burden, if you are genetic girl. But a transwoman? Remove your testes, you say? What are you, crazy? They could lose their license for that!

“Oh, well just go to urologist, and maybe they’ll do it for you?” Yeah, fine, that works. “With proper documentation, you can do that. So how much are you willing to spend?” Me? — I’m poor. My testosterone count was well over 400 before the surgery. And that was with anti-androgens! And I’m just an ordinary girl, making tips at the local Waffle House for a living! I don’t have between $2,000 and $10,000 — average being $5,000. I’m just not so fortunate. And neither are my transgendered brothers and sisters.

The fact of the matter is, we are all suffering here. And health care is just as discriminatory, if not more so, than the most xeno-phobic of rural towns:

“Oh,so you are a man?” No, I’m a woman. “But you were born a man.” I was born male, but I am not (and have never been) a man. “But it still says Male on your license, right?” Well yes, but… “Sorry, your insurance won’t cover your estrodiol, progesterone, or spironolactone pills. You’ll have to pay out of pocket.” How much? “Why $215.00 every month, of course!” But I can barely afford my car payments! “Oh, really? I’m sorry. Well, anyways, fuck you, and have a terrific day! We sure enjoyed your business!” 🙂

So why did I do it? I had to show the world! I had to show them — for I knew then what I know now — that I am not alone. I know that I am not the first, nor the last to have (or will have) tried this. But I just thought that if the world could know, if the world could see the things that we put our selves through, then maybe, just maybe it might touch a few hearts; and touch a few more; and then a few more. Rippling out, into a sea of sympathy, if not empathy; that the impact might build up into something of a wave; gather strength and mass; and wash over the nations’ healthcare; staining them with the blood of those lost or wounded in the name of peace of mind.

I wanted the world to bear witness to these horrors, that they may never need be committed again.

Obama promised change. And no one has seen it yet. But they didn’t listen either. And he told us, from he very beginning, that change would come only from our own, diligent hands. Well, dear Caramel, I did listen to our president, and I did take matters into my own hands. And now it is really out of my hands now, and up to the world look at the spectacle I have presented. It’s been a month now, and still no response. And I have to wonder, was it a testicle I pulled out of the sack, or Medusa’s hideous crown?

TS Vandenberg with Hazel Tucker

Caramel: You have an extraordinary talent for writing! Do you have othe places you like to blog?

TS Vandenberg: Well, at this point, I’ve decided to stick with my WordPress blog T-Girl Gone Rogue and then copy those posts to my Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, etc. But if you do a little digging, you can certainly find most — if not all — of my work spread out there in cyberspace, on a multitude of forums and social networking sites. I really haven’t tried to stay silent, and I doubt I ever will.

TS Vandenberg’s  girlfriend Fleur DaSang

Caramel: Thank you for sharing your one-of-a-kind story with us, Miss Vandenberg. It was a real treat. I can honestly say, I’ve enjoyed your blogs and tweets thus far, and look forward to reading your unique posts in the future. Thank you again, and good luck with your transitional journey, wherever that may take you.”

TS Vandenberg: Thank you, Caramel and I wish the same for you.

4 thoughts on “Interview With TS Vandenberg”

  1. Wow, very interesting. I have to say, that she seems a little paranoid and perhaps a slight misandrist…

    In terms of porn and the objectification of women, there is obviously a biological need for women to be desirable to men. You’d be fighting against some pretty strong evolutionary forces to prevent men sexualising women / or women wanting to be desirable in the first place. They are part of the same whole, and I always feel it is slightly misguided when people start to play the ‘blame game’ on this subject.

    As for playing roles in our life, this is true. However, I personally feel it to be quite a sad truth because it is so clearly a defense mechanism to protect our vulnerability. So we are happy to develop our professional self, to stay distanced from our fun side, whilst all the while hiding our selfish thoughts. This isn’t particularly healthy imo, and is also the reason people start to become defined by their work over time – we are incapable of maintaining such a facade, so after a while one self will become dominant. A business person can actually stop being fun after a few years. Or a self-centred person becomes obviously egocentric. Etc.
    Therefore, I think it is inevitable if you do porn and escorting (for example), that there will come a point where it could cease to only be what you do and actually become part of who you are!

  2. As for American politics, it’s hard for me to have the same sort of insight as you guys because I am English. However, I think that does grant me a somewhat third person perspective which is kinda impartial.

    The american attitude is actually very admirable imo. And the fervency of your belief is often quite staggering for more cynical nations like Britain to comprehend.

    Obama promised change, but on a large scale this is impossible without the massive cooperation of the people. And unfortunately I think a lot of Americans are too stubborn or ignorant of the options to make informed decisions. That is why a suggestion like lowering the power insurance companies hold over your healthcare system was met with such scorn. We saw on the news, average Americans saying it was ‘communism through the back door’, or just un-American.

    So it seems to me that it is your fundamental attitude that is both your most admirable strength, and the source of most of your problems. This cannot be solved with a metaphor heavy discussion in an Internet blog, but by many individuals recognising their part in the problem as a whole.

    (btw, Palin is very poorly respected outside of America – please don’t let her anywhere near the White House) 😛

  3. I think this was a great interview girl! I was totally absorbed by your situation with the USAF!! I can so relate!!!! Had 15 years in when I was TDY to Ohio. Had left a tiny bit of pot in my car, and OSI busted me after a random check because the president decided to visit that base!! Well, to make a long story short, I was dressing when OSI showed up to my dorm room!!! By the time it was over, the interest was over me having shaved my body and my crossdressing!! It was as if the pot possession charges weren’t even the focal point!!! I was marched down to security police and forced to be photographed with nothing on but my underwear!! It was a very embarrassing and demeaning time in my life!! So to get back to you hon, I can so totally understand that the USAF can make your life so totally suck because you are transgendered! I think you are great and show resolve for us all!!
    ~Lacie~

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