Get To Know: Ava Toro, MUA
I am so pleased to bring the WHT readers a quickfire interview from a lovely lady who is not only beautiful on the outside, but simply radiant on the inside. Ms. Toro and I became Facebook friends not too long ago and I’ve had the pleasure of viewing some of her awesome makeup skills and read some of her inspirational posts. It is important to me to feature aesthetically beautiful transwomen on WHT as well as well-rounded, positive transwomen who can be an inspiration for other fabulous femmes out there.
Ladies, if you are looking for tips and tricks, Ava is the MUA who knows all the great tools transwomen should utilize in their daily beautification process. She is also armed with a great spirit and wonderful advice for life and transitioning. Check her out because she is definitely someone you should know!
1. Name, Age, and how you identify
My name is Ava Amariyah Toro, I’m 34 (by the time this is posted) and I identify as a transgender female. I do not get too caught up in my own sexuality, but if I had to answer…heterosexual.
2. How long have you been transitioning and what has been the lowest point of your transition as well as the highest point of your transition?
I haven been transitioning since September of 2009. I truly haven’t had an extreme low, however dealing with a doctor who kept insisting I had “minimal facial feminization” for past few years during my HRT made me focus on the features that screamed “male” and made me slightly hard on myself and depressed. I had to come to terms with the idea of working with what I have and transform myself since my face out of makeup is slightly boyish…and now…I’m okay with that. I think I developed this idea of becoming a Barbie doll and through the use of all my testosterone blockers and hormone shots and I wasn’t seeing the drastic change I had expected. I do believe coming to terms of being patient during this process has helped me greatly.
The highest point has been getting my letter from my therapist validating my need to transition. I had been seeing a doctor who started me on my testosterone blockers only and not estradiol. I had to get my letter to begin my shots. I started seeing my therapist to obtain the letter needed and within 4 visits…it was written. I was very direct in not wasting time to receive my letter…I mean I am not getting any younger! It had seen like my biggest achievement ever after seeing multiple therapists!
3. What are your top five femininity secrets for transwomen early on in their transitions?
…know your body when dressing yourself and find your own style that fits your personality.
…hydrate your skin with good moisturizer and drink plenty of water (a must).
…practice your makeup techniques, youtube if necessary, but make sure you blend properly and don’t be afraid to invest in good quality makeup brushes.
…do your research when finding a doctor, laser tech, electrolysis, or simply ask other girls you know (make sure your bloodwork is monitored by a doctor…not every girl is the same in regards to HRT).
…smile every once in a while in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you!”
4. How has your love life changed prior to transitioning to now?
I used to just identify as a gay male back in the day, however, I always knew deep down inside I was a woman.
What I became attracted to seemed to change immediately after I started transitioning. I started falling in love with transmen. Quite honestly, I never saw this coming, I never saw myself dating someone else who was trans…male or female. At first, I truly had to come to terms with the idea of being with a man who had different genetalia then I was accustomed to. I think I found myself getting too caught up in it that at first I was afraid…and what if he didn’t have his top surgery? How would I react? Would he be aggressive enough for me since I’m already aggressive myself? Things you think of always seem to get tossed out the window as soon as you kiss someone….you forget about body parts, you forget they’re transgender too…you accept who they are and love them unconditionally.
The biggest part of finding love during my transition was realizing that my body needed more attention than before, I had become more sensitive, feminine, and defininely more emotional.
5. Where do you pull your confidence from in order to live a 100% life?
I pull my confidence from from deep within! I believe in myself. I had been too afraid for too long to transition, I waited until I was 31 and had told myself…”I’m tired of pleasing everyone else and I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t turn 32 and not have started my transition.” Everyday I wake up, sure its hard to put on a smile, but I keep moving forward, that’s all I can do!
6. Have you experienced any outward hatred or discrimination in the throughout your career as a makeup artist?
Oh lord have I! My previous job working a major department store was absolutely rediculous. I had transitioned on the job and started coming to work dressed as myself…a woman. I was told I couldn’t use any of the restrooms within the whole store because employees knew I hadn’t had bottom surgery. I had to go into the mall and use the malls bathroom which was hotter and not as clean. I went to the EEOC building to file discrimination, but apparently, I wasn’t protected. After going to a lawyer, she made it very clear I wouldn’t get lots of money, I would only send management to sensitivity training.
One night the store was getting ready to close, I had to use the restrooms, but they lock the doors that go into the mall. What was I going to do? Go into the spa room and pee in the sink? So I decided to go into the women’s restroom on the second floor where an employee who also worked in cosmetics saw me. She says, “You got caught.” I didn’t think anything of it until I was told by a coworker that security had to look on the video to see me entering the bathroom cuz it was brought to managements attention. After being relieved from my job, I brought that up to the store manager…who denied it. I asked the store security myself and they in fact did watch it on the monitor and saw me using bathroom at 8:57pm when the store closes at 9pm. I couldn’t believe for the first time in my life I felt like an outcast. Apparently it was employees who had a problem with me using either men’s or women’s restroom, not customers.
7. What are 5 makeup products you can’t live without?
…MAC Graphblack Technakohl Liner (eye liner)
…MAC Viva Glam V lipstick
…MAC Prrr lipglass
…MAC #219 pencil brush
…MAC #224 tapered blending eyeshadow brush
8. Who are your trans* role models and how have they impacted your life?
Jenna (one of my best friends) …she’s truly impacted my life with amazing support and also pushing me to live my dream as a female since I kept putting it off for soo many years. I have known this amazing woman for 10+ years and my life without her in it seems unimaginable. She has always taught me I can be any type of woman I want to be!
Cheryl of Tiltt. I needed a support group and I found myself very comfortable in her presence. She always acknowledged how feminine I looked no matter how much I didn’t believe it…or in myself. She allowed me to share my makeup skills as I facilitated my workshop with other trans women at one of our meetings and boy oh boy did the girls have questions! She has encouraged me to be myself!
Those are just a few but all of the transwomen I know have impacted my life in some way or another. They taught me it was okay to be me but also that I’m not just transgender, I am first and foremost a WOMAN!
9. What is your favorite quote to live by?
“Live each day to the fullest and love stronger than you did the day before!”
10. Are you involved in any LGBTQ outreach? Do you feel that your gifts and talents are being used to serve our community?
Yes I am involved within the LGBTQ outreach, moreso on the T part however. I feel my gifts and talents could be used even more within the community, but I’m always trying to find ways to teach other women like myself makeup application and techniques. I currently have my workshop coming up at the Philly Trans-Health Conference where I will be teaching other trans women makeup application, tips, tricks, advice, and much more!
11. What is your advice to any transwomen struggling to overcome insecurities about living full-time as a woman?
Be who you want to be, stop living to make someone else happy, you’ve got this life right here right now! Make the most of it, but better yet make yourself happy and put yourself first! Walk with your held held up high and don’t allow any ignorant knuckleheads to tell you you are not a woman or worthless. You truly need to believe in yourself that you can do this and live full-time as a female, but find that confidence from within and the love you have for yourself. If you need makeup tips, find someone reputable to guide you through your application or go get a little wiglet or weave until your hair grows out. Be the woman you’re destined to be. It’s really up to you!