Join Zhe by Karyn Elizabeth in celebrating Trans Trailblazer Rhyannon Styles, journalist, author, performer and public speaker. Rhyannon’s newest raw and inspiring memoir, “Help, I’m Addicted: A Trans Girls Self-Discovery & Recovery” is an important account of the battle that many face during their transition on the road to self-acceptance, self-worth and self-love. “Help, I’m Addicted” launches today, and the Zhe family is honored that Rhyannon took some time to speak to us about her journey.
Zhe: Your first book, The New Girl, tells the story of your transition. What was it like publishing the book and sharing what are some very intimate experiences with the world?
Rhyannon: I’d already started writing my column with ELLE magazine in 2015 about my transition, so the process of transferring those experiences into The New Girl book was quite easy. Luckily I was working with a great editor (shoutout to Christina Demosthenous) who helped steer the narrative and supported me when I was sharing all the intimate details and giving an honest insight into the transitioning process. In the beginning I did feel exposed, but this soon passed when I received positive feedback from other trans people and our allies.
Zhe: Your new book, Help! I’m Addicted, talks about your history of difficult relationships with alcohol, drugs, porn and other substances, and your experience of getting sober as you transitioned. It also features the stories of 8 other trans people who have dealt with addiction. Do you think that there are aspects of the experience of growing up trans that make people more susceptible to addiction? If so, why?
Rhyannon: I think many trans people are ostracised because of their gender identity, sexuality or gender expression and this can lead to using substances or other dysfunctional behaviors as ways to escape the pain. It’s certainly not part of every trans experience, but we live in a world where trans people face daily stigma and abuse which makes substance abuse more susceptible.
Zhe: What advice do you have for other trans people seeking to overcome addiction?
Rhyannon: Coming to realise and accept you are an addict is one of the hardest things to admit – especially to yourself. In my experience, talking to people is the first step towards freedom. By sharing how you feel and what you’re doing can really help alleviate the problem and take you out of isolation. My addict always wants me to be isolated and alone so I do everything I can to stay connected to other people.
Zhe: Where do you find the most joy these days?
Rhyannon: When I’m in the water I feel at my most joyful. Recently I was on holiday in Portugal and I had the chance to swim into waterfalls and the ocean, it was truly sublime.
Zhe: In addition to your writing, you’re known for your sense of style. What do you look for in the clothes you choose to adorn yourself with?
Rhyannon: I don’t know where you heard that, but I’ll take it as a compliment. My style choices are always changing and evolving, but recently I’ve settled on a 70s style and silhouette. I enjoy wearing vintage and used garments because they hold a history and a back-story, and I feel at home in that legacy.
Zhe: You’ve tried Zhe By Karyn Elizabeth’s “Wicked Collection.” What about Zhe’s garments and mission most resonates with you?
Rhyannon: The fact that Karyn has designed her collections with both function and style combined is very helpful. I feel empowered and secure in wearing these garments, which creates confidence within me. I think her mission statement to improve a very intimate facet of a woman’s wardrobe will support many people.
Rhyannon’s honesty about her experience with addiction is raw and sometimes painful, especially for me as the mother of a trans woman. Her important telling of her struggles with addiction including alcohol, food, sex and relationships, the internet and narcotics, and how it can overlap during transition, is a huge gift to the entire LGBTQIA+ community. I thank her so much for baring her soul in this memoir and for taking time to answer some questions.