Motiivi magazine’s new columnist Mona Bling: ”It’s better to defend minorities than be afraid of saying something wrong”

Original article written in Finnish by Jaana Kalliokoski Photos: Ninni West, Levi Vepsä Reading time: 3 mins

What can individuals do for equality? Very simple things, explains author, journalist and social media influencer Mona Bling. She feels that human rights are her mission in life.

The world still tends to treat people unequally, which is why we need activists and people who march to their own beat. Mona Bling, 31, lives in Turku. She is a trans woman who speaks up for rainbow people’s rights and defends feminism, but she also talks and writes about, say, fashion in an equally fluent manner.

Bling is a fantastic example of how listening to your inner voice and following your own path can help one express oneself and, at the same time, act as an example to others. She has close to 25,000 social media followers to whom she shares her daily life and talks about human rights.

– We all have similar needs of being seen, heard and respected. Me having a presence in the media involves giving my face to what I represent. I want to act as an example to all those who are searching for themselves and want to be happy and loved.  

According to Mona Bling, one of the strongest myths is that people don’t understand what being transgender is all about in the first place.

Long-term dream became reality

Writing is one method for Bling to make a difference and express herself. She says that she’s wanted to be a journalist and author ever since she was a child.

– Writing is my first love, Bling reveals.

Last autumn, Bling’s long-term dream became a reality when her debut book “23 transmyyttiä – Totta ja tarua transihmisistä” was published (23 trans myths – Facts and fiction about trans people).  

As the name suggests, the purpose of the book is to dispel myths that are still associated with trans people. Trans people’s experience of their gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. According to Bling, one of the strongest myths is that people don’t understand what being transgender is all about in the first place.

– People think that trans people are somehow trying to trick them, and some don’t even believe we exist. Not everyone understands that some people’s gender identity doesn’t correspond to the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

All in all, people have a narrow perception of sex/gender. In addition to biological sex there is also social gender, i.e. how a person expresses their gender.

Bling is open-minded in the sense that one doesn’t need to know everything about everything all at once. You don’t have to be afraid of saying wrong things because it’s allowed to mess up.

– What’s most important is that you want good for others and aim to achieve a change by, say, listening to representatives of a minority and how they wish to be encountered. It’s better to defend minorities and engage in conversations than to be quiet and afraid of saying something wrong.

“You can be anything you want in life”

Bling visits schools and companies to talk about diversity and equality, and about how one could take account of trans people in working life. Unfortunately, they still face discrimination in the recruitment process and in working life.

– For instance, it’s great that we have the Pride month in which more and more companies are getting involved. However, participation should not be left at simply changing the company logo to a rainbow flag if there isn’t a genuine desire for equality in the workplace.

If Käärijä was a woman, could he be the beloved shirtless funnyman he is now?

When writing her book, Bling ran into something surprising: Trans people, too, censor themselves.

– A lot of people don’t apply for school or work because they fear that they don’t have a chance getting in. This hit me hard, although it’s human.

In her first column for Motiivi magazine, Bling writes about change and how you don’t have to limit yourself.

– For me this has been a long process, but I now know that you can be anything you want in life. A good example is that I’ve started to write about music, although I’ve always thought I’m unmusical. It’s also possible to learn things, Bling says, delighted.

Work left to do for equality

Finland is a relatively equal country on a global scale. We have for instance good public health care despite queue lengths growing. Regardless, Bling feels that we need to constantly work for equality in order to guarantee that minorities – and women – will continue to be comfortable in the future.

What do you think about the modern view of women?

– Unfortunately, expectations and hatred towards women still affect how a woman can be and what she can do in society. Recently, my co-worker and I were wondering if Käärijä could be the beloved shirtless funnyman he is now if he was a woman. The answer is most likely no, because women’s bodies are still strongly sexualised.

Bling hopes that it would be possible to give up gender-based contrasts, but not all things will change simply because you want them to change.  

– First and foremost however, you have to believe in change, Bling says.

Although Bling doesn’t want to title herself as an activist, she will in her own words always be engaged in activism. And rightly so.

Mona Bling

  • Born in 1992
  • Social media influencer and journalist with almost 25,000 followers on Instagram
  • Moved from Helsinki to Turku in spring 2023
  • Has had work published in, say, Cosmopolitan and Elle magazines
  • Has worked as a journalist for Yle, among others
  • Has edited a podcast
  • Wrote a book about trans myths named “23 transmyyttiä – Totta ja tarua transihmisistä”
  • Started as a columnist for Motiivi magazine on 14 June