How did you first get into modeling? As soon as I graduated high school, I moved to New York in hopes of making it big. The only thing that turned out to be big was the amount of rent I had to pay just to live in unsafe neighborhoods. For years I became so consumed with making money and staying responsible. I had horrible skin, was not at my desired weight and knew nothing about the industry, just that I wanted to be a part of it. It was incredibly difficult trying to get people to see the potential in me that I saw.
However, when I would get opportunities it made all the difference. I began to see myself blossom and knew I would never be happy in life and my career as male. I started my transition and put it in my mind that I would most likely have to leave modeling alone. The longer my transition the more I owned my womanhood. I began to move into my transition instead of moving with it. I began making my own natural face and body scrubs, participating in exercise activities especially yoga, and smiling. The greatest and most meaningful jobs came to me when I was genuinely being myself. Everyday I get more connected to myself, my womanhood and my transition.
The fashion industry has been slowly diversifying. Do you think it's enough? I am beyond grateful to be seen as beautiful, however, I would like to be seen for my beauty. It's not okay to be casted solely because I'm the only transwoman they could find, but say it's unacceptable for me to take a job listed for "female." An agency called me in and I told them that I would like to be submitted for female and trans roles and the response was, "I could see if the client doesn't mind, but you're just trans." I love being trans, but I am more than a token for someone else's fame.
Do you think visibility in fashion can actually enact social or political change? I know it can. Despite ads and campaigns saying, "Everyone is unique and an individual," I constantly see the same looking models as the face and body. Having models that represent the people can show the world transwomen aren't just one way and should not be perceived as anything but a group of individuals.
Photography: Kohl Murdock