The following was an interview that was done with a fashion magazine, but was never published. Despite not being published, I felt that a lot of my current feelings were reflected in this interview and I wanted to share what I said, (both for myself and you, the reader). So here it goes.
1. I am very keen to learn about your childhood...Did you grow up in Portland? Do you have lots of family there? Tell me a bit about your background (I'm listening to as much as ya will tell me!) What were you like when you were younger? Tell me about you ethnicity and your family…
Childhood: I was born in Washington D.C., grew up in Palo Alto and moved to Portland for school in 2014 (Lewis & Clark College here in Portland). I'm mixed race, my Dad's parents spent their youth in China and Taiwan, and came to the U.S. for college. My Mom grew up in Dallas and tells me that her relatives came to North America from England in 1622. I grew up between cultures, which I like to think has influenced how I think about things – I see a lot of dichotomies in my everyday life and in society and see creative ways to break/bridge these. Which of course could also just be a byproduct of power and the balance of that power within societies. I study International Affairs and Art at school, so I'm a bit of a poly sci nerd too.
Oh another biggie about childhood, I was assigned male at birth and “went with it” for most of my childhood – I came out a couple years ago. I say “went with it” because I had no words to describe what I was feeling, was taught no language and there was no room in any curiculum for genders outside the binary. That’s something that needs to change. -- So that whole process of being stuck, and then all the internal strife and searching that comes with coming out as trans rocked my world. It put a lot of things into perspective. If I was cis, I would have never quite see the affects of masculinity and femininity has on people and the power and vulnerability that comes with these words/expressions. I feel I have this clarity when it comes to gender norms and power dynamics between norms, genders and people. Womanhood is so complex, dynamic and beautiful. I'm so blessed to have the privilege of both transitioning at a young age, living in a city that largely tolerates trans and queer people, and having family support, both emotionally and financially. The camaraderie between the women in my life is so strong and beautiful, there's really nothing like it.
3. What do you think and feel about being a young woman in America in 2017 (hahah, now that's an easy question...I kid...) I guess I would love to hear any thoughts you have about ...well , anything that is important to you...I'd be curious to know do you want to have a family? What are your career goals and dreams? if you feel there are any issues that really impact you as a woman, things you think are great about being a woman in America right now, anything you would like to change?
Being a young woman in 2017 means being politicized in everything we do. From old white men regulating our bodies from D.C. to cis college boys at parties that create a facade of allyship but can never seem to pronoun trans people correctly. Living as a young trans woman in 2017 means going on facebook every morning and seeing another trans woman of color being murdered, or another legal protection being rolled back, or another “bathroom” bill being brought to the table to prevent us from existing in public. Every morning kids, random men, and cis women debating our existence like it’s up for debate – like my identity never taken seriously in media, and when it is, it’s either tokenizing or still politicizing us. I yearn for a day where I can see trans lives normalized. It’s happening in pockets, Sense8, Transparent, Teen Vogue – and part of my generation is flocking to be on the right side of history, and the other part (largely white men and women) are just trying to keep the status quo. I hope that one day every celebrity that happens to be trans isn’t marked as a trans activist – but right now it seems like they all have to be – they’re putting in the emotional labor everyday to fight for our rights using their visibility and audience because there's too much injustice, death, suicide and legislation that attempts to destroy our existence. On the bright side, we trans women have never had this much visibility, but with visibility comes more friction, more barriers, more murders. Growing up as a trans woman in this time period is wild. I have incredible role models like Janet Mock, Angelica Ross, Andreja Pejic that give me so much strength and courage. Shoutout to Andreja, your story really pushed me to transition sooner. But on the other hand, there’s some thirty states that I can be fired or not hired for who I am. When I’m planning a roadtrip with my cis friends I think to myself “what states can I pee in”.. peeing is really just synonymous with existing.
5. If I gave you a microphone and you had 5 minutes to speak to the country what would you say?
I would say, trust trans women of color. Listen to them. Stop debating trans people’s existence. We’ve been here for thousands of years – just this european gender binary has tried to obliterate us for centuries. Now I can go more in depth about the binary and gender, but I’d like to share a few sentences I put as my facebook status (which garnered a lot of controversy and debate).
If you're not attracted to trans people as a general rule, you're transphobic.
If you believe trans people owe it to you to come out, you're transphobic.
If you debate trans people's right to exist, you're transphobic.
If anyone thinks any of these things, I would ask them to think why, and push further. People can change, but there’s been basically no education whatsoever on these topics. Now for people that seek to be better, learn more, and be an actually ally, Google search should be your best friend. Attraction politics is so complex and a topic hasn’t yet be touched on a lot, but hopefully will in the coming years.
6. (again, forgive this cliche broad question) but! ...where do you see yourself in say 10 years time? Do you have any dreams you would love to fulfill? Is there anything you really want to achieve? Anything about your town or America you would like to change?
I talked a little about dreams in terms of the political climate in the U.S. but personally, I want to live closer to the earth, being self sufficient while building community. My dream is to enable people to eat better, grow their own food, think more clearer and get in the dirt. Growing up in Palo Alto and just in the U.S. in general – I’ve become so disillusioned by the greed and excess in capitalism. It’s not sustainable and it’s not healthy. I want people to slow down, respect one another, and listen more. I guess it’s not about me anymore, but I really want to come up with a creative way to live and embody all these qualities.
7. Do you have any career of style icons or just role models/people you look up to in general? If so, tell me all about them (or maybe pick one or two who are most important?)