Photography Greg Chan
People ask me all the time how it feels to be a trans male model. The thing with being a trans male model is that everything is completely the same… except people can be horribly transphobic.
I say this because being transgender and being public about it doesn't allow you to live your life away from that label. You're always made up to be trans "something" - never just a regular person. I still get misgendered in my work field and even called "butch" at times, which you just shouldn't do. Being a "trans model" means that the rest of the world wants more pieces of you than what's actually appropriate of them to take. They want to know about "what's in your pants?", when you "decided" to make the "decision" to transition? It's none of their business. If the roles were reversed how would you feel?
These types of problems stem from ignorance, and the ignorance stems from people being unexposed, uninformed or having an unwillingness to learn. It doesn't always mean that all of these people necessarily mean any harm. But it still hurts, and can be frustrating and exhausting. Now just because I'm starting with the bad stuff doesn't mean it's all bad. It's just the most important part I wanted to get across… because it has to change.
What I want to talk about is my experience being a male model who happens to be transgender. Listen to the words and how that is different. I don't want to be labelled "trans". I want to be referred to as a regular male model. But I feel the only way to make it 'normal' to show everyone that's exactly what it is. The way to fix it is to have more transgender representation in the media. Then the trans people who are in the media don't have to be carry such a heavy burden. We have to change what's seen as normal, and then grow it.
I'm glad it's getting better. But it's not good enough yet. Despite everything that could be thrown our way, and is thrown our way, there is clearly a light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm happy that I can use modelling as a creative outlet. I've always felt safe in the modelling world because the environment is so wonderful, fluid and free. Most of the artists that I have worked with have allowed me to express myself and treated me with kindness and respect. But even that gets suffocating when there are moments I wasn't truly being myself while doing it.
Ultimately my guide to happiness is you don't have to hold back on who you are. You have to keep fighting for yourself and remind yourself how important you are as you are every day. And I'm grateful that modelling has given me a platform to use my voice to help others not feel so alone because I promise you I will use it. You can't be scared to live the one life you have completely comfortable in yourself. It's certainly not an easy process to figure out. But it's worth it.
Text Casil McArthur
Images via Instagram