When we are born, the doctor holds us into the harsh lights of the delivery room as were crying. Immediately ignoring that a baby knows nothing of dresses or ties, makeup or football, and the labels society gives us, They look between our legs, and immediately declare: It’s a boy. It’s a girl.
The men I will be speaking to have not had it easy in any way, experiencing criticism and judgment because they choose to live their truths. I’ve asked Instagram users @transkuroko and @themarcollective , two very talented individuals to join me in an interview discussing something so taboo to society and the media.
Mar and Tabby! We all start from somewhere. Before you hit it off on social media, where did you find your aesthetic? What made you inspired to create the looks you do?
M: My biggest inspirations mainly come from Japanese Street Fashions – specifically lolita and fairy kei! There’s just something about pastels and cute fashions that are so empowering to me. I feel the best about myself when I wear these clothes.
T: I first found photos of people wearing fairy kei online from tokyofashion.com. I used to log onto their page everyday to look at the new outfit snaps, but that was waaay before I started wearing it! Mahouprince was my main inspiration for starting to wear fairy kei myself, but I started very slowly only wearing one or two pastel pieces at a time. It wasn’t until I discovered I was genderqueer that I became more comfortable wearing fairy kei, and interestingly enough it wasn’t until long after I discovered I was actually male that I began wearing it almost everyday.
Mar, with the attention you receive from drag artists like Kim Chi and Max reposting your art, its unavoidable that it has opened people’s eyes to the hidden reality of trans men utilizing makeup as artistic expression. When you came out as trans and continued to wear makeup and do drag, what were the people around you thinking?
I’ve been a part of trans community for a while now, identifying as non-binary for years. However once I came out as trans I believe that some things did change. People will continuously try to invalidate what you do. They can’t separate your identity from you work. Trans people do exist in these spaces. Trans people exist in drag, trans people exist in makeup. I’m glad that people are becoming more aware of this, however there is still a ways to go. The only thing we can do is educate.
Tabby, you have such a defined aesthetic already. When growing into your trans identity as well as your own personal expression, did you experience any backlash within the trans community?
After I started being open about my identity I DEFINITELY experienced a lot of backlash from other trans men, and discovered theres a whole group of trans men that are ridiculously hyper masculine and constantly shit on anyone else that doesn’t fit their perceived idea of what masculinity should be. They go as far as to call any man sporting eyeliner or pink “fakebois” (this is obviously something cis people love to say and probably invented lol but hyper masc trans dudes use it almost just as much). It still happens to me sometimes, but not as often as before I started hormones, which I think is really fucked up. Somehow being on hormones made me more “legit” I suppose, which is fucked up considering not everyone has access to hormones but ya know!!
Have you ever felt alone because you choose to not abide by society’s overwhelming pressure for trans men to be this hyper-masculine character?
M: I’ve definitely have felt pressured. When you first come out as trans, the only representation you ever see are the guys who have been on T for 10 years, are super ripped and buff, and are extremely masculine, macho dudes. Not that those guys aren’t great, but there is more than one way to be a man. Being effeminate and trans isn’t an easy thing to do. People and society will try to invalidate your gender because the simple notion of a trans guy wearing makeup is so mind boggling to them. When in all honesty it isn’t really that deep. Makeup is genderless. It’s a creative form of self-expression and the fact that people are so certain it’s a “girls only” thing is absurd.
T: Luckily enough I have not! Most people within my circle of friends and support are gender nonconforming, and of course my husband loves how I present. I’ve always tended to steer away from hyper masculine people anyway (not on purpose it just so happened that way) so I didn’t feel any need to conform to that. Its more frustrating having people constantly ask why I “still want to look like a girl” – something I know they would never ask a cis boy! I don’t feel lonely ever, but I do often find myself frustrated by the fact that people just don’t GET it, and that its really not that hard! A boy can like makeup! Chill!
“Makeup is genderless. It’s a creative form of self-expression and the fact that people are so certain it’s a “girls only” thing is absurd.”
One last question, if you could reach out to someone reading this that can potentially be transgender and don’t conform to the rules society gives to the gender they identify as what would you tell them?
M: I would tell them that the most important thing they can do is be themselves. Yes, people will be ignorant. This goes without saying but if you change yourself just to please others you won’t ever truly be happy. Your identity is valid no matter how you present. The only person who knows who you are is you.
T: I always feel I’m bad at giving advice, but heres basically what I tell anyone who is trans or questioning wether they may be or not: For the rest of your life you will encounter people who tell you you cant be or wont ever be ‘x’ gender. Why waste your time and energy trying to conform to what people think makes you “really trans” when there will ALWAYS be people who wont accept it anyway? This is definitely easier said than done, but in the grand scheme of things its really only taken me a short amount of time to become comfortable and confident to present how I wish rather than how I feel I have to. I hope thats helpful!!
“I don’t feel lonely ever, but I do often find myself frustrated by the fact that people just don’t GET it, and that its really not that hard! A boy can like makeup! Chill!”
Here are some other awesome transmasculine artists to check out: