Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Steps Forward and Back

Valentina Sampaio Transgender Beauty:
How They’re Shaking Up The World.

Is The Fashion Industry Doing Enough To Represent Trans People?

So we take one forward step and we take one backward step. To calibrate this week we have the cover of French Vogue, featuring  Valentina Sampaio. 

This past month, Vogue Paris debuted its first trans cover star, 22-year-old Brazilian-born Sampaio; the March issue is the first magazine in French history to put a single trans person on its cover. Although not completely the first, November 2007 cover with androgynous model Andre J. was a shared cover with Carolyn Murphy.

Editor-in-chief Emmanuelle Alt writes in her editor's letter: 
[Sampaio] embodies...a long and painful fight against being perceived as a 'gender exile’.” The headline reads: “Transgender Beauty: How They’re Shaking Up The World.”
Valentina Sampaio
The article continues: Then, of course, there is the question of how sincere a gesture it is to put a trans model on the cover of your magazine, or in your latest campaign, or on your runway, when, in 2017, it seems that many brands or designers don't realize that casting one trans person isn't inclusivity, its tokenism. So how do we circumvent a situation where trans people are treated like outsiders, to ensure that they receive a permanent spot in a more inclusive industry?

“Most trans people are not trying to 'shake up the world',” Shon Faye, a British journalist and commentator on trans issues, tells Refinery29 when asked about her reaction to the Vogue Paris cover. Shon points out that, although kinder than the coverage of a few years ago, it’s still a “sensational representation” of trans people. “Being trans is not a political statement designed to make everyone rethink gender,”...

Unfortunately, Transphobia is more rife than ever. Just last week, President Donald J. Trump revoked protections introduced by President Obama that allowed trans students to use the bathroom of their choosing. Earlier this month in the UK, a boy shot an 11-year-old transgender girl at school with a BB gun, the culmination of weeks of bullying. LGBT rights charity Stonewall estimates that around half of young trans people have attempted suicide. "The fashion industry could do with being a little less self-regarding about using trans people's bodies without knowing the brutal rift between those bodies and the world that trans people emerge from," Shon says.

Caroline 'Tula' Cossey
Talking to trans people with modeling experience, Shon’s words ring true. 24-year-old London-based Tschan Andrews recently quit the industry after six years, because her identity too often “felt questioned or disrespected." The biggest disrespect of all, she says, was getting pigeonholed as androgynous. “That’s incredibly disrespectful for a transgender model, it will cause dysphoria” she explains, detailing experiences where she was sent home from shoots for famous fashion magazines for questioning why she was being asked to dress more "masculine" or play the role of both male and female (though it's worth nothing some trans models feel safer remaining androgynous, which can double as a state of protective limbo).

As such, both Andrews and Scott find subheads like “Trans Beauty” wholly unnecessary. “It would be nice to have the person’s name rather than having to have the word ‘trans’ in the headline,” the former says, nothing that, in the 1980s, trans models like former Bond girl Caroline Cossey were shot for Playboy, or did beauty campaigns; no one knew they were trans, except maybe the photographer. “It wasn’t because she was trans that she was shot, it was because she was beautiful.”

Read the complete Refinery 29 Article.   

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