Beauty


It’s 2015 and I’m the self-proclaimed “beauty expert” of my 15-person NYU college class so obviously I have to live up to that narrative. If I’m being honest, I feel a little fake, as if this means I’m not actually feminine enough to be the trans woman I am. I’m laying on the bed in my dim shoebox dorm room, the brightest light glowing from my computer screen as I watch a Nicole Guerriero makeup tutorial for the third time. My makeup collection, and skills, are far less comprehensive than hers are. I feel so behind on something that feels so integral to my identity. But I can’t let my gender dysphoria get the best of me. It’s already midnight, and I needed to learn more about how she blended her lip liner into her lipstick so perfectly.

I head to the Duane Reade on 3rd Avenue, a short two-minute walk from my East Village dorm. I don’t know which products to buy and which I can afford. There are three beauty products I have no idea how to use and I feel a necessary urge to keep it a secret. After coming out as a trans woman, expectations of hyper-femininity swirled around me and I wasn’t even close to reaching them yet. I know how easy bronzer, blush, and dark lipstick should be, and I really don’t want to embarrass myself by admitting I don’t even own them. I purchased the products and walked home, thankful that no one I knew saw me shopping so late at night. I keep my head down and take the elevator back to the desk in the corner of my dorm room.

“The Sephora consultant back home would be proud of me,” I thought, as I sat in my bedroom. My roommate is away for the night and I have the next couple of hours to experiment with my makeup before finishing my homework. Nothing about my dorm feels like home and I feel uncomfortable in my own skin too. The dull wood furniture and bleak overhead lighting don’t help, either, and the view from my window is completely obstructed by another wing of my building. I’m thinking about the beautiful artist in my hometown who taught me how to apply my first makeup product ever, lip liner. I hoped she’d love to see how far I’ve come towards achieving a femininity similar to some cis women I had shown her on Instagram. Celebrity and transness weren’t intersectionalized yet and I didn’t know where to make trans friends, so cis women were all I had for reference. The trans part of my identity, as quintessential as it is, still felt lonely because of it.

Trans women like me, who are just old enough to be in ‘zillennial’ purgatory, came out when mainstream representation was just planting its seeds: Laverne Cox made her Netflix debut with Orange Is The New Black in 2013, and Gigi Gorgeous’ documentary This Is Everything wouldn’t release until 2017. Seeing a trans person, played on-screen or in my Instagram feed, was somewhat difficult to access. I discovered my transness by observing how cis women held their femininity in ways I could relate to. I’d say the lack of trans visibility in the media made my experience more difficult, but there wasn’t much to compare it to.

Model Jovel Ramos, my chosen trans sister, shares this reflection. “I never saw examples of trans/GNC people being successful or falling in love” in moments when she could’ve used the comfort of knowing it was possible,” explains Ramos. “We all deserve our flowers, and the next generation of trans kids should see that.” A sense of belonging shouldn’t be a fleeting occurrence.

I found a home for my femininity in Madison Beer, whose social media presence and music are infused with a striking, pack-a-punch statement of young womanhood. I’d scroll through her Instagram, awe-struck by how she made being vulnerable seem so cool and kept her brunette hair so healthy. I needed all the confidence I could get; I was in-the-closet and in the process of choosing a name and growing out my hair. I listened to her song I Wont Let You Walk Away and lyrics like “I’m just a lighter without a spark” gave life to feelings I couldn’t yet communicate. Women like her, Kylie Jenner, and YouTubers like Carli Bybel exemplified the type of femininity that I wanted too.

Madison Beer, along with other gorgeous women, now leads the ‘beautiful people’ side of Tik Tok. She is one of Gen-Z’s faces of beauty, no matter if you’re cis or trans, and teens across the globe are generating video commentary about her look; it’s sculpted to the type of cisgender ‘perfection’ that many want to reach.

Cisgender beauty is all I had to mirror, but Tik Tok changes all that. Cis and trans women are coexisting on the app, sharing all of their beauty secrets and techniques with brand new, hyper-visible platforms. Trans teens are upending the typical “timeline” for transitioning I experienced just five years ago and I, a 20-something year-old trans woman, am learning a lot from it. Creators like Jayde McFarlane and Ilia Leya are leading the trans visibility movement with content surrounding real-life trans issues and trans beauty. Among their well-informed and hilarious videos, Ilia shared her skincare routine to combat a transphobic comment and Jayde shared her voice on Madison Beer’s makeup routine by recreating it here.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Trans Tik Tok is unapologetic, transparent, and tells trans women they’re allowed to feel beautiful. I wish I could’ve glanced at a trans-inspired Tik Tok video for inspiration, on that night in 2015, instead of looking at the floor in embarrassment. Seeing content like Kendall Raindrop’s trans girls are hot too” video could’ve affirmed my identity and jump-started my timeline for internal growth. I didn’t know that girls like me could actually be hot. But I have a second chance now, thanks to teens who somehow know more about transitioning than I did. The app thrives on an instantaneous trade of information that is more accessible than ever.

This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Gen-Z is the new expert on authenticity. All queer advocates should be taking note of it and amplifying their voices because these trans kids, and no one else, are the foundation of our queer future.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io





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