Why We Need to Fight to Destigmatize Transgender Beauty Standards Now

STYLECASTER | Transgender Beauty Standards
Illustration: Ashley Britton

In our culture, there’s a major lack of respect for the valiant journey transgender people go through. Both mentally and physically, there are many obstacles to overcome before, during, and after transitioning. No matter how easy or hard the process may be, the transformation is nonetheless beautiful. I believe our society seldom views transgender women in particular as beautiful; and I plan to break those social stigmas and prove that we are also strong, courageous, sexy, and stylish. We need to rehumanize transgender people, and that starts with how we perceive them.

I feel we don’t all see transgender women as beautiful because there’s a misconstrued idea around what a transgender woman even is. In my opinion, most people are still stuck on thinking it’s an older or more masculine presenting person, who’s having tons of cosmetic procedures to appear more feminine, and trying to hide themselves. Even if the person is easily recognizable as transgender, it shouldn’t deter admiration for their bravery. As I’ve said before and will say again, trans women are no longer just middle-aged men trying on their wives’ clothes in secret. We’re young, out, and proud of ourselves.

We need to rehumanize transgender people, and that starts with how we perceive them.

The transgender spectrum is broad, and there shouldn’t be one specific way we need to look for acceptance. I think a large barrier the transgender movement needs to overcome is the idea that we’re trying to hide our transition from people. Not every trans person desires to be “passable” to appease societal standards.

In the past, transgender individuals, including myself, have felt they needed to look completely feminine (or masculine) to be an active member of society, but not anymore. It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in just a short while—especially in the three years since Caitlyn Jenner came out and opened up the conversation in mainstream media. No one transgender person, or any person for that matter, is the same, so why do we all need to meet the same beauty standard?

No one transgender person is the same, so why do we all need to meet the same beauty standard?

MORE: How Fashion Helped Me Figure out Who I Am as a Trans Woman

I am an out and proud transgender woman, something I’d never thought I could be, and I’ve never been happier. Society needs to be reminded that transgender people are human beings like anyone else, and we need to be respected no matter what someone’s personal views are. The trans community is one of the most under-represented groups of people. We have worked hard to be our true selves in one way or the other, and we all need solace to flourish at times.

We need not only support from our friends, family, and coworkers, but from powerful brands as well—and not only one or two representatives; we need many. Fashion and beauty is so crucial to how the transgender movement progresses. Style often dictates what society thinks and accepts, and we need companies to take a stance and continue to make us the faces of their campaigns. Models and celebrities used to be people who had a message, personality, and a story to tell. They were beautifully different and that’s what made them stand out.

Fashion and beauty is crucial to how the transgender movement progresses.

If people won’t take the time to listen to transgender stories or see our inner beauty solely from being our true selves, then we need to have our outer beauty be shown in places they cannot escape—like billboards, ad campaigns, magazine covers, TV, movies, and more. Trans people have a story, they have strength, and that should be celebrated. We’re starting to see transgender models rise to the top and grace covers of magazines across the globe, but then, why don’t we collectively still think of transgender people as beautiful? I understand that it’s 2017, not 2037, but because the transgender movement has been progressing so rapidly over the past three years, why can’t we speed up the process a little more?

Laverne Cox talks about how “#transisbeautiful,” which it is, and I would love to work with her on spreading that message. She’s a powerful representation of a trans-woman in prison on “Orange is the New Black,” and in my opinion, transgender is the new black. Transgender beings need to be a new staple in society representing both inner and outer beauty.

In my opinion, transgender is the new black.

MORE: 6 Real Ways Makeup and Skin Care Can Help Your Mental Health

We must not neglect to acknowledge that everyone has their own journey in life, and no one should feel lesser for being their most authentic self. Our views on beauty in general need to be revised, and nowhere more so than when it comes to the transcommunity.

Butterflies are often symbols that represent transition or change. This is the perfect metaphor for a transgender person—whether or not that trans individual fully transitions, or looks completely feminine or masculine. It’s a symbol my mother and I keep close to our hearts as a marker of our ever-blossoming relationship.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the US led the promotion of transgender beauty?

Now more than ever, we need to remember to be kinder and more supportive of one another, transgender or not, differing opinions or not. The US should be leading the promotion of transgender beauty. Wouldn’t that be cool to achieve? We must focus on positive progress to evolve into a happier and more peaceful place where people of all backgrounds and kinds coexist.

One day, the struggles of being transgender will decline and we will be seen as nothing less than another type of human being. Eventually, we will be focusing on other issues and being transgender will no longer be stigmatized. For now, if you know someone who is or has transitioned, let them know that the strength and courage it takes to be their true selves is beautiful. That alone can make a world of a difference.