Clubhouse is a new audio-only networking app, and from the moment I got “accepted” on January 1, 2021, I was instantly hooked. For now, it’s still in Beta testing (hence the invitation-only aspect), but it’s rumored to be opening up to the public in the near future. Since I started perusing different “clubs” or themed audio chat rooms, there’s one club that I couldn’t peel away from–Clubhouse Behind The Lens. The group is made up of photographers, videographers, makeup artists, agents, influencers, content creators, set designers, stylists, hair artists and models. Basically, all of the tastemakers that work “behind the lens” to make magic happen.
The Behind The Lens club has been a saving grace for me. The “mothership room” of the club is one that goes non-stop, 24/7, for weeks at a time. Moderators (industry experts) offer advice to those in the “audience” and others on the “stage.” Our “little” moderator family of 50+ people (myself included) are from all over the US, Europe, Australia, and more; and we’ve kept the room going at all hours via shifts that we’ve taken naturally, based on our schedules. After getting to know some of the Southern California “mods,” I was able to put together a photoshoot collaboration with the theme of “Sweet n’ Spicy,” in celebration of transgender beauty and harnessing our power.
Through striking images, I want to show the world that women of transgender experience are not only beautiful, but should love themselves on Valentine’s day, and every other day of the year.
In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, self-love has become a prominent topic of conversation. I’ve previously written articles about how one can love themself on this Hallmark holiday, but this year, it’s become crucial for me to show the world that transgender women are deserving of love–from others and from themselves.
Trans women are beautiful. “Periodt”–as Gen Z says. Through social media, both cisgender and transgender people alike have become conditioned to promote their lifestyles through images and videos. While the video-only app TikTok was made for high schoolers, it took over the entire world in the past year and a half due to the interest of an expanding demographic. Now, Clubhouse is blowing up around the globe. The best part is there’s truly nothing visual about it.
The photographer Chelsea Lauren, (who started Behind The Lens,) jewelry designer ONCH, a makeup artist from Pout Beauty Bar Jacqueline, Antar who runs Roam Studios in DTLA, and myself as the model decided to come together to do what we do best: create art. I’ll admit my mom (a licensed cosmetologist of 35+ years) did my hair prior to the shoot, so although she’s not part of BTL (yet) I have to give credit where credit is definitely due (love you so much it hurts, Mom!)
Clubhouse united us to honor transgender people. The minute I entered the studio space (and yes we maintained Covid-19 protocols,) I felt as if I was with friends that I’ve known forever. We had been spending hours a day with each other talking on this app, so it’s no surprise I was instantly comfortable. It felt amazing that all of these professionals came together to support me, a woman of transgender experience. I never thought there would be a day where I could be my true, authentic self; to feel not only loved and supported and accepted–but beautiful all at once. This photoshoot made me feel all of those empowering feelings in a year that has otherwise made me feel like I’m withering away, wasting the last few years of my ’20s.
One of my main objectives in life is to uplift those in the transgender community, and it’s important for me to inspire my brothers and sisters of trans experience to be their own valentines. My community should be told to celebrate their bravery and beauty year-round, especially on a day centered around partners and loving someone else.
It is OK to be your own valentine, it is OK to love your alone time. I truly believe one has to love themself before they can fully love a partner in the healthiest way possible. Yes, I am happy to be single on this day, because when it comes down to it, it’s just one of 365. And I love myself.
I’ve come to realize that people of trans experience aren’t often told enough how beautiful, strong, and courageous they truly are, so…here it is. To my brothers and sisters of transgender experience; you are being heard, your feelings are valid, I accept you, you are beautiful, courageous, strong, and loved. Do not dim your light to make others shine. Love yourself today, love yourself every single day, because you deserve to give yourself that grace and softness. Valentine’s day is just another day, because if gender is a construct, so is time. But that’s a story for next time.
Find me on Clubhouse @coreyrae and to see more photos from this shoot, go to my Instagram and head to my story highlights.