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Ella wears a Magda Butrym knit bra from Albright Fashion Library, and a Calvin Klein tank and Adidas shorts from stylist’s archive.

In Progress

On the first day of a death-defying heatwave, photographer Wish Thanasarakhan and I shot a series of trans models and activists on a silver rooftop in Bushwick. Parents, siblings, friends, other dolls—each participant had a loving consortium of support to turn to throughout their journey. Truth is, this is an anomaly. Strangulations, rape, bullet wounds, bludgeoning, stabbings—heck, oftentimes just gasoline and a match—there is no group more victimized by bigotry and violence. This has to end. Titled In Progress, this feature symbolizes our shared journey as a community, evolving and fostering mutual support. Like mollusks safeguarding their pearls, we must nurture and protect each other, resisting illusions and fears that perpetuate shame. Our collective freedom hinges on uplifting the most oppressed among us. Shine on, lustrous pearls.”– Stylist Mauricio Quezada

 

PHOTOGRAPHY + FILM  WISH THANASARAKHAN @wishthanasarakhan
CINEMATOGRAPHY GUN PHUWAPHAT @1nstagun
STYLING MAURICIO QUEZADA @_mauricio_quezada_ using only archive and vintage pieces
INTERVIEW JULI KOCEMBA @kocembaaa
HAIR IZUMI SATO @izuizuizu @87artists @salon87brooklyn @w_tokyo 
MAKEUP MAKI HASEGAWA Bryan Bantry Agency @maki_h @bryanbantryagency 
CASTING SAM HOLDEN @scoutedbysam
MODELS ARTEMIS WHEELOCK-WOOD @artemiswheelock @statemgmt CONNIE FLEMMING @therealconniegirl @newyorkmodels ELLA SNYDER @ellasnyder @onemanagement HARUMA @haru.maxxing @kollektiv_mgmt JORDAN UNDERWOOD @jordallenhall @thebtwn JULES SANTIAGO @the_family.jules @majormodelsny MORGAN RENNIE @rottenb0y @newyorkmodels MOSES BATTIEST @donotperceiveme @apmmodels WILLA DEVEREUX @willadevereux @onemanagement
FILM PROCESSING PICTUREHOUSE + THESMALLDARKROOM @phtsdr  
PRINTING MEADOW DARKROOM @meadowdarkroom                                  SCANNED AT PHOTOLAB-NYC @photolab_nyc

PHOTO ASSISTANT ATIWAT MONDEE @atiwat.fm AND AMP SUWAN @amplllamp
SCOUTING ASSISTANCE SAGA SNOW @sagalikeastory
SPECIAL THANKS TONG RESTAURANT FOR THE LOCATION @tongbrooklyn

I’m Ella Snyder and I’m from Boston, Massachusetts

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the community I’ve found among my trans brothers and sisters, and the

career I’ve built for myself as a trans woman. I’m especially proud of the connections I’ve made

within the community through my career.

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

The most helpful support systems for me have been my parents. They have been incredibly uplifting and supportive, and I couldn’t be more grateful to them.

How do you take care of your mental and emotional well being in the process?

In this process, it’s crucial to prioritize your emotional and physical well-being. My biggest piece of advice is to set boundaries for yourself and feel comfortable saying no when needed – whether it’s declining activities or situations that don’t align with your comfort. Setting boundaries is essential for self-protection.

Moses wears an Adidas tracksuit from stylist’s archive and his own shirt

Hi, I’m Moses and I’m from Southern California.

What are you most proud of?

What I’m most proud of is probably overcoming my fears and dismissing perceptions of myself that could have hindered me from starting my journey, particularly with starting testosterone. It took me a long time, and I’m proud of myself for taking that significant leap – it required a lot of confidence.

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

My support systems have honestly been my friends, especially after moving to the Bay Area, where it’s much more open and community-oriented. It was refreshing to be around people on similar career paths, helping me find the right language to articulate my ideas and express myself confidently to others. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my friends and community.

How have you noticed people’s perceptions of you change as you’ve grown more into yourself?

I noticed during a photo shoot when someone remarked that they could see more confidence and warmth in me, and that I appeared proud of myself. This recognition has helped deter others from trying to diminish me. I believe people now see me as brave and willing to take leaps, regardless of others’ opinions or ignorance in the world. I feel more confident, without a doubt.

“What I’m most proud of is probably overcoming my fears and dismissing perceptions of myself that could have hindered me from starting my journey, particularly with starting testosterone. It took me a long time, and I’m proud of myself for taking that significant leap – it required a lot of confidence.”

I’m Artemis and I’m from Boston.

What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting to explore their gender identity? And for people just starting their journey?

I’d say to people who are just starting their gender identity journey: don’t let society define what it means to be trans or queer. Discover and define it for yourself. It’s a beautiful journey to explore what queerness and trans identity mean to you personally.

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

The biggest support systems I’ve had are from other trans people. Coming into ballroom and learning from elders, as well as from queer elders and fellow trans individuals, has been truly invaluable in finding and building my own community.

What helps you stay true to yourself while dealing with societal expectations and pressures?

Honestly, my art. I believe that creating art – whether it’s through theater, dance, or film – allows me to express myself in a way that gives me hope for the world, especially in the face of so much hatred towards trans people.

Artemis wears her own dress, tank, and trousers and Janis Savitt necklaces from Albright Fashion Library.
Connie wears an AREA t-shirt from Albright Fashion Library and her own denim shorts and bracelet

Hi I’m Connie Fleming and I’m from Brooklyn.

What does gender euphoria mean to you, and when do you feel it most?

Gender euphoria means coming to terms with yourself and the world, society, and family around you, embracing your choice to live authentically and unapologetically within your truth.

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

I was incredibly lucky to go through transition with two of my best friends and roommates at the time. In the ’90s and late ’80s, it was like the Wild Wild West with little access to resources, information, or healthcare. The three of us banded together; what one discovered, we all shared. This collective effort not only gave us a wealth of information but, more importantly, a powerful shared experience that provided strength and resilience through both challenges and triumphs.

What are some of the most significant changes you’ve noticed within yourself since you began your journey?

The unceasing targeted violence I experienced in my childhood forged within me an all-encompassing fear and self-loathing. This deliberate effort to destroy my psyche began to dissipate once I started living in my truth. I began to recognize my worth and found strength in embracing my true self – a truth that filled me with enormous power to face myself and the world.

Hi, I’m Haruma. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my thesis, where I explored an extended metaphor between silicone and the trans body, examining it from both a capitalistic and legislative perspective

What has been the most rewarding part of embracing your authentic self?

I think what I’m most proud of is my journey through transvestism, as now I identify as transsexual and enjoy cross-dressing—so there you go.

What helps you stay true to yourself while dealing with societal expectations and pressures?

I think doing a lot of deep reading and exploring the nonsensical dynamics of social expectations and standards helped me realize that they don’t matter at all. So yeah, fuck it.

Haruma wears a shirt by The Row from stylist’s archive, his own shorts, belt and underwear by Vivienne Westwood and Janis Savitt necklaces from Albright Fashion Library.

“I think doing a lot of deep reading and exploring the nonsensical dynamics of social expectations and standards helped me realize that they don’t matter at all. So yeah, fuck it.”

Jules wears a Courrèges sweater from Albright Fashion Library and Hanro underwear from stylist’s archive.

I’m Jules Santiago and I’m from San Francisco, California.

What are you most proud of?

I’d say I’m most proud of building a life for myself where I’m genuinely happy.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s just starting to explore their gender identity and for people just starting their journey?

For people starting their journey, I would say explore safely—safety is number one—and start with drag. That’s what I did. You know, experiment with yourself, see what you like and don’t like, and never make yourself feel like it’s too late. It’s never too late.

If you could have a conversation with your past self what would you say?

I would say, “You’ll be fine, girl. Don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world, and you’ll make it out of your shitty town.”

Can you describe a moment when you felt truly seen and accepted for who you are? Or what makes you feel seen and accepted?

I was sitting in the living room with my grandma, and she put her hand on my shoulder. She said, “Anák, you should be Miss Philippines,” completely serious. At first, I thought she might be joking, but she wasn’t. She had read an article in a magazine about transgender Thai beauty pageants and saw it as a possibility for me. Beauty pageants are a big deal in my family and in Filipino culture in general. For her, it was a way to continue our family tradition; women in my family had competed and won titles like Miss La Union and Miss Philippines in the 1950s and ’60s. It was her way of embracing me into the family, seeing and understanding me for who I truly am. It was a really sweet moment.

“For people starting their journey, I would say explore safely—safety is number one—and start with drag. That’s what I did. You know, experiment with yourself, see what you like and don’t like, and never make yourself feel like it’s too late. It’s never too late.”

My name is Willa Devereux and I’m from Upstate New York.

What does gender euphoria mean to you and when do you feel it most?

Gender euphoria is feeling the most cunt, the most pretty, when you’re not thinking about how

you look. I feel the most feminine when I eat sushi; when the wind hits my hair just right as I

walk down the street; when I wear tiny watches; when I receive compliments from chic older women; or when I’m kissing boys over six-foot three.

If you could have a conversation with your past self, what would you say?

I would say, start hormones immediately.

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

My family has been my biggest support system. I’m really lucky to have been in a family where I was never questioned and always accepted for what I wanted to do. I never felt ashamed of who I am. Also, having dolly-sisters is super important because—nobody gets a doll like a doll.

Willa wears an ALIX bodysuit from Albright Fashion Library and Wolford hosiery from stylist’s archive.

“Gender euphoria is feeling the most cunt, the most pretty, when you’re not thinking about how you look. I feel the most feminine when I eat sushi; when the wind hits my hair just right as I walk down the street; when I wear tiny watches; when I receive compliments from chic older women; or when I’m kissing boys over six-foot three.”

Morgan wears an Our Legacy shirt from stylists’ archive, their own jeans, belt and underwear and a necklace by Janis Savitt from Albright fashion Library

I’m Morgan and I’m from New Jersey.

Can you describe a moment when you felt truly seen and accepted for who you are? Or alternatively what makes you feel seen and accepted?

I remember the first time I truly felt seen and heard was actually at my first Pride in New York with my girlfriend. Growing up, there were never any other trans people around me, so it was really cool just to be surrounded by that community and to be proud of who I am. It gave me the freedom to express myself and not keep a secret.

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

My main support systems would probably be my mother and my two sisters. I didn’t come out until I was 18, and I was super scared. However, I had no reason to be scared because when I told them, they were just fantastic. They handled it perfectly, supporting me every step of the way — helping me start my hormones, guiding me through surgery. It was just perfect.

What are some of the most significant changes you’ve noticed within yourself since you began your journey?

The most significant changes I’ve noticed have been in my overall happiness. Before, it was a struggle to find myself and be comfortable and happy. Now, I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be that way. I can just be myself and embrace these changes, feeling truly comfortable and living peacefully and happily.

Hi, my name is Jordan. I was born in Toronto, Ontario. I grew up in Boston, and I’ve lived here in New York for the past 10 years.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my commitment to my own healing and growth. As someone who has a tendency to internalize struggles, it’s taken a lot of time and patience with myself to break those cycles. I’m very proud that I made this commitment and reached a point where I can trust myself to navigate difficult times and rely on my community for support.

If you could have a conversation with your past self, what would you say?

If I could speak to my younger self, I would say, “You know yourself, you know your truth. Live it.”

What support systems have been most helpful to you?

My community and friends have shown up for me in the best times and the worst times, and I truly cherish the mutual support we provide each other. It’s incredibly

Jordan wears his own tank, underwear and jewelry

If I could speak to my younger self, I would say, “You know yourself, you know your truth.

Live it.”