For the next two weeks, here on The Window we’ll be featuring profiles of the amazing individuals featured in our Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters campaign, shot in New York by the iconic photographer Bruce Weber.
Biographer and journalist Patricia Bosworth interviewed each of the 17 models, capturing a chapter of their edifying stories. Read on to learn about Ahya Taylor and Dezjorn Gauthier.
If I could describe my life pre-transition, I was a ticking time bomb, ready to explode. There was no doubt in my mind that I was a woman, although everybody in the world kept telling me otherwise. As far as I was concerned, I was just a woman with a different path to womanhood. Growing up posed a challenge of reconciling my mind with my body and I was willing to conquer it. I knew that transitioning would be a huge shift, so I decided to move away from home to begin my journey.I began transitioning when I was a freshman in college. The process was very public, but it didn’t matter! I was doing what I had to do. It was a matter of psychological survival.
I had some friends who were very supportive; one friend in particular, a gay man, was with me every step of the way. No matter how much I changed physically, he still was still caring and supportive—you honestly need to have a strong, stable force in your life when you are doing something this huge.For a long time I got no support from my family. There were months at a time when I couldn’t speak to any of them—they were disrespectful; they refused to acknowledge my identity and didn’t take the time to understand how important and life-saving this was to me. During this time I had fallen into a depression. However, as time passed, my family became much more accepting and started to respect me living my truth.
Needless to say, it was very difficult. In transition, you evolve mentally and physically. It takes a great deal of time, resources, and tenacity. As I grew, I started to feel more comfortable in my own body. I was physically becoming the woman that I have always been. If I could describe my physical journey, it would be like a long walk home. I felt a sense of completion—that I have finally arrived in my own body. However, mental transitioning is a lifelong journey. I think everyone is in transition. It is just a matter of destination.
Now, I am still a student attending Wayne State University, majoring in Harp Performance. I have plans to also go into social work. Art and people are my passion and I want to contribute in the best way I can. I want to be a catalyst for the change and uplifting of my community.
My name is my own creation. I’m of French-Irish-African-American ancestry. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m twenty-two.
I’ve always felt I should be a boy. I began transitioning while I was in high school. The trans community in Milwaukee is small. Almost all of my friends were bio guys or girls. My best friend was a trans male who helped support me emotionally while I was transitioning in high school. I was still a female, but most of my friends thought of me as male at school. I was never bullied or hurt by my classmates. They thought what I was doing was amazing.
I’d be at home getting ready for a date with a guy, dressed up in a gown, lipstick, earrings, the whole bit—then my friends would drive me and my date to somebody else’s house where I’d change into a tux. Then I’d meet my real date for the evening—a girl. Before I came home I’d have to remember to not only put on my dress but the same lipstick, the same earrings, and remember the last thing I’d told my mom because she was usually waiting up for me.
After I graduated I went to college in St. Louis on a basketball scholarship, but I got injured in the first term, so I transferred back to a college closer to home. I dressed as man, had my hair cut as a man. I was still living a double life but I wasn’t trying to hide.
I haven’t changed my name on my driver’s license or credit cards either. It’s hard and expensive to change one’s name legally in Wisconsin. At Subway the other day I was ordering some takeout and the cashier asked me, “Is this your mom’s credit card?” I have to explain myself a lot.
I am with the same woman I met when I was transitioning in Milwaukee. It started as a lesbian relationship but as we became more comfortable with each other I began to explain myself. She has a hard time dealing with stuff like when I bind my chest or wear packers, even though it’s now part of my daily life. She’s not judgmental. She loves me. “As long as who you are doesn’t change…”
Ahya and Dezjorn are pictured wearing Balenciaga. Photo © Bruce Weber.