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. We’re delighted to share Ryley Pogensky’s story with you below. (Note that Ryley, at center, is pictured with his grandparents, Leonard and Gloria, as well as with fellow model Valentijn, at left. You’ll find out more about her next week.)
RYLEY: I’m a blogger, a freelance social media marketer, and an LGBTQ party and event promoter. My events range from parties to fundraisers whose purpose is to fund transgender folks’ surgery costs. I was born in Texas and adopted at birth by my parents who happen to be White Jews. I was raised both Jewish and Quaker. Quakerism hit me the hardest as a child; the meetings—the silence—affected me deeply, and gave me the space to think about things that I normally would push aside. My mom, Rita, is my biggest role model, she is who I wake up for everyday; she died when I was fourteen. I miss her every day. I wish she’d seen me come out and been here now for my transition. I never got the chance to come out to her, but somehow I think she knows.
My closest and loudest (we are Jews from New York after all) supporters are my grandparents. They have never stopped with their endless encouragement. They love me so much; love is something that you can never, ever take for granted. Love can make you and it can break you; their love means everything to me. They accept me as a mix of both genders. I’ve explained to them in detail why I like playing around with gender and what gender means to me. I really would like to change people’s perceptions about gender and sexuality, there is such ignorance, confusion, and stupid anger about the trans world.
I identify as both transgender and gender queer. Which I will happily breakdown.
Gender is that thing that was slapped on your birth certificate determined by what was between or not between your legs. Queer is that wonderful word that we consider an umbrella term for many LGBTQ people. Now, when I slap the words gender and queer together, I am telling you I’m a little bit of both. What is between my legs is not thoroughly who I am. If gender is black and white, I’m grey.
Who do I date? EVERYONE. And no, I don’t mean that every gender queer person dates every other sexuality automatically. What I mean is gender queer people can fall into any sexuality. Because, you see, gender and sexuality are separate. For some of us, gender has always been pretty clear, while for some of us gender has been much like sexuality—a question. Anyone who falls under the gay umbrella knows what it’s like to question who they are and question what it is society expects from them. Being gender queer is just one of those things.