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 Maxie Neu’s and Trevon Haynes’ story with you below. (Trevon, left, and Maxie, at center, are pictured with fellow model Ryley Pogensky. Read about Ryley here.)
I am 20 years old. I grew up in a small town in southern Germany. I knew my entire life I was really a girl, and finally I couldn’t control the impulse to be feminine. I began to transition in my teens; I started wearing dresses. My parents accepted what I was doing but were worried about how it would affect my younger sister—and they were also scared about what the neighbors would say. We lived in a tiny village where people are very conventional.
I started living as a woman a year and half ago. I had a difficult time for a while. To some people I do not appear to be a real woman, although I feel like a real woman. But I have a deep low voice and I look older than I am. Once I was on a train going to Berlin. I was sitting with friends and I noticed some kids across the aisle staring at me and giggling. Their parents were whispering and encouraging them to stare at me. They seemed to be saying, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I felt self-conscious.
I moved to Hamburg a year ago. I have made a great many friends—gay friends, straight friends, trans friends. My support group is my parents, my sister, and my two best friends who I met through modeling.
I don’t have a boyfriend. I like to cuddle and watch a movie but I don’t want to go beyond that yet. Maybe I need to protect myself. What’s happening to me is not about sex—it’s about identity. Nobody wants to get hurt. I have time.
What I will never forget: Bruce Weber photographing us all dancing in Central Park. Getting to model Saint Laurent. Exploring New York in the evenings. Times Square reminded me of Tokyo. I’ve traveled a lot around the world because my father’s a pilot. The neon signs, the crowds of people—the city never sleeps. We (May, Valentijn, and I) tried different restaurants every night. We watched the sunsets on the river. But mostly I listened to my new friends tell me their stories; that was the best of all. They were all different but there was one common theme—they were discovering who they were.
I was born and raised in the Bronx. I’m twenty-nine years old. I always knew I was male, always. My mother must have guessed it; she kept dressing me as a boy instead of a little girl.
Mom died when I was thirteen—a difficult age. Suddenly I was on my own. I cut my hair off and I began getting into trouble. I ran away a lot.
When I was seventeen I started shaping up. I was lucky. I met a gay woman named Ashley, who introduced me to the ballroom scene.
It’s a way of life, the ballroom scene—it’s kind of the heart of the LGBTQ subculture. Men and women of every persuasion. A lot of African-Americans and Hispanics—they are like a big noisy family—and everybody is welcome. I grew up in the ballroom scene. I learned the language; I learned about dance, fashion, runway modeling, gender impersonation.
It can be wild. I’ve seen runaway trans kids from around the country hanging out at these balls taking too many drugs, so broke they become sex workers. Being part of this project has made me aware that there are many trans people who have never had to go that route.
When I was twenty-two I started on hormones. I’d come home and my aunt would be very unsympathetic to what I was doing. I had changed my name, my gender, social security card, driver’s license. I was continuing to take hormones. I plan to have top surgery.
I’m studying business administration at night school. I have a job as a bank teller. Nobody knows I’m a trans person there. I guess they will after this. I’m a little concerned, but hopefully they will understand.
Of course I have ambitions beyond being a bank teller. I’d like to get a business degree in college and create educational programs for trans kids in small cities. There is still so much ignorance, so many questions, so much gender confusion.
I definitely want a wife and at least two children. After my top surgery I would like to have a child—a little boy, a little Trey. Wouldn’t that be nice?