Fashion Isn’t Just My Source Of Creative Expression—It’s My Armor

To be visible with one’s chosen creative medium is one of the most vulnerable actions a person can take in their lives. For me, fashion and beauty is my source of creative expression; it is my armor, but also my vulnerability. If not for fashion, I don’t know where or who I would be. As dramatic as that sounds, it has given me a new life and helped me understand my gender identity as a non-binary trans femme person. My clothes are a part of who I am, and they’re a powerful tool that so many underestimate.


Yen Nguyen 1

Photo: Courtesy of Yen Nguyen.

Dress by Christian Siriano, earrings by SVNR, glasses by jzhong

Every time I leave my apartmentafter I shake off the anxiety caused by toxic social idealsI am literally wearing my heart out into the world. It is on my sleeve, my mini skirt, my stiletto, my eyeliner, my dress… And honestly, it’s scary. To be visibly trans and aesthetically expressive sets me up to be to ridiculed and verbally attacked by strangersall because I’m a little different. It’s as if people think I’m this dangerous foreign entity to civilization. If only they realized the only thing that’s scary is their inability to have an open mind.

In the past, there have been days where the anxiety was just unbearableto the point where I wanted to give up and put away my favorite heeled booties, mini shorts, and all other items deemed for “women” just to conform. But after much self-reflection and depressive spirals, I realized I would much rather leave this life early while living my truth than live life as a lie for an eternity.


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Photo: Courtesy of Yen Nguyen.

Dress by Lordele, earrings by Justine Clenquet 

To express myself through fashion and beauty feeds my soul and keeps me connected to my light in this mundane place we call home. In a way, it’s almost like I’ve reached a state of nirvana in this physical world. I am so happy to say that I am proud to strut through the streets as I am, in all my transgender slaysian femme queen goddess ways.

These are words of self-love I share with myself everyday. Catered to my intersectionalities, they help keep my head up against the daily battles of society’s outdated teachings that say I’m not worthy, beautiful, equal, or human. These words help remind me of the strength and confidence that I have within; they help me shed the negativity and allow me to wear my thigh-high slit Jacquemus dress, fuchsia eyeliner, NARS lip lacquer, and patent leather stilettos out into the world. I have fought many internal battles to get to this level of self-love.


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Photo: Courtesy of Yen Nguyen.

Sunglasses by planet-i

A lot of people don’t realize the amount of strength and courage it takes for a person to be visible with their creative forms of expression. Whether it’s for ourselves or for others, everything we do is an extension of our soul, thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, and morepieces of our being that a majority of people wouldn’t dare reveal.


In my nine years of living in New York City this has been the first year I finally felt I like I belonged somewhere. It’s been so inspiring to see so many other API (Asian Pacific Islander) femmes, outcasts, and misfits—people like me—freely and creatively expressing themselves at API-centered collectives like Bubble_T and Onegaishimasu. To be surrounded by so much nurturing and loving energy, I couldn’t help but feel fueled with positivity. 


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Photo: Courtesy of Yen Nguyen.

Dress by Kelsey Randall, earring by SVNR


To all my fellow creatives: I see you, I applaud you, I support you, I love you, and I have the utmost respect for you. Please don’t let the negativity tear you down and stop you from being who you are. Despite the world’s teachings working against us, your presence is helping create a brighter and more accepting future. Hopefully, sooner than later, people won’t have to deal with the discrimination, hate, and stigmas that we helped dismantle. Please continue to creatively express yourself, support one another, and remember: We are powerful.

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