Model Joss Jaycoff @jossjaycoff photographed by Victor Martinez Moreno @victormartimore makeup and hair by Sandro @sandroigon fashion by @sergidevcia @andotherstories @bibianblue @allsaints. Exclusive interview for Vanity Teen online!
Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and this project?
A: This is a tribute that takes inspiration from someone who dared to go against the impositions of her time, the Age of Mankind, where women were supposed to please the male gaze and bow to their Kings. Someone who was burnt at 19 years old because of her vision, someone who challenged the gender roles, Joan of Arch.
The photographer -Victor- reached out to me to embody Joan. I’m an artist/actor/activist who happens to be trans non-binary, working closely with the Spanish Government to create new legislation that recognizes Non-Binary folx in legal documents. Lastly, a good friend and great make-up artist -Sandro- joined the project. An absolute dream to work with.
Q: How and when did you discover your true identity? How was that process?
A: I had never felt belonging as a kid, I tried to, just to fit in with the boys, but there was something in me that would make me feel different. Later on, people started pointing it out and bullying came into place, what a cliche, isn’t it? I guess, at that moment, I just didn’t have the vocabulary to describe my identity, I just felt “different”. In 2015, when I moved to London, I discovered the whole world around Gender Non-Conformity, meeting a lot of Queer & Trans people, those who became my chosen family. East London’s nightlife played a huge part in the process of self-discovery, a really fun and freeing one, and that’s when I started coming to terms with my transness and accepting it. The journey to self-discovery requires a lot of deconstruction, letting go of the binaries that have been dictating our lives, and you must be willing to dive through your own trauma. A hard but beautiful journey to be honest.
Q: What are your main goals as a trans activist and why is it important to raise awareness in this field from your point of view?
A: Representation means getting closer to equality, if we get to be recognized in legal paperwork -as men and women do- that means that we’ll be able to create laws to protect us. Hate crimes towards Trans+ folk are reaching concerning levels, transmisogyny and specially transmisogynoir is at its peak, and our basic Human Rights are constantly being questioned. Trans healthcare is being debated by Governments, which should only involve trans families and their doctors, not politicians. Transness is where Homosexuality was 50 years ago. There’s an urge for new legislation, to protect trans youth, trans elderly, and trans refugees, asap.
Q: What would you tell to the people who are still struggling to find their identity?
A: TAKE YOUR TIME, don’t rush it. It feels like nowadays there’s some sort of pressure to hold on to a label. And I get it, there are so many “new” terms that describe so many life experiences, but as I said previously, it’s a journey. And I’d love for people to understand that Gender Identity evolves, so does your Gender Expression. So allow it to happen, at the right time. In the meantime, if you feel disconnected from who you are or your body, look for like-minded people, seek support in your family, chosen family, professionals, or LGBTQ+ organizations. In my case, asking for professional help (therapy) was life-saving. Know that your mental health is important and must be your number one priority. And I promise, it’ll be alright, evolution takes time, don’t forget to enjoy the process.
“If it goes down to ‘the hunting of the Witch’, of those capable of big change, of those who will challenge the binary of bodies, of those fighting for basic Human Rights, if it goes down to our own existence, then we’ll be the witches, but we won’t burn, WE WILL RISE.”Joss Jaycoff