Trans performance artist Hari Nef is having a moment right now, dominating more than a few of the most sought-after runways at New York Fashion Week.
In a Q&A with Bullett, the 23-year-old trailblazer is described as “spearheading the swelling transgender movement, so that one day it won’t be called a ’movement,’ as if it’s some fleeting trend.”
But Nef, trumpeted as fashion’s newest “It Girl,” says the industry has more of a fascination with trans women than it does a legit interest. “How many trans models have appeared in a major runway or campaign in the last few years?” she asks. “Which fashion institution is taking up the cause of trans rights or the relief for homeless trans teens?”
“Fashion is having a moment with gender fluidity, but not necessarily transness. Designers are presenting masculinity as an option for women, and vice versa. That’s not ontology, that’s aesthetics.”
The New York artist says being trans goes deeper than that, declaring,”transness is not a destination.”
So are designers, magazine editors and model bookers taking advantage of the transgender movement?
“Fashion loves to be first, fashion hates to repeat itself and fashion has seasonal expiration dates. The rise of trans visibility has spread ideas and aesthetics that are quite new for most the world. Trans folks are in the process of seizing justice and visibility—it is an urgent matter of life or death. In fashion, this kind of urgency translates to ‘what’s now.’
I think trans visibility is generally a positive thing and fashion could prove to be a fabulous platform for us. I’m uncertain as to whether ‘what’s now’ will become integrated into the norms, or merely be written off as ‘last season.’ Ultimately, I want to see trans folks taking their place in the fashion world in a way that doesn’t feel like such a big deal.”
Check out some of Nef’s looks from NYFW below, and see more of her work on Tumblr: