Why Trans Awareness Week Matters To This Filipina-American Model

Photographed by Mamie McCall.
There are many transgender models working in fashion today who straddle several worlds: trans models who are also activists, non-binary models who are on the men's and women's boards of their agencies, and those who are actors, too. But Geena Rocero, the Filipina-American model we introduced to you earlier this year, is something else: She's a producer, too (did you see VH1's Made To Model?). But there's so much more to Rocero than her skills in front of and behind the camera — at age 35, she’s already lived a remarkable life navigating (and thriving) between two polarized cultures. Well, all of that, and she's pretty funny, too.
Ahead of Trans Awareness Week (November 12 to 19), we caught up with Rocero on what it means to be transgender in the real world and in fashion.When Rocero started modeling in beauty pageants in the Philippines, she found not only the confidence she needed to break into the modeling industry, but she found her chosen family, too — an unconditional support system that taught her how to accept (and love) her authentic self. This was a life-saving discovering: Many trans youth are shut out of their homes at an early age, and one in five transgender people will experience homelessness at some point in their lives.
It's why models like Rocero will never stop fighting for their own rights and the rights of others, too. In the slideshow ahead, Rocero models swimsuits and eats Filipino food at her favorite restaurant, Jeepney, located in Manhattan’s East Village. (If you haven't been, by the way, ask them to show you Balut. Bonus points if you try it!) In our Q&A, she gets candid on the importance of Trans Awareness Week, what her Filipino heritage has taught her about America, and the one thing she wants people to know about transgender people that the media doesn't usually tell you.

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