danielle levitt: Where are you from? angie: I’m half Puerto Rican, half Columbian, and I live in Brooklyn.
What do you do? I go to the High School of Fashion Industries in the city. Studying fashion is something that I wanted to do, but I don’t want to do it any more. It wasn’t what I expected it to be.
When you went to high school, were you who you are now? No, I was the person that society wanted me to be. Growing up, I had to repress that side of myself; I had to please my family and society. But then I started to come into my own and realised that I could be the person I wanted to be. It’s something that I always wanted, but never thought possible until I got older and found other people who were like me. It takes a lot of guts to be transgender. It’s very dangerous.
Being born in the wrong body must also be hard because it’s not about being gay… Being transgender has nothing to do with being gay. I was born a boy, but my insides are not a boy’s, they’re a woman’s.
You’re in high school and living with your mum. Is she supportive? My mum has always told me, ‘If you’re going to be gay, I’ll be there for you.’ From a young age she always saw something different about me. It was kind of a smack in the face for her when I told her I wanted to be a woman. She loves me, but she still doesn’t get certain things about me being transgender.
[opposite page top] Angie wears denim jacket by Byblos; tank top by CK Jeans; satin trousers by Stella McCartney; earrings angie’s own
[opposite page below] dress by Herve Leger
[this page top] vanessa wears top by Sisley; necklaces by Waxing Poetic
[this page below] dress by Reiss; necklaces by Waxing Poetic
danielle levitt: Where are you from? vanessa: I was born in Manhattan, and raised all over – Brooklyn, Queens and Harlem.
How did your family deal with your transition? Now they’re good, but it wasn’t like that before. It started when my father found all my girl clothes. He kicked me out of the house, but I came back. I was in tears, trying to explain to him how depressed I was trying to live my life as a man, and how comfortable I am living my life like this. It took him about a year to get to where he is now. He used to call me by my other name, but now he calls me Vanessa and he introduces me to people as his daughter.
How did high school deal with your transition? People found out in freshman year – I was gay at the time and got picked on all the time. They used to throw stuff at me. It was horrible. I had to transfer to another school and at that school it was even worse; they used to throw trainers, paper, books, bags at me because I was becoming more feminine. And then I had to transfer to another school, which is the school I am in now. Are you happy with what you’re doing? I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel like this is who I want to be, that this is who I am. I can’t go back; I would feel so depressed.