When Madison Werner began transitioning at age 17, she felt unsure and insecure when purchasing different fashions and makeup to try.
She had grown up admiring cisgender women. But as a trans woman, she had no trans models for how to embrace her own beauty and femininity.
Nonetheless, she persevered, curating her thrift store wardrobe on weekends and blending drug store makeups late at night when she should have been studying for her NYU exams.
Now, as a fashion and cosmetics influencer online, she has modeled for such high-end brands as Coach and Marc Jacobs. Through her social media platforms, she’s showing a new generation of trans and gender non-conforming youth how to embrace their own individual beauty in an unapologetic way.
“I came out as transgender when transgender visibility felt rare and incomplete,” Werner says. “I didn’t have any trans friends when exploring my identity and only listened to my own authentic voice. My confidence in my identity was earned and, if I can make even one other trans person feel comforted and part of a community, then I consider myself successful.”
Queer and trans people have existed since the dawn of time, Werner says. However, many cisgender and even gay people don’t realize that or personally know a trans person. The resulting transphobia in the gay and straight communities concerns Werner, especially now that trans youth are being attacked by political legislation at an intensity we haven’t seen in years.
“I’ve learned that transphobia exists in our own LGBTQ+ community,” she notes. “In some states, trans kids are losing their access to gender-affirming healthcare and their right to play on the correct sports team. Seeing my trans siblings be degraded in this way makes me feel angry and ready to fight.”
Werner has gained inspiration from Madison Beer, an openly bisexual musician whose music and online work have created a space for Werner to explore her trans femininity. But she hopes her own online work can help guide young trans people who feel isolated.
“To trans kids across the nation: no matter what happens, you are loved on this earth and through the universe itself,” she wrote on her Instagram. “This horrifying government legislation is not a reflection of you, but rather of the world we live in. I can only imagine the depth of pain you are feeling but you are not alone. Please do not give up. We need you here and we need your help in fighting this. I love you so much.”