Once upon a time I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed of my identity, ashamed of my skin, ashamed of everything about me. As a transgender woman of color, I have had much to overcome.
Over time, I have come to accept myself, my body, my history, my present, and my future. And as I pursued a career in modeling, I built the confidence necessary to be visible for my community. Transgender women of color are being murdered at an unprecedented rate, often without anyone outside of the trans community taking any notice. We are at risk on a daily basis. It can be terrifying at times, but I cannot and will not live in fear.
Even though the public visibility of modeling comes with difficulties and at times pain, it’s one of the ways to show the world I accept myself. For me, there is too much at risk not to be visible. The Texas Legislature and our current President are trying to push transgender people out of public spaces and into hiding.
No more. As long as I can, I will be visible and I will carry the voices of all those who cannot. I am proud to live an authentic life and it saddens me that so many people have shame for who they are or who they are attracted to.
If I leave any mark on this world, I hope it is to show that you are beautiful just as you are. You deserve to be yourself, without the pressures of society forcing you into who they say you should be.
Love yourself and this one life we have in this world.
Jessica Zyrie is a Houston-based model who works in runway and editorial, and also has experience in print, commercial, and promotional work.