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July 3, 2024

See Phil Oh’s Best Street Style Photos From the Spring 2025 Menswear Shows

by Minh Phan

A shrinking violet I am not. As a black transgender woman, I believe I’ve fought for my voice and, frankly, my looks. Right now, we’re in the midst of what I affectionately refer to as a Transgender Renaissance. Put simply—and there's no other way to say it—transgender people are having a moment. We have existed for generations, but only now are we being widely represented in politics, film, pop culture, and IRL. Your neighbors and coworkers are proudly coming out as transgender, and deserve to pull up a seat at the table.

I live in New York City, and in Brooklyn and Manhattan, trans girls are going on dates, hanging out in cliques, and dining at all the buzzy restaurants. When I have conversations with other dolls, some have expressed wanting to blend in or appear “stealth”—aka passing for cisgender. While I support a woman’s right to live her life the way she sees fit, I choose to live mine loudly and vivaciously. With the far right looking to ban books and trans-inclusive medical care, there is no time like the present to simply, yet beautifully, exist.

I’m social and love a good party, but I also cut a fine figure and enjoy the simple pleasure of feeling the sun on my skin. I love cleavage and naked dressing, as well as a ball gown skirt worn with a vintage T-shirt and sky-high stilettos; or a raincoat in an eye-catching color. The resurgence of #normcore seems nigh, and we’re all inundated with quiet luxury on social media. That’s all well and good, but I don’t want to blend in with the crowd; I want to dress up and out, reveling in the gender euphoria it gives me.

For the unfamiliar, gender euphoria is what a transgender person experiences when their appearance matches their gender identity. For trans men, it can be the change in voice due to testosterone; for trans women, it can be the barista using one’s preferred pronoun based on appearance alone. For me, gender euphoria is a lingering look from a cute guy walking past me on the street, the Uber driver referring to me as “Miss,” or even drunken revelers complimenting my outfit. (The latter is the easiest way to feel euphoric. By putting my best Manolo-clad foot forward, I ensure that I look good, even if I don’t feel it.)

In cities like New York, where there is always an occasion to dress up, dressing not only well, but with purpose, is pervasive among those who live here, including the transgender community. Post-pandemic, we are expressing ourselves and taking pride in our appearance, and we should. This is our time to shine, by embracing what I call extroverted dressing.

As trans women, much time, effort—and in some cases, money—goes into our appearances, with medical transition arguably the most paramount step towards bodily autonomy. Among my favorite physical features is the cleavage I was graced with when I began my medical transition, and thus I enjoy highlighting it when on dates and out during the evening. Think bra tops by the likes of Khaite and Barshai, which I like to style with high-waisted jeans or mini skirts. Naked and sheer ensembles fall in the extroverted category as well; I’m partial to transparent Versace pieces and slip dresses by Marc Jacobs. (The medical costs of transitioning are exorbitant, and you might as well show your body off.) Also, you’ll rarely catch me outside without the aforementioned Manolo Blahnik heel. They give me a gait and confidence that flats simply can’t, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss dress codes at clubs and restaurants—there’s nothing wrong with a little glamour, people! Speaking of glamour, a voluminous ball gown skirt (vintage Chanel and Oscar de la Renta are the best) styled with a borrowed-from-the-boys T-shirt will always be a conversation starter. And for the daring doll who isn’t looking for the standard evening look, may I suggest hot pants in high-shine metallics, or perhaps covered in paillettes?