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Gender Diaries: Alex Valdes

As the world continues to push against gender constructs, the conversation around how people are identifying themselves is constantly evolving. Each week, MILK.XYZ will feature a guest editor writing about their specific relationship with gender and, often, where it intersects with fashion. This week, we feature Alex Valdes AKA Reagan HolidayEvery morning, I wince at my alarm and don’t check social media for an hour. It doesn’t always work. The several alarms, or the not scrolling thru insta real quick.

If I’m working that day, I’ll check to see if my mustache is growing in and count the little hair on my chin before remorsefully shaving everything away.

If I’m not working, I’ll keep each and every one of them.

At this moment in my life, I’m happy.

I mean, I could be happier, I could have more money, whatever.

But I’m happy.

I didn’t think I’d ever write that.

If I had told my angry teenage self that, I’d probably send Future Me some MCR lyrics on Deviantart and we’d never speak again.

I never told anyone this, but I had visions of myself as an adult when I was a kid. And I looked just like this. I have vivid memories of loud noise and thrashing about and flaunting some sort of sensual femme look while very much in communication with my male Self.

I’ve worn all black every single day for years. I’m mourning the literature that was burned decades ago by an army with fear in their blood that was dedicated to erasing the queer body.

Or I just think it looks cool. Idk both are alright answers.

Splitting is something I talk about a lot. It’s important to understand the journey that brought us here so we can better define the paths for someone else.

And buckle up buttercup, because I’ve got a weird one.

I was terrified of someone finding out I had these Weird Feelings about something I couldn’t explain.

So I hid it.

Under my wigs, the new face I would design for myself everyday.

I wore the highest heels, sometimes two bras, I was giving you Puerto Rican Dita Von Teese at the punk show, honey.

And I was deeply fuckin sad.

It’s like wearing a really big hat to distract people from your limp and eventually the limp becomes a full on dragging one dead leg but you’re still thinking, “I’ll just get bigger hats it’s totally fine I’m definitely in control.”

Doesn’t always end well. In my case, ended with a lot of frightening relationships, a drinking problem, your classic Crying in the Shower situation.

But I did find love somewhere.

In those mediations in front of the mirror, the hours I would spend practicing makeup. I was obsessed with eras and aesthetic and recreated iconic celebrity looks over and over again.

There weren’t enough runways I could screencap and place into little folders all over my screen.

I didn’t care that society might see this as some sort of contrast to my personal identity. I had a full set of tools that could build a world and wash it off at the end of the day.

Reagan Holiday was born there. Out of love and anger and a brand new art making process, I defined a new person. She was everything I was afraid of. She was sexy, confident, damaged, and above all else, femme.

Eventually, she went from the mirror to the screen to real actual life playing shows. I had an entire vessel to pour all of my love for femme and performance. I entered the one place I felt like one human person and not a split idea between presentation and internal self.

I knew exactly where I was.

So when I felt an internalized pressure to stop wearing makeup in an effort to look more masculine, I felt ugly and vulnerable outside. This didn’t feel right, it wasn’t what I wanted.

I thought I was gonna just start to look like the bullies in high school. I never considered that I’m a dweeby artist and I’ll always be a dweeby artist and that in itself came with qualities that would never add up to whatever a bully in high school is made out of.

So, in true Gemini form, I gave up on that project and started a new one.

It’s good, it’s better: a bold lip can change a life, it’s pretty misogynistic of me to beat myself up about wanting to wear lipstick.

There’s no such thing as more trans or less trans. You’re trans because you’re trans. That’s it.

Do with that info what you will.

Be there for your friends. Believe in them, because they know exactly who you are even when it feels like no one in the world does. They won’t pressure you to go out because they know what it feels like to be trapped in bed, not wanting to be seen by anyone.

Today I had to remind myself of this while I painted my face. Some days it’s harder to remember.

Today we’re rewriting those burned books. We’re defining ourselves to the same world that’s done everything it can to try and say we don’t exist. We’re unbound by our names, our defined bodies, we are preaching it every day in the way we walk and smile and love.

We can start by just saying yes.

Images courtesy of Carter Schneider; Reagan Holiday Polaroid courtesy of Death by Sheep

Stay tuned to Milk for more Gender Diaries and see our previous installments here.

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