They & Asian

ink on paper, watercolor, photoshop, 2017

Ellen Chen
"I've always struggled with the concept of "womanhood". It's not determined by genetics. Nor balance of hormones, the abundance of dresses, length of hair, number of catcalls. Gender is flimsy, but I feel it at its most acute when I'm forced into some predetermined, hyper-rigid gender script. That's also why I refuse to inhabit "androgyny;" making myself more masc validates my nonbinaryness. My existence is already doing so. Let's queer up to queer experience."

Lucan Huh
"Exploring gender identity for me means examining and deconstructing the ways in which all things are assigned gender—not just my own body, traits, and presentation, but how all people, behaviors, objects, emotions, words, and beyond are processed by society and by individuals through a binary lens. It also fascinates me to think about how everyone, cis and trans alike, feels compelled to perform gender, to have goals and ambitions for their presentation. Accepting they/them is embracing my own ambitions while rejecting the binary lens as a toxic limitation on accepting the multiplicity and possibility of being."

Jada Marsden
"I currently identify as non-binary and demi-femme. I identified as cis until the last two years or so, which have been an exploration period. I feel like my gender can be best described as femme + agender. That is what I feel like deep down. My presentation varies from high femme to mid-masc but there is no ounce of my soul that is masc, just ask any of my friends. My oldest sister and her husband just had a baby. They asked me what I wanted to be called and instead of auntie or uncle, I chose pibbie. It's short for pibling, which means I am his parent's sibling. He is my chibling, or my sibling's child. Having them call me Pibbie J feels so validating. Every time my sisters say it, I feel seen. I am still working on my parents getting used to it but it just means the world to me that people close to me respect this part of me."

Ichin Lin

Moses Wang

Sam Kushner
"I was born in Gwangju but I was raised in the suburbs by white parents. I think they tried their best to shelter me. when another Korean adoptee and myself were put in a speech therapy class by our elementary school to meet a "quota," my father was furious. "my kid speaks just fine," he insisted. being an interracial family forced my parents to experience second-hand the microaggressions Asian people endure. they tried their best to teach me about my people. they offered to send me to "Korea camp" or language classes but the damage was done. I wanted blonde hair and blue eyes growing up. I accepted my queerness before I accepted my Asian-ness. I only came out as nonbinary this past year. my parents do not know yet."

Skylar Lee
"As I explored the trans community here in Wisconsin, I found a few things. Most of the trans men I know are white and hyper masculine. Many believe that you have to identify as binary to be valid enough to take hormones. My existence threatened their idea of what trans looks and feels like. I am a genderfluid queer youth, who came out as binary. I internalized the whitewashed trans binary culture they took up so much space with, and left little room for my confusion with fluidity. What I am saying is that hormones NEED to be more accessible. Resources for trans youth NEED to be more accessible. Not only for trans binary youth, but for those who are non-binary. I dreamed of the day I would be able to get my top surgery, but I guess now, it doesn’t matter anymore. My non-binary family, if you are considering hormones or other medical resources, always know that your feelings are just as valid as someone who identifies as binary. You and your feelings are not less real. Binary does not equate to realness. The binary is a social construct, and I have experienced the push-out of the binary trans men who only enforced it."
- Skylar Lee, 1998-2015

haruka yukioka
"I've been out as nonbinary for just over 3 years now, and over that time the way I explore my gender has shifted. When I first began realizing that I might not be cis, I had a lot of difficulties because I felt very comfortable in femme clothing and makeup as well as with my AFAB body. Since all the narratives I had been fed about trans people were about suffering and 'being born in the wrong body,' I felt I wasn't trans, and that there was just something wrong with me. However, as I found a community of other trans youth in my state and online, I began to realize that dysphoria wasn't a requirement to be trans - simply identifying as a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth was enough. I began to help moderate online communities dedicated to helping trans youth and educating their parents, as well as advocating for gender-neutral bathrooms across my state. When I started college and moved away from my family, I began to explore masculine clothing and found that I felt as comfortable, if not more wearing all different types of clothing. I do still believe that being femme is an integral part of my identity aside from my gender, and I'm grateful to be able to continue to truly explore every facet of my identity."

Tenaya Lee Izu

Lanny Li

kimthanh P Nguyen
"I’ve always liked to travel. Or rather, I’ve always been afraid of settling down. Staying in one place for too long means putting down roots, defining and shaping the spaces around me. Settling down also means that I have to define and shape myself. To be the perfect daughter. To find the perfect boyfriend. To climb up the marriage escalator. To know where I’m going with my career. To eventually provide a façade of a happy family, a 9 to 5 life, grandchildren and obligations and weddings and family gossip. “Did you hear about cousin ____’s disease?” “Ah no she isn’t really dating her girlfriend, her mom said!” “No way! They are!”
Disappearing into the heat of Bangkok or the hustle of New York or the calmness of Hoi An lets me pretend that I am simply a wanderer. That it’s okay to not really know myself or what I like. To be queer and questioning and shy and quiet and yet oh so human. That nobody cares.
Traveling is a way for me to stay in the closet. Sometimes literally."

Angela Dumlao

Bryan Chen

All works ©Hui MA 2018.| Please do not use or reproduce any content without the expressed written consent of Hui Ma.