The new year begins and we will try to give space, and a voice, to the stories of people who often have none. If there is one thing the digital world has taught us, it is that sharing is something important.
We discovered thanks to Zaïr Cheseaux that sensuality is something innate and has nothing to do with sexual gender. She was beautiful before, and he is beautiful now! Assigned woman at birth, Zaïr is going through his transition and can now finally call himself a man. A satisfaction that I don’t think anyone can really understand, except those involved. He was already a LATEST webcover some time ago before his operation and, now as then, his magnetic look convinces both men and women.
The difficulties, fears and joys of her journey Zaïr tells us about in this exclusive interview. We hope we can help people better understand these realities, which are much closer to all of us than you think.
It’s good to see you back in our pages, you seem to be in great shape. So, I’d like to start at the beginning. What can you tell us about your childhood?
I grew up in a small town in Switzerland. My parents got divorced when I was around 5 so I was basically raised by my mother. I was a pretty calm and introverted kid tho I really enjoyed team games. I played football and basketball for a while.
When did you start to feel, in some way, that you were not like everyone else?
I guess that I got to experience a lot during puberty, especially my feminine side. That’s also when I realised that something was off but it took some time for me to realise and accept it.
Was it difficult? Did you have family, friends on your side during the journey of understanding?
The process of understanding and accepting myself was hard but everyone around me made it easier for me. I’m so thankful for my friends/family because everyone was very supportive. It was a bit hard for my parents to adjust in the beginning but they always showed me love and made me understand that I would be their child anyways so that helped me as well. Having open-minded friends was such a blessing because they all made me feel good about myself even with little things such as gendering me correctly even tho my physical appearance was still fem in the beginning.
Was there some event that triggered that spring? That spring that made you realise that you had to change completely to feel yourself. I guess at first you thought you simply liked women, maybe. And then?
I always liked women yes but then again, you can be a transgender man and be attracted to men. Sexual attraction is very different from one’s gender. For me, seeing trans representation helped me realise who I was. I could see myself in other trans men. I’m so glad the world is more open or I would have maybe never figure myself out.
How physically difficult is it all? The hormones, the operation etc?
The hormone changes were very tricky, I would feel so much better about myself but also very triggered and angry easily. It’s a bit like going through a second puberty but with more maturity. That’s the only bad side effect I had with being horny all the time in the beginning lol. Some can also experience hair loss or acne but that wasn’t my case as I didn’t have this during my first puberty. Overall, being on hormones gave me much more confidence now that my voice and body are more aligned with how I vision myself. I had to stop working for a while after getting top surgery which was a bit depressing but I now feel whole and closer to my perception of myself. For me there are definitely way more positive than negative sides of being on testosterone.
Fashion is finally doing more about inclusion, and otherwise? What is the everyday world like?
Fashion still has some work to do towards real inclusion. However, in the everyday life I can now (unfortunately) see the male privilege. I don’t have to raise my voice to feel heard around men but on the other side I feel that women are not comfortable around me anymore. And I’m just like « hey I’ve been socialised like you and feel you too » ahah.
Let’s come to this editorial you shot in collaboration with photographer Tatjana Caserta. You have played a lot on hyper masculinity. How do you now perceive this new role of yours in society?
To be honest with you I don’t really think about this that much, I’m just trying to be the better version of myself so that imply being a good, respectful and understanding man. Having lived as a woman I’m very aware of all the injustice and try to do my best to give strength to women around me.
Is there anything you would like to say to the families, friends of trans people (or those who are trying to become trans) to help them understand and be close to them? This I think is very important. I have a young daughter and I feel bad just thinking that she might have a hard time understanding herself, plus not find support from her loved ones.
I would say that there is not one way to be trans so every case is different. However, what everyone should do is respect their friend or family member’s inner feeling cause you can never really understand something unless you’re going through it but you can always try to empathise. I would suggest asking the person directly what they would like you to do to feel more comfortable and adjusting to it unconditionally. At the end of the day, even if you don’t get it, it only takes little efforts to make someone you love feel better about themselves and it might make their everyday life easier, so why wouldn’t you?