July 28, 2015

{STYLE} Made in LA

Slowly but surely, my new life in LA is starting to find its own patterns and rhythms. New routines, new places to be "regulars," new traditions (Friday nights are for family, now, and Sunday mornings are for farmers markets and exercising), and a world of neighborhoods and streets and cafes and bars to explore - most of which have cropped up since I left for college. Ali and I are finding the spots that remind us of New York but that are so, so LA in their own right. We've found the coffee shops that we love, the neighborhood bakeries that cater to my gluten-free needs*, and most importantly - are connecting with old and new friends. It feels good to be surrounded by community, family, and by people who are genuinely excited that Ali and I are here - and though our time is spread thin, with me working on a million different projects, and Ali conducting research studies while also completing her doctoral dissertation, we're doing our best to be intentional with our time and how we share it with the people around us. 

It still feels strange to be in the city where I grew up, where I spent my formative years, and that my entire family calls home, and in many ways still feel like an outsider. The streets are the same, but the storefronts and people who populate them are definitely not. In time, I know it will all get more familiar. 

Photos by Lydia Hudgens

* I've received lots of questions and comments about this on instagram and twitter, and I promise I will write about my celiacs diagnosis and that transition soon. Even though only 1% of the population have celiacs disease, I do have some helpful tips on cooking and eating out with a gluten free diet. 

July 8, 2015

{STYLE} Ava & Viv Fall... It's Coming!!

After a week of sweltering days in the high-80's, it's hard to believe that autumn is around the corner, but before we know it, we'll be lamenting the end of long, sunny days and starting to pile on plenty of layers. I'm always excited for transitions in seasons - even now that I'm spending more time in LA and the change is ever so subtle, it still feels like a time of change and renewal, with the added incentive of being able to mix up my wardrobe! And with that, comes a new collection from Target's AVA & VIV, who I'm so excited to be partnering with again for the fall season!

Last spring Target invited myself, Gabi, and Chastity, to the Target Headquarters in Minneapolis to get a first look at the spring-summer collection and model in their first ever look book; what I couldn't quite share at the time was that we also got to share our feedback on the following collections (by that point spring was already in production), and have the design team integrate our thoughts, loves, and dislikes into AVA & VIV for fall and winter. We gave wish lists of things we wanted to see, gave our own personal insight on how individual styles could be improved, and shared fit and production notes from the spring collection - and of course, we also had the opportunity to share all the feedback we received from you, our community. 

Now that we've seen some of the physical samples from the fall collection, I am so thrilled that our feedback was taken into consideration and that what I've seen so far looks legitimately awesome. There are great paintbrush prints, bold colors, perfectly draped sueded jackets, work-to-weekend dresses with accent trims... Target has (honestly) been an incredible partner to work with, and as always it means a lot to me when brands take the wants and needs of their customers into consideration. I'm really excited to start wearing it all, and I hope you are, too! 

This post is part of my ongoing partnership with AVA & VIV. 
All content and opinions are my own. 

June 28, 2015

Beyond Marriage Equality

After a weekend of celebrating and a Facebook feed filled with rainbows over all your pictures, here are some things we still really need to work on to achieve "equality" for LGBT people. If you think marriage is the end-all and be-all in the fight for equality, sadly, you are very wrong. This is a huge and important step, yes, and I'm SO happy that couples who want to get married now have the freedom to do so, but we have a LONG WAY TO GO.

If you are a straight person who wants to be an ally, please read this. These are some of the issues that matter to us - way more than marriage equality.

1. There are still 29 states where a person can be fired from their job based on sexual orientation, and 32 states where there are no laws to protect transpeople from being fired for their gender identity (including New York!)

2. ...and that's if you can get a job in the first place. Employment opportunities are often limited or denied to transpeople, people who are gender non-conforming, or who live life as LGBT. Tennessee and Arkansas even have a BAN on employment non-discrimination laws.

3. There's a huge economic disparity between LGBT people and their straight, cisgender counterparts. LGBT people of color have the HIGHEST rates of poverty in the country. Lesbian and bisexual women experience poverty at higher rates than straight women. Transpeople are 4-times more likely to make under $10,000 a year than the general population.

4. 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. 1/5th of transpeople report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives. We need more shelters, affordable, and SAFE housing!
2012, Williams Institute and 2012, National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

5. Healthcare!!! LGBT people are more likely to delay or avoid seeking medical care. Stigma, discrimination, under-employment and being under-insured all contribute to a lack of adequate healthcare for LGBT folks - especially the T.

6. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. More than HALF of young transpeople people have at some point seriously considered suicide, and one quarter have attempted suicide. These attempts are also two times higher for black and latinx individuals than their white counterparts. And damn does this part still hurt the most to write about. I don't want to lose another friend to suicide.
Statistics from the Trevor Project.

7. Last week Jennicet Gutierrez made headlines for "heckling" (their word, not mine) the president during his pride event - but what she was saying IS IMPORTANT. Roughly 1 in 500 ICE detainees are LGBT, and account for one out of every 5 sexual abuse cases in ICE custody. There are approximately 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants, MANY of whom are seeking asylum, who will not get to enjoy these new liberties. We need to protect LGBT individuals from violence and physical abuse in detention (and let's not pretend solitary confinement is the answer) and make the process of immigration, especially for asylum seekers, more accessible. On an anecdotal note, a friend from my former place of employment was a transwoman from Bangladesh who began presenting as female full-time while we worked there together. She was in the process of seeking asylum when she was laid off from our place of work... Remember above the note about employment discrimination laws? This happens. Even to accountants in New York.

8. LGBT people experience violence, sexual assault and abuse at staggering rates. And if individual state legalization and the aftermath is anything to go by, we can probably expect to see a spike in violence against LGBT people over the coming months. 1/8 of lesbian women and approximately half of bisexual women have been raped, and half of bisexual men and 40% of gay men have experienced some type of sexual violence. 64% of transgender individuals have experienced some type of sexual violence. 64%!!!
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010.

9 ...and that is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2015 so far there has been a record number of reported homicides of LGBT people, half of which targeted transgender women of color. A lot of people have referred to this moment in history as the "transgender tipping point," but my friends are out there fearing for their lives, and a couple of magazine covers alone is not going to diminish that fear or the real threat of physical violence. This is happening in Los Angeles (Yazmin Vash Payne, 33), in San Francisco (Tara DeJesus, 36), in New Orleans (Penny Proud, 21) - all cities with queer hubs, and they're still not safe.
Statistics via The Anti-Violence Project

10. Things you can do today: donate clothes, money, and toiletries to local shelters and LGBT centers. You can inform yourself. You can write a letter to your local legislatures. You can talk about these issues with your friends and families - and PLEASE do; it might seem easier for you to "unfriend" the bigots in your life, but please consider the privilege you have as a straight, cis ally to educate the people around you. You can support and promote the voices of LGBT individuals - especially transwomen of color - instead of waiting for Jon Stewart to repeat what is already being said. You can advocate for LGBT people in your workplace. You can march with us at our pride events, rallies, and protests... It is endless. The work is endless. So please don't give up on fighting with us just because there might be more wedding cake in your future.

And in general, just because federal marriage is now recognized (but do NOT assume that all LGBT people WANT to get married), it's going to take a long time for culture to catch up. I hope you can help us get there faster.

PS: If any of the statistics seem old, it's because LGBT research is also EXTREMELY UNDERFUNDED. But thank you to Ali for helping me share the best and most accurate numbers available to us.

June 23, 2015

{STYLE} Post Wedding Blues

Skirt by ASOS, Top by Eloquii (bargain alert! Currently just $16), Shoes by Kate Spade (Get an extra 25% off sale with code "SETSALE"), Clutch by Edie Parker, Sunglasses by Illesteva

Post wedding depression is a real thing... and I know this because I googled "post-wedding" and it autofilled with "post-wedding blues" and "post-wedding depression," and news articles with titles like Post-Wedding Depression is a Real Thing populated my page. I'm feeling a little validated that this sudden low-energy slump after an incredible month of our dream wedding, immediate bliss, and a 12-day honeymoon adventure through Japan is par for the course. After such a high-high, it seems pretty logical that normal, everyday life would feel a little meh, but I'm trying my hardest to keep spirits high, stay ridiculously busy (truly, I have never had a taller mountain of work in my lifetime), and start thinking of new plans to have on our calendars to look forward towards. 

On a small scale, I'm trying to have fun with my outfits - playing with slightly dressier silhouettes that make me feel amazing. Dressing up is adding a little extra pep into what have been super-busy work days, (stripe skirt day, above? I had six different meetings and conference calls across different parts of LA... and it was wonderful, because my skirt twirled when I spun around).

And now, I'm looking forward: I'm finding that it is imperative to have something big and exciting on the horizon, so we're looking forward to spending more time decorating and furnishing our new home in LA, and starting to wrap our minds around a smaller trip in the next few months (Portland, OR? Napa Valley? Nashville?) In the meantime, twirly skirts and dresses and a lingering honeymoon-period (because looking back on our photos and reveling in our Japan trip gives a major boost of endorphins) will do. 


June 1, 2015

{STYLE} Seeing Spots

Like pink, I think that leopard is a classic neutral that works year round to offer some pattern and texture to an otherwise simple look. With the right color palette, a little bit of leopard can be a subtle nod to a more daring side - and I think these Ava & Viv trousers fit the bill for something fun and fashionable, while being appropriate from work to weekend. Yes, I do spend some of my time in an office, and even in the world of fashion and design, a little bit of corporate drag can be necessary sometimes; even in a more traditional work environment, I think it's important to showcase your personal style! 


This post is part of my ongoing partnership with Target's Ava & Viv. 
All content and opinions are my own.