This portfolio celebrates the exuberant explosion of gender expression we’ve been seeing on campus. FIT has often been a refuge for students to explore their identities and experiment with their gender presentation. Anyone who’s been paying attention has noticed a certain freedom and adventurousness in students’ dress, and we wanted to show some of what’s going on around West 27th Street lately.
That seems simple, but it wasn’t. Even at FIT, gender identity can be a sensitive topic. We didn’t want to choose the students who would appear in this feature; we wanted to put the idea out there and have them come to us. We hired three students—Koîos Glasscock, Mafu Galarza, and Peshi Kendall —from FIT’s LGBTQ+ Alliance as consultants to help shape the story, promote the project to fellow students, and interview the participants. Nonbinary alum Kayden Michael Strauss, Photography ’21, shot the portfolio.
Eight photographs couldn’t possibly capture the diversity of gender expression at FIT, but they offer a glimpse of 10 students, just being themselves.
Photography and Textile/Surface Design
“I’m kind of all over the place. I don’t have one thing that I stick to. I’m inspired by a lot of different things. I want to do everything and be a part of every subculture.”
Fashion Business Management
“The reason I got into fashion was because I used to get made fun of for dressing like a guy—whatever that means. In the future, I envision myself having a creative studio, not just for clothes and music, anything. I want to make a safe space for creatives.”
aka Crystal Marie Tyler
“How people perceive me is none of my damn business. I’m not in control of what somebody else is thinking or feeling. Some people are going to like it, and some are going to hate it just based on the fact that I’m queer. And I can’t reverse that.”
aka Scarlet Foxx
“Drag is the best thing that’s ever happened in my life. It doesn’t matter your gender, sexuality, shape, size—it’s a beautiful art form. I used to be very self-conscious about my body. I didn’t like having my midriff showing. Today I wanted to accentuate it, because as I’ve done more drag shoots and worn more revealing clothing, I’ve felt more comfortable in my body.”
“I want people to see me and go, ‘Is that a boy? Is that a girl? What is that?’”
“My style is eclectic modesty—I give ‘rich auntie’ energy. This is one of my grab-and-go dresses. I wear it sometimes for job interviews.”
(They/Them or He/Him)
Advertising and Digital Design
“I’m a minority in so many different aspects, being mixed-race, neurodivergent, queer, and nonbinary. They all mean huge things when it comes to my artwork and creative writing, my character creation, even dancing. Sometimes I like being hyperfeminine, but other times I want to be hypermasculine.”
“I have a weird relationship with gender: I don’t really think about it. I used to want to be perceived as more androgynous. Now I just play and experiment.”
“My style is genderless Victorian prince meets … you know those creepy vintage baby pictures that are just a pile of white lace and then a little face? Like that.”
“I mostly wear ‘light academia’: a lot of sweater vests, this pleated skirt; it’s little-school-girl-meets-businessman. I do not identify as feminine, but I present myself as very feminine, because it makes me feel prettier. I want people to see me as the person that I am, not based on my appearance.”
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
KAYDEN MICHAEL STRAUSS (they/them), Photography ’21, is a lens-based artist who has worked with Elle Mexico, W, Paper, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Kenneth Cole. Photography allows Kayden to explore what connects them to their subjects, rather than what separates them.